As a logistics coordinator for short-term missions, I am constantly encouraged by the faith of the missionaries I work with. Recently, a short-term missionary I am working with came to me with one of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked during my time with TEAM: “How can I bless my supporting church through my mission trip?”
My heart soared. Here at TEAM, one of our highest values is the church from beginning to end. We engage existing churches in cooperative efforts to establish new reproducing churches worldwide. It is encouraging to know our short-term missionaries are just as passionate about strengthening the church as we are.
Together, we brainstormed the ways this short-term missionary’s time in Mexico could bless her supporting church in Canada. So if you are preparing to serve overseas, or would like to know how to encourage your local church in general, I challenge you to consider a few of these ideas to bless your home church with your international mission trip.
1. Commit to praying for your church
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (NASB)
When was the last time you prayed for your home church? For the pastors to be strengthened in their marriages or the nonbelievers who visit to be touched by the Gospel? This is a practice that is important at any time but can be especially life-giving when following the Lord in His plan for you in missions.
As you gather prayer support from your church family, ask how you can pray for them in return. Set aside time to pray specifically for these requests as part of your ministry before even entering your international ministry area.
2. Allow your church to support you in unique ways
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:4-5 (NIV)
You likely will be asking your church family to partner with you in ministry financially and prayerfully, but considering other creative ways they can support you gives your church members an opportunity to use their talents to further the kingdom.
Perhaps you know a person at your church who has lived in the country where you will be serving. You could consider asking this person to tutor you in culture and language study before you go overseas. Or maybe, your church is home to retired missionaries who have experience hosting short-term workers. Asking them about their experiences will help you avoid making mistakes that might burden your hosting missionary.
Whatever unique experience your church family possesses, engaging them will not only will make your ministry richer, but it will also give your supporting church a platform to practically use their skills in support of missions.
3. Share your story with your church
“It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” Daniel 4:2 (NIV)
Just as your ministry starts before you jump on the airplane, it also doesn’t have to end when you get home. God loves to use time we set aside in service for His kingdom to teach, challenge and inspire His children.
Don’t be afraid to ask to stand before your church to share the way God has changed lives through your service. Boldly start conversations with supporters about the provision He granted in ways you didn’t even ask for. God will use these experiences to influence your heart, but He could also have more plans for your stories than you expect. Ask the Lord for opportunities to testify to what He has done in order to edify and challenge your church as they engage with the Great Commission.
4. Forge a partnership between your church and the nations
“I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NLT)
The body of Christ is a single unit that cannot be divided by cultural, linguistic or geographical differences. In God’s sovereignty, it is entirely possible He is using you as a short-term missionary to provide a bridge between two churches. Through your experience, you uniquely have visibility to the ways your supporting church could partner with another church and provide for each other’s needs. Keep your eyes open for God’s prompting or opportunities to be a vessel uniting His people in one thought or purpose.
Have any other ideas or comments on how short-term missionaries can support their supporting church? Comment below to add to the list.