What is Member Care?

Missionaries are ordinary believers living obediently to the call God has placed on their lives. They aren’t exempt from the struggles and trials that come to everyone. The question may be raised, who cares for those who are constantly caring for others? At TEAM, our answer for this vital need is member care.

Picture this:

A young woman embarks on a cross-cultural mission with a burden to bring the light of Christ to unreached people. She must invest years learning an extremely difficult language in order to serve in her new country. She experiences civil unrest and natural disasters as she is adjusting to life in a new part of the world. As a single woman in a male-dominated culture, she is limited in where she can go and what she can do. While God provides a team of caring coworkers to surround this young woman, the team changes frequently as different members face their own challenges and some have to leave the ministry. Her sense of call to the ministry keeps her going, but there are many days she feels discouraged and lonely.

In another region of the world, a couple with two young children is excited to begin their cross-cultural ministry in a remote setting. They take the time to learn the language and the culture of the country that will become their new home. After years of praying, planning and preparing, they finally arrive. The living conditions are primitive, but they learn to make do. They build relationships with locals and pour themselves into their ministry—wearing many hats and working long hours while simultaneously juggling ministry responsibilities with the needs of their family. However, some of the nationals begin to oppose their work and threaten the family. The children are afraid to leave the house. The husband and wife have differing views about how to handle the situation and conflict between them quickly escalates. They both feel misunderstood and hurt, and their children are anxious and upset.

Have any of these missionaries done something wrong?  Has there been some spiritual failing on their part? Or have they simply encountered challenges that left them overwhelmed and in need of care and support?

Missionaries are ordinary believers living obediently to the call God has placed on their lives. They aren’t exempt from the struggles and trials that come to everyone, but they have made a commitment to face them differently. When difficulties, challenges, changes and hardships arise, missionaries are in a unique position, often isolated from both their family and home church. While they are busy caring for others and serving in their ministry, missionaries and their families’ needs are often left unattended and overlooked. Who cares for those who are constantly caring for others?

At TEAM, our answer for this vital need is member care.

When life’s hardships and crises occur, missionaries must often deal with them without the resources and support that might be available to them at home. At TEAM, we make it a priority to care for our missionaries and their families using a holistic approach—before, during and after their missionary service. Our member care network includes professional counselors, pastoral care providers, spiritual-formation caregivers and medical personnel who are located in both the United States and areas around the world where TEAM workers are serving. Member care professionals are concerned for the whole person—emotionally, relationally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.

When a missionary feels discouraged or a family serving overseas faces difficult life circumstances or relational tension, they are never alone. We are committed to being sensitive to the needs of each person in our mission community and following the biblical mandate to care for one another (1 Cor. 12:22-26, ESV). Relying on God and His power, we strive to nurture growth, promote healing and help people maintain spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical well being so they can thrive as God’s children and be effective where He has called them.

Member care is a crucial part of TEAM’s ministry to keep healthy missionaries on the field. Support from the Global Outreach Fund (GO Fund) allows this part of our ministry to continue. If you would like to give to the GO Fund, please click here.

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About the author

Janice Brauer

Janice serves as a counselor providing member care for cross-cultural workers through the TEAM Counseling Office. A graduate of Wheaton College with a master’s degree in Counseling Ministries, Janice particularly enjoys counseling women and couples. Janice and her husband Tom live in Wheaton, Illinois where they raise their two sons.


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  • Hi Janice and Tom,

    Thanks for this helpful look at Member Care. My wife and I serve with SIL/Wycliffe and are assigned to help provide Member Care for our teams and partner organizations in Asia. We are currently residing in the Detroit area but have a son and daughter-in-law that live in Wheaton. Would you have time to visit with us for an hour or so in order to bounce ideas off one another? We are currently promoting a “lay” approach to MC, i.e. colleagues look out for one another. We also draw on “specialists” when they are available, but the message we want to send is that the Body of Christ functions best when we make time for one another. I think it would be helpful to share ideas about this topic and others over a cup of coffee/tea the next time we visit our kids in Wheaton. Would you be up for a visit?

    Hope to meet you in the near future.

    Tom (for Judy also)

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