In an earlier post I mentioned the idea of missionaries doing internships in churches as a requirement for receiving the support of the church. Traditionally missionaries spend either one night, one weekend, or one week with a church before they receive support. While great times may be had during these meetings as well as meaningful relationships built, there is usually not too much depth to the relationships.
The most important church relationship for the missionary should be with the sending church. A sending church should be a huge system of support for the missionary. Not just financially, but in relationship, accountability, and ministry training. A summer internship at my home church during college gave me insight into how the local church operated and helped with relationships between the Pastors and myself.
A 25-50% support rate for sending churches would allow for more involvement and intimacy with their sending church. Then if they did a couple other 3 month internships at other churches with an understanding of receiving a higher amount of support, there would be more stability for the missionary, as well as more intimacy with the churches. We were just in a 5 day conference in which we got to know several families by meals and hanging out. I can just imagine the friendship development if we would have had a couple more months.
I heard a Pastor say that if they support us for 25% of our support, they would like 25% of our time on furlough. I thought that would be great. One of my friends on furlough has an office at his sending church and is able to participate in all the Pastor’s meetings. One of the major aspects of furlough that I do not enjoy is the lack of involvement in a single local church. We do not have time to be involved in weekly ministries.
If missionaries could do a 6 month internship at their home church where the church was committed to 25-50% of their support, then 3-4 three month internships in other churches who were committed to 10% of their support, they could be to the field in a year and a half with a significant amount of strong prayer support. I know that does not add up to 100%, but with those close of relationships with the churches, along with close family and friends there will inevitably be support for them on an individual basis. (Half of our support comes from individuals).
The transition to this type of support system would not happen overnight. It would take dozens of years, but the implementation and results of these types of partnerships will be well worth the effort.