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Church communicator

“Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord,
will tell you everything, so that you may also know
how I am and what I am doing.” – Philippians 6:21

“Out of sight, out of mind” is too often the case when it comes to churches and missionaries. For that reason, you have a vital role in keeping the connection strong between the church and missionary. You are the missionary’s “living representative” to the church, finding creative ways to help your church remember the missionary.

Church awareness and education

Before the missionary’s departure, help to schedule times for the missionary to share in Sunday School classes, worship services, or with home groups. Consider inviting a person who has experience in the country/culture where the missionary is serving to come and share with the congregation. Perhaps an experienced missionary, an EMM staff person, or a person from the culture could share during a worship service.

Regular two-way connections

Figure out by what means, and how often, you want to keep the missionary informed about the congregation. You or others you designate might mail bulletins, church directories, newsletters, or sermon tapes to the missionaries. 
(ALERT! If the missionary serves in a sensitive location, ask before mailing overtly Christian material. Also, some missionaries choose to designate a “gatekeeper” who receives all of their correspondence, screens it for “inappropriate” language, and then forwards it on to them.)

Figure out by what means, and how often, you want to keep the congregation informed about the missionary. Urgent needs should be shared as they arise, of course, but it is helpful to have designated planned times for updates. You might read the missionary’s own words from an email or newsletter and show a few pictures, including a picture of the missionary to help the children remember who you’re talking about.

Creative communication ideas
  • Create a bulletin insert to feature the missionary, his or her work, and prayer needs. Include photos if possible.
  • Create a bulletin board or traveling display for your church that is regularly updated. Give a simple explanation of the missionary’s ministry so newcomers can easily catch the vision. Include recent photos, stories, and a map showing location. Make announcements to draw attention to any changes. 
  • Make prayer cards, prayer lists, and care package ideas available for church members to pick up and take home. 
  • Organize an encouragement team in your congregation. Set up a rotation for sending emails/letters to the missionary so he or she is covered throughout the month with encouragement.
  • Make a “Host the Missionary” bag to pass around the congregation. Families/individuals can “adopt” the missionary for a week by signing up to take home a bag full of items related to the missionary and his/her location. Include a framed photo of the missionary, so that the family can place it on their dinner table and “share a meal” across the miles. Include a recipe so that families can cook a meal common in the missionary’s country. You may also include other prayer reminders like: crafts or music from the country of service, a video, a book in the language the missionary is learning, facts about the nation, a recent newsletter, or prayer requests. Encourage those "adopting" the missionary to call or email during their week.
  • Arrange a Sunday morning teleconference with the missionary. Put him/her on speaker phone and display a picture. Have prearranged questions, and make sure to arrange your call with the missionary! If time differences don’t allow for a “live” call, then tape a conversation to be played for the church.
  • Have the missionary send a video of a “typical day” to show the congregation.
  • Video record a congregational party or event and have members share personal greetings to be sent to the missionary.
  • Pass an audio recorder around at a church function and record personal messages for the missionary.
  • Set up a “shopping center” for church members to purchase items for the missionary. Include books, tapes, CDs, snacks, etc. that are the missionary’s favorites, and have people buy them to send them in a care package.
  • If the missionary is not serving in a sensitive region, include photos and newsletters from the missionary on the church’s website.

When the missionary returns

Missionaries on home leave or reentering the home culture appreciate help finding their way back into the church community:
  • Arrange a special potluck for the missionary to meet new members of the congregation.
  • Put up a “welcome home” banner in the church, or place a welcome message on your church’s marquee outside the church.
  • Connect the children to the appropriate church programs or classes for their age group.