What practical matters do I need to consider?
There are many practical matters to consider when thinking about going overseas long-term. How should I go about raising personal support? How do I deal with the concerns that my family are raising? How should I involve my church in this process? What training might I need? This section aims to help you to begin to address these important issues as you consider your involvement in world mission.
The relationship between your sending church and the mission agency you choose to go with is very important. It needs to be a real partnership and a committed relationship with responsibilities and expectations on both sides. Your home church has a key role in sending you and is the place to begin - agencies exist to help churches fulfill God’s mandate for world mission, not the other way round. It is also important that you are already active in a local church in the UK if you wish to be considered for overseas mission. Talk with your church leaders and others in the church who know you best and use their wisdom to help you in the decision-making process. Your church can help in discerning your call, give ongoing pastoral care, pray for you and support you practically and financially. The mission agency will help equip you for service, care for and support you overseas, resource, inform and journey with you.
Your church also needs to help you look for a ‘fit’ with any mission agency you are thinking you might go with. Do you and your church share their vision and values? Check out their mission statement. If possible, go along to one of their events in the UK to meet some of the team and learn more.
The other area your church and mission agencies can help you with is in determining where there is most need in the world. Think and pray about your involvement in those areas and places where people are most unreached. Be prepared to be challenged or re-directed. Perhaps there is more need for you in places or projects which you haven’t yet considered?
Most importantly, pray and talk with your church leaders right from the start, and look for an opportunity with the attitude that it’s a chance for you to serve God and his church throughout the world, rather than focussing solely on what you initially think is best for you – you might be amazed at how God could use you.
Raising financial support for world mission can be one of the most positive and faith-building aspects of someone’s ministry. However it is also hard work and, for some, can be daunting and might even put them off considering mission overseas. But it doesn’t need to. Support-raising is about a lot more than money; it's about building a team around you who bring their financial support, prayers and encouragement. They, together with you, will enable someone somewhere to experience God’s love through your ministry. You just need the tools for the job of building the team.
Pursuing God’s calling requires faith for a support base. And a strong support base needs a solid grounding - both in the biblical principles that underpin it and the practical steps that make it a reality.
Each ministry has its own unique challenges and each individual's requirements will be different. Your mission agency and your church may have lots of helpful advice in this area. In addition Stewardship runs two helpful training seminars as part of their commitment to resourcing Christian Mission: Finance for Ministry: essential tools for Christian Workers explores key areas such as accountability, responsibilities in terms of tax and National Insurance, budgeting and long-term saving. Support Raising for Ministry: Funding the Family Business takes a closer look at the practicalities of support-raising while setting it within the context of the rich, biblical model, and tackles some of the 'heart problems' that can inhibit ministries from reaching their full potential. Using the Funding the Family Business workbook as its basis, the training picks out the key steps towards increasing and maintaining a strong support base.
Stewardship also offers a whole library of information on issues specific to Christian Workers in their Finance for Living series. And there is a budgeting tool for Christian workers to help you construct a budget that makes the most of the ministry God has called you to; email to find out how to get hold of a copy.
If you have any questions on the content of the training or simply want to find out more about Stewardship’s resources, email Fiona or telephone 020 8502 8585.
With thanks to Stewardship and Myles Wilson at Funding the Family Business
It is perfectly natural for other family members to be concerned about their loved one(s) taking off somewhere they know little or nothing about with a bunch of strangers. But first, you need to establish what is behind their objections.
If your family members are not Christians then you need to be sensitive in how you handle the situation. But if this is the case then they may never agree with any Christian activity you engage in or understand why you would want to be involved in world mission. Even if your family members are Christians they still might not understand why you are taking this step.
If their concern is for your protection and safety, then do what you can to address their concerns. Get the mission agency you’ll be serving with to talk to them and give them every possible reassurance. Involve your church leaders if necessary. Talking to others who have had similar concerns may also help them.
If at the end of this they still object, then you need to ask yourself questions about what’s most important. If God clearly has placed his call on your life for Christian service - and your church endorses this - then you may need to just go ahead and pray that your family come round to the idea in time. However, God asks us to respect and honour our families, and so you should do what you can to protect your relationship with them whilst explaining why you feel it is right to go ahead.
At the same time, seek advice from people you respect, or others who have gone before you – they may help you find a way through the difficulty.