Missions giving and support has changed incredibly over the past 100 years of missions.
Missionaries used to be fully supported by churches.
People would give to churches… churches would give to those living and working overseas.
Missionaries would contact pastors, have a service, gain support and go to the mission field.
But, People no longer give their missions money solely to a church.
In fact, many people no longer give to missions at all.
And if they do give, they want to decide where and to whom it goes.
Because of that, churches are not the only source of support for missionaries.
People… all people… friends, family, co-workers, neighbors… they can all give and be a part of missions through personally supporting a missionary.
I’m not blogging this to say good or bad either way… things have changed in missions giving and change is sometimes difficult to navigate.
Church support is absolutely VITAL to missions work.
Personal support is vital to keeping people personally involved in missions.
But personal support can be tricky… because people don’t always know the how’s and what’s of supporting a missionary!
Here are a few tips for Personal Support:
1. Make a commitment. All missionaries base their budgets on future committed gifts. If they have a dedicated commitment form? Fill it out. Those forms are very valuable to a missionary.
2. Act now. Most missionaries are working within a specific time frame. They are trying to make plans along a certain set of dates. Your commitment is critical to their timeline’s success. If you plan to commit, commit now rather than later.
3. Communicate. Missionaries love the surprise of seeing a new donor come across their computer screens. Generally, they are notified by their sending agency about a new gift and/or donor. But, although the surprise is fun, most missionaries are watching their accounts very closely and if they didn’t know the gift was coming, they can’t make sure your giving is recorded correctly as you intended it to be. Let missionaries know so that they can help you!
4. Give regularly. Whether you give once a quarter when you get your work bonus or you give by check each month, make sure the missionary knows when to expect your giving. It helps them differentiate between non-givers and planned periods of non-giving.
5. Stay informed. If the missionary sends out a note or a newsletter, read it! And even better… reply so the missionary experiences your encouraging support of being interested in their missions work.
6. Watch your account. If you signed up for auto giving, make sure it is coming out of your account. Be aware of card expiration dates and other problems with your giving. If you give through a church, make SURE your donations are being sent in. This saves the missionary the awkward conversation of why you haven’t been giving.
7. Ask questions. Is this a short term trip? Is this a full time work in another country? This helps you know how long your commitment should last. And, it helps you know how to pray!
8. Be honest. Do you want a special update? Do you have questions about the ministry you are supporting? Instead of getting frustrated and stopping your giving… be honest and share your expectations.
9. Prayer Cards. If the missionary has a card, hang it up somewhere in your home. This reminds you to pray and to give, allowing the missionary to stay at the front of your mind. It also helps you share with family and friends that you support a missionary!
10. Get kids involved. Can they sell something in a craft show? Can they have a car wash or lemonade stand? Missionaries are always in need of cash for projects, building, travel, supplies and so much more. These sweet gifts from kids are incredible faith builders for the kids and the missionary. Also, kids can pray! Get them praying for your missionary.
Check out this 5 Day Series on helping kids have a heart for the world!
11. Send notes. Even just a quick facebook message or text message can make your missionary’s day. It is thoughtful. It is free. It is a blessing. every time. But be informed before you send anything. Read this.
12. Be creative! Missions knowledge, giving and praying can be a fun and creative way to serve God and participate in the Great Commission. Let your church and your family get involved in creative ways of supporting your missionary!
Have you ever considered supporting a missionary?
Also, check out Things I Would NOT Say to a NEW Overseas Worker
And, we highly agree with this post 9 Steps to Ethical Giving and Fundraising.