Reading that title, that seems to be out of place. After all, we are talking about an Ideal way of supporting missionaries. How does accountability play into becoming a high impact missions team?
When I was transitioning on staff with the missions organization I serve under, Team Expansion, I had several levels of accountability I needed to put in place in order to begin working. One of those steps was to find two individuals that would serve as my mentors and advisors. It is expected that I communicate with these individuals on a monthly basis as well as a few other obligations like financial reviews, etc.
The purpose of these relationships is for my mentors to hold me accountable to my financial stewardship, goal completion, and what I am doing to feed and grow my relationship with God. As a missions team, the missionaries that you support look to you for this guidance and assistance as well.
What can you and your missions team create some accountability that says “We care so much about you and your calling, that we are committing to these specific action steps in order to best support you.”
It’s like the phrase you may hear from the pulpit from time that may go something like “I love you just where you are, and I love you too much to let you stay there.”
In my opinion, there are two key areas of accountability that each missions team needs to process through in order to make the highest impact on the Kingdom. Plus, this accountability is key in meeting with potential missionaries to support. Your accountability guidelines will communicate to your missionaries that you are serious about having a relationship with them.
Most times, I’ve seen that the missionary is the one doing most of the communication in the relationship. Generally, that’s due to their organization holding each missionary accountable to communicate their ministry updates and financial stewardship on a monthly basis. How many times do you, as a member of your missions team, communicate back to that missionary?
What about when you are making a financial decision that could impact the missionaries you support? What do your missionaries need to know from that financial decision? What sort of communication standards do you need to implement to make sure that communication takes place both ways?
Before wrapping up a missions team meeting, answer the questions “What do our missionaries need to hear coming out of this meeting? And Who will be communicating that information?
These two questions will revolutionise your level of communication with your supporting missionaries.
As a missionary myself, I can honestly say that missionaries think and pray for their supporters more than most supporters know. How can your church ensure that your missionaries are always connected with you through communication?
In our silence to our missionaries, and in our times of conversation, communication is taking place. Peter Drucker was famous for trying to get individuals to understand the power of communication. We have been taught that communication is what I do, it isn’t. Communication is determined by what our audience hears. What are we communicating to our missionaries?
A great resource on striving to communicate better is Michael Hyatt’s book titled No-Fail Communication. It has greatly helped me in understanding how I should communicate.
The second area each missions team needs to hold themselves accountable is to give long off-ramps to missionaries when you choose to end their financial support.
Each missionary has a budget, or at least I hope they do. They have created this budget based on how much monthly financial support they will need to cover their family and ministry expenses. As a missions team, when you need to end support, you must give long off-ramps.
An off-ramp is the length of time between when you communicate the decision for ending support with the missionary and the time when the last financial support donation is made. I would suggest at least 2 years.
Ending a relationship with a missionary and stopping financial support isn’t inherently evil. Sometimes it is necessary for a variety of reasons. When missteps take place, it is usually in how the decision is communicated and the length of the off-ramp.
Let’s say your team decides to move away from supporting missionaries that use underwater basket weaving as a discipleship strategy and instead want to support a different cause or ministry. Those missionaries you are stopping support for, may not be capable of raising the replacement funds for several years.
The simple fact is that most missionaries that are overseas only return to the states once every 3 years. Generally, that time back in the states is filled with rest and more support raising. Give them a long off-ramp in order for that missionary to be able to come back and replace the funds that they will no longer be receiving from your church.
If your team can excel in these two areas, your impact and level of care given to each of your missionaries will be exemplary. Ensuring that your team communicates effectively as well as financially caring for each of your missionaries, will be a great asset to spreading the Gospel. Keep on communicating, you will never over communicate!