Extending ministries

Sending Your Missionaries to the Field

The consortium advantage

When a well-respected church leader is called to mission service, the question of church financial support is a slam-dunk. But seldom does more than 20 percent of it come from the home church. That's where the most dreaded part of missionary service comes in: raising support.

Armed with tips on support-team building, missionary appointees communicate their need and sense of urgency (the field needed me yesterday). After much prayer, the support comes, but in a trickle, so "yesterday" will have to wait two or three years, if it ever comes.

Enter the missions consortium, and the picture brightens. Several central Pennsylvania Evangelical Free Churches reap numerous benefits by acting as a group. The CenPA Consortium has now sent 10 missionaries to serve with a variety of mission agencies in Africa, Asia, Alaska and Europe.

To benefit from this arrangement, a missionary must already have been accepted by a reputable evangelical sending agency, then apply and be interviewed by the consortium. More significantly, he or she must receive a strong recommendation from the home church. The skids get greased by the trust built up among the consortium participants from the various churches. Since 1997, I've seen the Lord provide support quickly for consortium missionaries—often 25-30 percent faster than through conventional means, and sometimes taking only a few months.

The consortium concept brings other benefits as well:

Reduced risk in candidate selection. When missionaries are selected jointly by the churches, more than just a few eyes take an evaluative look.

Increased communication. When an approved missionary is on the field, he or she may share a prayer request or other need while communicating individually with one of the churches; the consortium then makes these needs known to the wider group.

Quality time while stateside. When the majority of a missionary's support comes from just a few churches within a compact region, he or she can dedicate quality time to those few churches while on home assignment.

While some churches might view a consortium as limiting their autonomy, it's actually an opportunity to do more by working together.

Roger Dorris

Roger Dorris serves as a missions consultant with EFCA CONNECT in the Eastern and New England Districts. Contact Roger for information on starting a similar consortium.

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