With all the talk about funding missionaries, World Renew is getting more calls about how it funds missions. It’s important to note that World Renew does not receive ministry shares, and so its funding model is quite different from Christian Reformed World Missions. The biggest difference is that we encourage churches to financially support country teams, not specific missionaries/field staff--although often a prayer relationship is developed with a specific person on the team.
There are many questions that churches ask as they discern a possible ministry partnership. From our conversations with churches and pastors, deacons and missions committees, we’ve gathered a few of the most frequently asked questions in the hopes that you find the list helpful.
If there’s a question you have not on this list, don’t hesitate to ask!
1. Where’s the greatest need right now?
This is not an easy question to answer. The need of each country team is in flux depending on incoming financial support and grants, as well as continually changing program opportunities across countries and teams. Your Ministry Partner Program staff would be happy to suggest several countries for your consideration in light of the most up to date information regarding country team support and need.
2. What’s the suggested annual amount for financial support?
Financial support can be at any level, but we challenge church partners to pledge to a minimum of $2,000 annually. We do understand that each church partner needs to discern the financial support goal depending on the number of ministries supported and the size of the congregation.
3. Why is World Renew country-focused rather than missionary-focused?
World Renew has recently revised our approach to church and field partnerships to broaden our focus to include the entire country and team at work in the field. As you know, no missionary works alone. There is a team of people in country that includes other missionaries, national staff, local churches, and volunteers from the community and around the world. It’s our hope that with a country-focus you can better understand the scope of the work that happens in each country and get to know the people behind the scenes. Instead of receiving news from one staff person, the newsletters you receive have articles and stories from their colleagues and the local partners who work with the country team you support.
But don’t worry! You can still have a relationship with an individual staff person. Your financial support continues to support staff and their families – their salaries, housing costs, etc. You can still receive individual profile cards for each staff person, as well as request a photograph of their family to hang on your missions wall or put up on your website.
4. Why support globally when there is so much need locally?
The recent missional shift in churches has stressed the importance of the local. This shift is a good one! We need to have a missional understanding of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment that encompasses both our own communities and those around the world.
At World Renew we don’t see the local / global as an either/or choice but a both/and. Opening our eyes to injustice in a Bangladeshi community can help open our eyes to injustices right in our own backyard. Hearing about the struggles of Malian farmers can open our eyes to the struggles of farmers on the outskirts of our own town. A community in Kabale, Uganda can teach us how to reach our own community in Guelph, Ontario or Pella, Iowa. By holding the local and global in balance, we can see and pray for our world so much more effectively!
5. What does a ministry partnership look like?
Every ministry partnership looks different. Every congregation finds a different way to engage with the country and staff with whom they partner. One church partner with the Laos team sought out fair trade Laotian coffee for their post-service fellowship time after hearing about the fight for coffee workers’ rights from Mike Fennema while he visited their church. Partnering with Guatemala could lead a church to research the experience of Guatemalan seasonal workers in their own region and country. Some send learning teams or work teams to learn from and serve in their partnering country. The ways that church partners engage through prayer, advocacy, offerings, and encouragement is varied and diverse. We’re excited to hear how your congregation develops your partnership!
If your congregation is looking for further engagement, you may be interested to explore a Global Partnership that links a North American church with an in-country church in an intentional and long-term relationship. For more information, visit worldrenew.net/globalpartnership.
6. How do we get the whole congregation engaged with our partnering country?
One of the joys (and challenges) of church partnerships is getting the whole congregation involved and fully engaged in the work of the partnering country. Each church partner wrestles with questions like: How do we engage our Sunday School classes? How do we help families in our congregation identify with families living in a different part of the world?
This is where the information about World Renew’s resources for children and youth comes in, as does the material about the Free A Family Program. In addition, the resource, “A Town Called Hope,” offers an intergenerational-friendly way to tell the story of community development and transformation. All these resources, and more, are available for free from your World Renew office!