In the area of missionary involvement, be selective and deepen your involvement in the lives of a few. Often a church or group will decide to do something nice for a missionary at Christmas. Then they decide they need to do it for all the missionaries their church supports. Next thing you know, the group decides they only have the time and money to buy seventy five Christmas cards and sign their names to them and send them off. By being selective, you can make an infinitely greater impact in your missionaries’ lives.
I know being selective is difficult. What’s to motivate you to choose to invest in one missionary ministry over another? Start with developing a proper theology of missions. I do not have the space to go into great detail here, but you must take the time to learn about the biblical purpose of the local church in the Great Commission. Starting from this theological foundation, will help you determine what methods you want to get behind and who you agree with philosophically. I strongly encourage you to look among the missionaries your church already supports. If you agree with the church’s philosophy of ministry (and you should since you are there,) you will for the most part agree with their process of choosing missionaries.
One of the best ways to become “selective” is to start praying for someone before you meet them. I traveled to India a few years ago, and, upon returning from that trip, I prayed for a team of missionaries I could assist by helping in sending. As some of my friends became the answers to those prayers and moved out into the harvest fields of India, we developed a relationship not based upon personalities alone but upon a deep conviction that we were part o!f a bigger story.
Ideally, you will have missionaries sent out of your church. Those will be the easiest to connect with. If you do not, or there are only a few missionary members to choose from, you could choose from those others who are supported financially by your church. Pray for them by name. Reach out to them and see how you can get behind what they are doing. As you get responses, be personal, but respect their time. You will start to see connections form with one or two missionaries.
I will admit that not all missionaries are very “sender-friendly.” I would say that those of us who send should probably take ownership in this problem. We may act like we are their best friends and make big promises to stand behind them. Then a month after they are on the field, we get busy with our lives and neglect our communication with them. When they do finally get an email from our church, it is usually for information we could have gotten off of their prayer card! So when we write them and say we want to be better involved in their work, they think it is just a fad that will quickly pass a few weeks after our missions conference.