Engaging Strategic Missionary Partners
Many people desire to support missionaries fitting a certain profile, but this is currently a very difficult task. We present a solution.
Most missionaries require financial support from individuals, or “partners”, to be able to serve in their ministries. While raising support can be very rewarding, it can also be very slow, discouraging process.
There is a group of “strategic partners” who could make a big impact on this problem, but whom, it seems, have not been as fully engaged as they could be. These partners choose missionaries to support strategically rather than based on personal relationships.
Partnership development through personal relationships can be highly effective, but it also has many challenges. In American culture, talking about money is a taboo subject, making it very awkward for missionaries to raise the subject. In other cultures, where Christianity is not generally accepted, it is common for a missionary to have very few if any Christians in their circle of friends and family, leaving little chance that any of them will financially commit to their ministry. For those coming from poor communities, it is not uncommon that the combined, sacrificial, commitment of their friends and family is simply not enough to support them.
Another challenge is that only a small percentage of Christians actually support a missionary directly. Many feel that tithing to their church is enough. But most churches do not provide missionaries with more than 10% of their monthly needs. Out of all the money given to the global church each year, less than 1% goes towards global missions.
With all these challenges, it can take years for some missionaries to finally reach their financial goal and start the work God has called them to. Some missionaries give up along the way, and some are so intimidated that they never even start.
While God is absolutely able to provide the funding needed for every missionary He calls, He uses people to meet those needs. As fewer and fewer people respond to the call to support missionaries, the challenges above are compounded. It therefore becomes all the more important that we, as a global church, engage every possible method to ensure missionaries can get to the work of telling people about Jesus. Finding partners through personal relationship is and always will be a vital method of partnership development. It will continue to account for the majority of a missionaries partners. But it is not the only way.
A Second Way
A strategic partner is someone who has decided on their own to support missionaries with a specific goal in mind. Given this strategic goal, they then try to find missionaries who are already contributing to that goal. For example, someone might have a heart for a particular country and want to support missionaries serving there. Or they might feel that there is a real need for tech savvy workers in missions. Another person might want to support missionaries reaching a particular people group, such as Muslims or a least reached people group. The list could go on and on.
We have encountered several such partners along our own partnership development journey. There were people who found us and wanted to support us because of the work we were doing.
But, this group of potential partners has a problem. How do they find missionaries contributing to their goals?
Suppose someone wants to support a missionary employing IT skills, how would they find one? They could contact one mission organization after another asking if by chance they have a missionary doing IT work who needs support. Or they could visit countless websites hoping they list job skills for their missionaries and their support levels. Both of these are very labor intensive. They could ask their church or their circle of contacts, but that would be very hit and miss.
The same problems are encountered for just about any criteria. Want to help new missionaries get there first partner? Want to find someone serving in Zambia in need of support? Contact every mission or ask your church or friends. Not very practical, definitely not efficient.
Even if visiting every organizations website was a possibility, for most organizations, their list of missionaries is not searchable. Sometimes even browsing a list is not possible. In some cases this is done to protect missionaries serving in sensitive locations, which is completely understandable. But that doesn’t cover every case. It seems most organizations assume that if you are coming to their missionary page, you already know the name of someone you want to support. This, understandably, assumes the personal relationship method.
To fully engage this group of strategic partners, the best solution would be a single website that could collect information about missionaries in need of support from all organizations, and structure it in a searchable format. It should be searchable by location via a map, and be able to be filtered by things like job skills, areas of the world being impacted by their work, their current support level, etc. It also should not take any part of donations, as that only makes the job of raising support harder again.
Personal connection between a partner and missionary is also crucial to the missionaries success. Partners should be praying for, and encouraging their missionaries along the way. This must be supported by any solution.
Ergatas has created such a website (ergatas.org). Missionaries can sign up on the site for free, creating a profile that describes their ministries, and entering other information in a searchable format. Site visitors can freely use the site to search for and find missionaries with ministries they believe in and are passionate about supporting. Strategic partners can quickly find missionaries who meet their goals.
To support personal connection, Ergatas has an in-app contact form that allows potential partners and missionaries to communicate anonymously. They can ask questions, get to know each other better, and exchange contact information if further connection is desired.
Ergatas has safeguards in place to ensure all listed missionaries are legitimate and are preaching the true gospel. Each organization must be approved to be listed on the site. Missionaries signing up must provide a donation URL that lives on the verified website of their organization. This ensures that the organization is aware of the missionary and is providing accountability over their ministry.
With Ergatas, an entirely new group of people can be fully engaged for the Kingdom, helping missionaries reach full funding faster.
Come join us!