You probably know that missionaries periodically leave the field and spend a few months in North America—but have you ever wondered why? Have you ever wondered what they do during this time? Are they on … vacation?
Re-Connect—formerly known as home service—is not a vacation from ministry. It’s a focused time for Resonate missionaries to connect with churches in North America who are partnering with them in ministry. Here are ten common misconceptions about Re-Connect—plus some ideas to help engage with missionaries during this time of ministry.
Misconception: Re-Connect is a vacation.
Reality: Re-Connect is an important part of ministry.
Rest is important and while missionaries often make time for a much-needed vacation during Re-Connect, that’s not how they spend the majority of their home service. Missionaries spend most of their time connecting with partner churches and individuals in their support network. It’s helpful for their ministry when churches make time for them.
Misconceptions: Ministry on the field comes to a halt.
Reality: Ministry continues from a distance.
When missionaries come to North America for Re-Connect, they aren’t leaving their ministry in the field behind. Missionaries still carry out ministry responsibilities through email, video call, and other forms of technology. While missionaries often continue their ministry work, Re-Connect is a dedicated time when missionaries can focus more on connecting with their support network and casting a vision for mission with their partner churches.
Misconception: Connecting with churches during Re-Connect should always look the same.
Reality: Missionaries are open to new ideas to engage your church.
“I think that people tend to think we are on vacation, so they don’t want to put demands on our time,” said Steve Holtrop, Resonate’s regional mission leader in Central America. “But we are open to connecting with churches more than just on a Sunday morning.”
Making space for missionaries to connect during Sunday morning services is a great way for them to connect with congregations (and vice versa), but that can also be challenging when most missionaries have lots of churches they’re hoping to visit. Trying something different—such as a weekday meal—can be beneficial for both parties. Have a conversation with your missionary and see what works.
Misconception: Missionaries and their families will come to every church service and event.
Reality: It’s not always possible for spouses and children to come to every church.
Re-Connect can be a big adjustment for missionaries and their families. Sometimes being in North America means adapting to a completely different culture, or one they haven’t lived in for awhile. As missionaries and families seek to develop new routines during home service, it isn’t always feasible for spouses or kids to be at every church visit.
Misconception: Missionaries are always on the road during Re-Connect.
Reality: Missionaries have a “home base.”
Missionaries do spend time traveling to different churches during Re-Connect, but missionaries often have a “home base” where the majority of their supporters live. Resonate works strategically with missionaries to create a support network in two main pockets, so that they’re not stretched thin during Re-Connect and can have meaningful time with partner churches.
Misconception: Missionaries have everything they need during Re-Connect.
Reality: Your church can help provide essentials for missionaries and their families.
Missionaries need housing, transportation, food, and more while visiting churches in North America. Families with young children might need toys and older children might need summer jobs. Do your missionaries have appropriate clothes for any climate changes? Check with your missionaries to make sure they have everything they need. Maybe your church can help fill a need.
“It’s helpful if there is a point person who takes the lead in connecting with the missionary, determining what they need when they come to visit,” said Diana Boot, a Resonate missionary serving in Uganda.
Misconception: Missionaries are lonely or bored during Re-Connect.
Reality: Missionaries are often very busy.
From traveling to churches, connecting with family and friends, and taking care of other tasks like medical appointments, missionaries are often very busy during Re-Connect. While missionaries are open to connecting with supporters, it isn’t because they are lonely or bored—it’s because they want to build relationships with those who support their ministry. Work with your missionary to plan an event that will foster your church’s relationship with him or her.
Misconception: Re-Connect looks the same for every missionary.
Reality: Every missionary is different and has unique needs during Re-Connect.
Every missionary is different, and Resonate missionaries all spend their time during Re-Connect differently. They live in different places, connect with different churches, and stay connected to their different ministries on the field. Remembering that missionaries have unique needs during home service is the first step to helping them make the most of their time. Unsure of how to best help them out? Reach out to them!
Misconception: A few minutes to share at a Sunday morning worship service is enough.
Reality: Your missionary needs more time and ways to connect with your church.
Your missionaries have a lot to share about ministry with your church congregation, and they would love to connect with your church throughout the week. Time to share at a Sunday morning worship service is a great opportunity, especially since many church members will be there, but consider additional activities. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Misconception: Re-Connect is just for missionaries.
Reality: Re-Connect is for your church, too.
Your missionary and your church are in partnership together, and Re-Connect is meant to be beneficial for both missionaries and your church. Maybe your church can have a Q&A with your missionary to learn more about his or her ministry—or to ask them for input on your church’s local ministry context. Connect with your missionary before he or she visits so you can plan a visit that is powerful for both of you!
“I would love if more churches would propose how they wish to engage with us,” said Steve. “Let’s make this something that works for both of us.”