First and foremost, practice 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13:
Know your missionaries: Really get to know what’s happening in their lives; learn their needs, struggles, and joys.
Honor them for what they do: See the following sections for practical ideas.
Maintain unity in your church: What happens in a missionary’s home church impacts missionaries spiritually and emotionally.
For a sermon outline on this topic, read “Three Responsibilities of the Church.”
Pray: Missionaries describe this as their number one need. They face many battles from the enemy and need our help to accomplish God’s purposes.
Ministry tools: If a book or website has been helpful to you, consider sending it to your missionaries. Resources on missionaries’ spiritual walk, purity, and anything that helps them continue serving the Lord are appreciated. If they need specific curriculum resources, consider buying them for the missionaries.
Support: Taking on missionaries for support is the biggest way to help. Also consider giving your missionaries regular cost-of-living increases. This helps prevent extra months on furlough when missionaries’ support levels fall below the cost of living in their countries.
Furlough housing and transportation: Help them find a reasonably priced furlough home and vehicle, or provide these necessities. Gas cards are a great help too. Provide housing or a motel when they visit your church.
Honorarium: Churches greatly ease missionaries’ financial burdens when their honorarium adequately covers the cost of traveling to your church.
Vacations: Regular downtime helps missionaries stay sharp. Encourage your missionaries to take their vacation allowance each year. Churches can be a blessing by providing special vacation funds or paying for missionaries to go to an amusement park, national park, historical site, or anything of interest to them on-field or during furlough.
Overload: When inviting missionaries for a conference, be careful to not overload their schedule. Allow adequate time for rest each day.
Safety: Single missionaries especially appreciate someone from the church they’ve visited following up to make sure they safely reach their next destination.
Correspondence: Letters, notes, and cards (especially for birthdays and holidays) are a boost; write with a personal touch. Missionaries appreciate quarterly updates of what has been happening in their churches. This helps them know what to expect when they return at furlough.
Gifts: Find out what foods or items missionaries on foreign fields enjoy but can’t find in their country. MKs, even through their college years, appreciate care packages to lift their spirits through transition times and loneliness.
By Steve Fulks
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
In the two verses before us, the Apostle Paul reminded the church in Thessalonica of their responsibilities, especially in regard to those who served them.
Paul, being a practical person, reminds them of the need for three things:
I. The Need for an Examination "know them…" vs 12
We are to know them, not in a casual way, but in a real and intimate way.
The idea here is to have an in-depth understanding of them and their work.
The word also carries the idea of paying attention to what is going on in their lives.
As church members, it is our responsibility to really know those who minister among us and to keep abreast of what is going on in their lives and ministry.
This involves maintaining close contact with them by keeping the line of communication open.
This will help to avoid misunderstandings and will also help us to know of their victories and needs.
II. The Need for an Estimation "esteem them…” vs 13a
As time goes by, certain words seem to lose their place in our vocabulary usage and the meaning may not be as poignant as it once was.
This is very possibly true with the word "esteem."
In its purest sense it means to be appreciative of or sensitive to another person.
In the case of the servant of God, according to Paul, this estimation comes not so much from the person itself but rather for the work to which they have committed their lives.
Although those of us who know [our missionaries] would agree that there is much in their personalities that would cause us to admire them, we as a church should hold them in special esteem most for their dedication to service for God.
The right appreciation or estimation on our part will be shown in several ways:
- Prayer on their behalf.
- Giving when there are needs.
- Willingness to serve alongside them.
III. The Need for an Exhort "be at peace among yourselves …" vs 13b
The best way a church can be an encouragement to its missionaries is to maintain a strong base here.
There is nothing more discouraging to those on the field than to hear of difficulties in their sending church.
What can we do here to maintain peace and a strong base here for the future?
Don't seek to serve ourselves.
Always judge ourselves.
Always control ourselves—what we do and say.
As a church we take upon ourselves some important responsibilities.
This is more than just a ritual; it is rather the giving forth of vows.
As a church we should be in a constant sense of examination to know, to understand, to pay attention to the needs of our missionaries.
Second, we vow to hold them in high esteem because of the work that God has called them to do—to honor them.
Third, we vow to be attentive to the exhortation of maintaining a strong base here for them—to be a peace among ourselves.
Ecclesiastes 5:5—"Better it is that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay."
May God help us to keep the vows we make.