As soon as you you have a purpose and proposition statement to communicate your missionary calling, you need to build a missionary communication list. The list will be the people you send various forms of communication to, and follow you throughout your missionary life.
If the idea of a list sounds worldly or corporate, consider scripture mentions the names of those who helped Jesus and Paul in their work (Luke 8:1-3, Phil 4:18). This suggests raising and receiving living and ministry support can be Spirit lead and glorify God more than the giver and receiver. This happened because neither Jesus or Paul saw their relationships as means to their end. They viewed relationships as participants together in the same gospel work.
Begin Deep and Wide
Begin building your missionary communication list by simply writing or typing out anyone you can think would be remotely interested in your going to the mission field. Do not consider perceived ability to financial support the work, their religious background or their missions background. Instead, consider people that know you and would like to hear of what God is doing in your life. It may be good to ask a family member or long time friend for help. They may stimulate memories of people whom you may not initially recall. Simply write the names in whatever order they come to you without getting bogged down finding contact information. Likely, your list should be far deeper and wider than your first thoughts.
If you are going out to the field as a couple, or family, you have a start by beginning with your wedding invitation list. It is good to ask a missions minister or pastor in your home church about written, or inferred, policy concerning adding any church sources into your missionary communication list. Once determined, here are some ideas to help you go deeper and wider in building the missionary contact list from your relationships:
- Campus Christian group leaders.
- Fraternity or sorority members.
- Former co-workers.
- Bible study and prayer group members and leaders you have been involved with.
- Former teammates and coaches.
- Sunday school teachers.
- Leaders in childhood or college churches you were part of.
- Former short-term missions teammates.
- Employers and former co-workers.
- Review your computer’s contact list or address book.
Administrative and Utilitarian
Your missionary relationship list is far from complete. With a first draft it is good to ask parents and your home church leaders who they suggest adding. The next steps are more administrative and utilitarian than relational, but highly important.
Input all the names and contact information into an application which is available on all your devices. The app needs to be able to export the list into a comma separated values spreadsheet (like Excel, Google Docs). Take the time to track down the most current emails, phone numbers, addresses of all contacts. Back it up on a cloud system or separate hard drive.
Keep Focus on Relationships
Missionaries beginning the support raising process often have the same experience of humbling surprise. The surprise comes in realizing who will support you and the work, and who will not.
Danger comes not in the surprise, but in the response. It is dangerous to see relationships who support the work as being on the side of the angels, but those who don't as being insensitive to the leading of the Spirit.
In the Lord’s sovereignty, He calls both those with a few tight relationships and those who do not know any strangers to the mission field. The former may struggle to come up with 50 people on their list. The latter seems to be always adding to theirs. It is always remember the Lord is the ultimate provider of both relationships and provision for the work.
This is why it is good to keep in mind our Lord is relational and His mission is about bringing His separated people back into relationship with Himself. This happens in relationship with the Son and by the power of the Spirit. We are created in His relational image and likeness, so building a missionary communication list should be seen as rejoicing in the people God has brought into your life more than merely a list of potential donors.
Because the Lord is in control, there is no special number to aim for with your missionary communication list. It will be a living document which will need updating as people change contact information and it should keep growing throughout your time as a missionary.