Member Care is the ongoing preparation, equipping and empowering of missionaries for effective and sustainable life, ministry and work. It addresses all aspects of well-being of missionaries and their dependents. It includes spiritual, emotional, relational, physical and economic matters. Member care addresses the needs of single people, couples, families and children. It seeks to empower missionaries to make healthy choices by offering ongoing training, resourcing and equipping in all these areas. It is integral to all aspects of mission including leadership, logistics, spiritual formation, and church life. It begins with selection and continues throughout the missionary life cycle to re-entry or retirement and beyond.
The responsibility for member care rests with the sending agency, the sending church, the receiving church, leadership (home/field), the team, families, individual supporters, competent member care providers and the individual missionaries themselves. Those providing member care will seek to develop competence in all relevant areas through ongoing learning, networking and resourcing. They will serve the mission community with humility, integrity and compassion, recognizing their own weaknesses and dependence on God’s grace and gifting.
Since 1990 the WEA Mission Commission has given leadership to the emergence of several overlapping global networks of Member Care providers, and has initiated the publication of several essential volumes in the following list of books which now are considered core tools to serve this movement:
Key Member Care Resources
Many very helpful resources at:
Global Member Care Network - Provides an enormous wealth of resources for people globally involved with member care. http://www.globalmembercare.com (sponsored by the WEA Mission Commission)
Mental Health & Mission Conference – An annual conference in USA on topics related to mental health and mission. https://www.mti.org/
The Headington Institute: A range of free resources related to humanitarian worker, including free training modules. http://headington-institute.org
Booklet: The Missionary Team - from The Missionary Training Service
Booklet: The Effective Sending Church - from The Missionary Training Service
Member Care Resources listed by topic:
- burn out
- crisis/trauma response
- cross-cultural adjustment
- domestic violence
- member care
- mental health
- Pre-Field Training
- sexual abuse
- spiritual formation
E. Anthony Allen. Caring for the Whole Person. MARC, 1995.
L. Andrews, (General Ed) Joyce Bowers, and John Powell (Consulting Eds) The Family in Mission: Understanding and Caring for Those Who Serve. Mission Training International, 2004.
Joyce Bowers, (Ed.). (1998). Raising Resilient MKs: Resources for caregivers, parents, and teachers. (An extensive, current compilation of some of the best articles on MK care/education….) Colorado Springs, CO, USA: Association of Christian Schools International.
Dennett, J. (1990). Personal Encouragement and Growth for Every Missionary: A practical approach to biblical caring and counseling. Pymble, NSW, Australia: Gospel and Missionary Society..
L. Dodds, and L. Gardner. Global Servants, Cross-cultural Humanitarian Heroes. Volume 1: Formation and Development of These Heroes, Heartstream resources, Inc.2010.
_____. Volume 2: Factors in Effectiveness and Longevity, Heartstream Resources, Inc.2011.
Pam Echerd and Alice Arathoon (eds)., Understanding and Nurturing the Missionary Family: Compendium of the International Conference on MK’s. Vol 1. Quito, Ecuador, Jan 4-8, 1987. William Carey, 1989.
Pam Echerd and Alice Arathoon (eds). Planning for MK Nurture. Compendium of the ICMK, Quito, Ecuador, Jan 4-8, 1987. Vol. 2. William Carey. 1989.
Marjorie Foyle. Honourably wounded: Stress among Christian workers. Overcoming missionary stress (Rev. ed.). London, UK, and Grand Rapids, 2001.
Ray Hay, Valerie Lim, Detlef Blocher, Jaap Ketelaar and Sarah Hay (eds). Worth Keeping: Global Perspectives on Best Practice in Missionary Retention. WEA-Missions Commission—William Carey, 2007. This volume synthesizes the results of the ReMAP II research project, and presents case studies from around the world of what is now being done in global missions to correct the gaps and needs first identified in the ReMAP I book.
Paul Jordan. Re-entry: Making the transition from missions to life at home. Seattle, WA, YWAM Publishing,, 1992. A practical overview of the process of re-entry and advice for successful re-entry.
M. Knell. Burn-Up or Splash Down: Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-entry, Authentic Publishing, 2007.
Brent Lindquist. Bringing Member Care Home: Member Health? Thoughts about contextualizing care. Link Care Center, Global Member Care Network, WEA MC. 2008.
Kelly S. O’Donnell, Michele O’Donnell (eds). William Helping Missionaries Grow: Readings in Mental Health and Missions. Carey, 1998.
Kelly O’Donnell (ed). Doing Member Care Well: Perspectives and Practices from Around the World. WEA-Missions Commission-William Carey Library, 2002. This is a handbook for consultation, instruction, and practical application. It contains guidelines, advice, perspectives, and even models carried out around the world. An important point is that it emphasizes that member care must be a core component of missions at the onset. It needs to be both an intentional and ongoing process. In this volume, 60-plus international contributor address the shape of member care, the rational for it, the issues involved, the needs, and know-how from skilled and gifted practitioners.
Neil Pirolo. Serving As Senders: Six ways to care for your missionaries. Emmaus Road, 1991.
Neil Pirolo. The Re-entry Team – Caring for your returning missionaries. San Diego, CA, USA: Emmaus Road, 2000.
David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken. Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds. Intercultural Press, 1999, 2001. A thorough and enlightening description of the challenges and benefits of being raised in more than one culture.
John R. Powell, Joyce M. Bowers (eds). Enhancing Missionary Vitality: Mental Health Professions Serving Global Mission. Missionary Training International, 2002.
M. Prinns, M and B. Willemse. Member Care for Missionaries: A Practical Guide for Senders. Member Care Southern Africa, P.O. Box 1416 Brackenfell, 7561 South Africa, 2002.
F. Schaefer, & C Schaefer.(Eds & Contributors). Trauma & Resilience, A Handbook: Effectively Supporting Those Who Serve God. Condeo Press, 2012. Written with lay people, member care providers, and counselors in mind. It is both research=based and practical. Examples draw a lot on mission experience. At the same time, church leaders and caring individuals and teams, as well as affected individuals will also benefit. This book brings together theological perspectives, personal stories, and spiritual, psychological, community, and medical resources. It is research-based and at the same time practical.
William D. Taylor (ed). Too Valuable to Lose: Exploring the Causes and Cures of Missionary Attrition. WEA-Missions Commission—William Carey, 1997. A synthesis of ReMAP I—an international needs assessment survey of the state of the art in missionary retention, training and care. A compilation of 27 articles on attrition and the implications for selection, training, and pastoral care.
Beth A Tetzel, Patricia Mortenson (eds). Compendium of the International Conference on MK: New Directions in Missions: Implications for MKs. Manila, ICMK, Nov 1984, 1986.