I hope the following post will present some helpful thoughts for people either on deputation or looking at it in the future. I have to thank my pastor and several friends who have gone through the process for many of these thoughts.
Approach to the process:
- View deputation as special season of ministry. A wise approach will influence scores of churches and hundreds of people. You can also establish a long-term ministry with pastors and people through blogs, email, and ministry updates.
- View deputation as a special season of family opportunity. Your family will see neat places, if you ask where they are. Make good memories, and enjoy the beautiful sights.
- View deputation as a special season of preparation. Read good books that will stretch you theologically, philosophically, and spiritually. Learn balance as you are exposed to various ministries, each having strengths and weaknesses. Start writing materials that you will use on the field. Use a blog as a tool to extend the influence of your ministry. Trust the Lord to provide, and be encouraged as He does.
- Recognize that some pastors are more sensitive to the process than others. Pastors who have gone on deputation or are close to missionaries, are often much more sensitive to the uniqueness of deputation, then those who have not had that degree of exposure. Be gracious to them all.
- Be practical, but not pragmatic. Do not compromise principle to get more meetings or money. Some missionaries approach deputation like a used car salesman. The balance is to be wise, principled, and methodical to your approach.
Approach to your presentation:
- Be focused. Try to communicate as concisely as possible.
- Be balanced as you present the facts about your field. Think about someone native to your field. Would they believe that your presentation gave a balanced view of the physical and spiritual needs and conditions of the people?
- Present the spiritual condition of the people. Why do you need to go, and what hindrances in their culture resist the spread of the gospel and indigenous church planting?
- Present your philosophical approach to ministering in that environment. If someone is going to choose to financially invest in partnership with you, they must be confident that you will wisely approach ministry in that culture.
- Entertain focused questions. People who ask questions are interested in your ministry. If you get them thinking about your ministry, then their interest in what you are doing, will live longer. They will also be far more informed as they pray for you and for others.
- Present your perspective humbly recognizing that your perception may change as you are grafted into a new culture. Our perception of things today will change as we learn more, and as we mature.
Approach to contacting churches:
- Network your contacts. When you contact a pastor, it is best to have a first or second-hand relationship with him or someone in the church body. Have your contact give the pastor a heads up for your packet and call, and ask your contact write a recommendation for you.
- Quality is better than quantity. The key is not to get in as many churches as possible, but to be a good steward of your time, and to establish sweet long-term friendships. Try to setup longer meetings than one service. Go out on visitation, teach a seminar, or run a vacation Bible school.
- Send a pastor friendly packet. Be thorough. Think about the things a pastor would want to know about you before he considers having you. Put your letter of recommendation first. Send your packet as a CD. Have a concise letterhead that outlines the files on your CD packet. Pastors are busy, and they will give the most attention to the packet that considers his time and is well-organized.
- Follow-up until you get some resolve. Do not give up on a church after one or two contacts. I heard a story about a young lady who contacted a pastor a number of times. He never responded to her calls. After a time, she visited on an open Sunday, and later was invited back and has been supported by that church for many years.
- After an initial call, try e-mail. E-mail is often a quicker way to reach pastors.
- Be yourself. Do not put on heirs. Do not try to impress the people. Serve them. Preach the word. Be diligent, and allow God to take care of the rest. People notice diligence and initiative.