Homeside Ministry Teams

HMT Elements


Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
– Psalm 127:1

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1.  Prayer for your missionary and people group

At each HMT meeting, please give priority to prayer for your missionary and the people they work with.  Let your missionary know when you will meet and if possible call or video conferencing them during the meeting for updates and prayer.

The missionary needs their senders working with them on a regular, systematic basis.  We cannot work independently in the salvation, discipline and training of national leaders.  Prayer helps us to be dependent on God and reminds us that it is He who works in the hearts of those whom our missionary is reaching.

Ways to support your missionary in prayer:

  • Be part of the missionary’s prayer letter mailing list and encourage others in church to be part of this list as well
  • Gather and compile prayer requests and country updates before HMT meetings to enable you to pray comprehensively for your missionary, their ministry and the country’s people during the meeting
  • Be aware of things happening in the missionary’s field country through media, internet and news
  • Mobilise others to pray as you meet in church activities (e.g. in Sunday service, Bible study, fellowship and Sunday School)
  • Distribute your missionary’s prayer card / letter at church to remind people to pray
  • Take a photo of your prayer group and let them know who is praying for them – be mindful that the photograph does not show sensitive items (for e.g. crosses, bibles, wine, pork) especially when the missionary is serving in a creative access country where these items are taboo.
  • Include a summary of your missionary’s prayer points and answers to prayer in a church bulletin
  • Ask your missionary for a photo to put on the ‘Missions Board’ at church to remind people to pray for them
  • Set up a Facebook Group for those who use Facebook to keep supporters updated with regular prayer requests – the Facebook group is useful for giving “real-time” updates, as compared to prayer letters which may be once a month and can get “outdated” by the time the HMT meets

Note: Not all of these suggestions will be appropriate for those working in a Creative Access nation.  Please check with your missionary or OMF first.

2.  Spiritual and emotional support

Too often we assume that missionaries do not struggle like we do in their relationship with God. Just like all Christians, missionaries need encouragement to love and study God’s word daily and to have a strong prayer life. An HMT can keep them accountable by asking questions about their spiritual life, especially since they have known the missionary for a length of time.

Saying goodbye to loved ones and moving to a foreign country can be a challenging experience. Many missionaries go through periods of discouragement, loneliness and depression especially in the first year.

They may go through spiritual dryness being away from their church community in their home country and not see much fruit, which could cause them to question their conviction and suitability for the mission field.

Satan often discourages God’s people through their physical and emotional lives. With their busy and hectic schedules that often include frequent travel, it is important to recognise your missionary’s need for safety, stamina and maintaining a sense of priority.

Ways to support your missionary spiritually and emotionally:

  • Encourage your missionary in their spiritual growth through Bible passages, articles and sermons
  • Ask them how God is working in them and in their ministry.  Listen to them to enable them to articulate and process their situation and gain spiritual insight
  • Share how God has worked in your life by encouraging them that God is at work even if there is not much visible fruit
  • Provide resources for spiritual feeding (e.g. online sermons, Christian songs, books and articles, Bible passages)
  • Think of creative ways to minister to them (e.g. cards, emails, letters, music, poems, etc)
  • Provide accountability for your missionary in their walk with God and personal godliness (e.g. asking how they are going with Bible reading, prayer, discipline, use of time and relationships)

That being said, it is important for the HMT to remind the missionary that the main source of care should be primarily from God through daily devotion and walk with Him, and secondly from self.  Self-care can be in the form of setting aside a weekly day of rest from mission work.  The HMT is not there to replace either care from God or self-care.

3.  Practical support

While your missionary is serving on the field, they still have a number of ongoing responsibilities in their home country.  These may include taxes, finance, health or housing matters.  It is best to talk to your missionary about what needs they have.  Some of these details such as financial support levels are also best handled by the mission agency.  An awareness of the policies of the mission agency will enable the HMT to work more effectively with the agency.

Beyond this array of details, there are many logistical matters that can be handled by individuals.  Depending on your missionary, these may involve taking care of certain items at home (for e.g. furniture, car or leasing out the house), helping out with family members or sending ministry resources to them.

Your HMT will support and assist your missionary during their preparation time, their time on the field and their return to Australia.  See Section on “How to Serve Alongside your Missionary in Each Season” for some practical suggestions.

Encourage regular involvement and communication between their sending church and your missionary:

  • Give updates in church services, bible study, Sunday school
  • Thank and affirm the church for their partnership with your missionary on behalf of your missionary
  • Encourage your church to communicate through various means e.g. emails, card, letter, telephone, video conferencing and instant messaging
  • Give out your missionary’s contact details where appropriate to encourage communication –  at the same time, remind the church if there are any sensitive words that should not be used in communication
  • Encourage the church pastor and mission committee to contact your missionary regularly
  • Send greetings or cards during special occasions (e.g. birthday, Christmas, Easter) or when your missionary needs special encouragement
  • Send church bulletins and news from church members – e.g. pictures from special events (for e.g. anniversaries, births) to keep your missionary connected to the church

Note: Not all of these suggestions will be appropriate for those working in a Creative Access nation.  Please check with your missionary or OMF first.

4.  Family support

Missionaries often leave behind family members.  It is a great assurance for the missionary to know that the HMT is caring for their family members in Australia while they are overseas.

Ways to support your missionary:

  • Keep in touch with family members in Australia (e.g. parents, adult children, etc) especially for birthdays or during festive seasons
  • Ask your missionary how you could care for their family members’ spiritual growth and physical well being
  • Assist with travel or visitations if in hospital, keep your missionary updated on health situation of their immediate family if there are no close relatives

5.  Adopt your missionary’s people group

What is a people group?

A people group is a collection of people who share a common culture, language and sense of identity.  Primarily, OMF International has grouped people according to ethno-linguistic lines, such as the Han Chinese or the Japanese.  However, they may also be grouped according to socio-economic factors, such as Taiwan’s working class.

An “unreached” people group is a group that has not yet been effectively reached with the gospel, with less than 2% who are Christians.  An “indigenous, biblical church movement” has not yet been established among them as the local church may not have a large enough presence to reach out to their people.

Your HMT exists because of God’s work among your missionary’s people group.  Your missionary is reaching out to their people group so that they can know Jesus and worship Him.  In partnering with your missionary, your HMT contributes towards God’s work of reaching this people group.   Adopting them involves learning about the people group, prayer, and involving other Christians in this ministry.

Ideas for adopting a people group:

  • Go out for a meal unique to that people group to understand their meals and customs
  • Watch movies, documentaries and videos about the people group
  • Attend a prayer group for that country, pray through the prayer guide for that country, and subscribe to field prayer newsletters
  • When reading the news, look out for events occurring in that country
  • Learn a few common phrases of the local language or dialect
  • Visit the country or take part in a short term mission trip
  • Invite someone from that people group, or someone who has visited or served that people group to share their experience

6.  Involvement of the church and other Christians

The sending church has a very important role to play in mission through partnership with the missionary and with OMF.  The sending and supporting churches share the responsibility for the sending of the missionary.

Ideas for involving the sending church:

  • Advise the church and missions committee of updates from your missionary
  • Have a mission spot during church service to affirm partnership and update prayer points
  • Involve small groups in prayer and care
  • Involve the pastor where appropriate
  • Coordinate a care package and inform the general congregation that this is happening
  • During Home Assignment, arrange for the missionary to share during the main services and also at Home Groups, the Youth Group and the Sunday School

7.  Communicate financial needs

“… if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” – 2 Corinthians 8:12

The following are some questions that are normally asked:

Q: What is the basis of OMF International’s financial policy?

A: We believe God is able to supply our financial needs through His people and we pray regularly for this provision.  Our part, in the words of the Lord Jesus, is to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

Q: What level of support do workers need?

A: All workers look to the Lord to supply the full amount needed to keep them in their ministry.  This may come from home churches and friends.

Q: Do workers need support on Home Assignment?   

A: Yes.  Home Assignment is an essential component of a worker’s ministry, enabling them to connect with their partners in ministry in Australia.  As deputation is their work during Home Assignment, workers are not expected to find additional employment during Home Assignment and therefore need support during this period as OMF International continues to provide personal living costs.  Due to the cost of living differences between many of our fields and Australia, workers will save for part of their home assignment while on field.

Q: How can I find out what my missionary needs?

A: As an expression of our trust in God’s provision for our work, OMF workers are not authorised to make appeals for funds.  But this does not mean we are committed to silence on matters of finance!  We are always happy to answer questions or give clarification about the support level of any worker or about general financial matters.  Individual workers are encouraged to share information on financial matters with people who are interested.  We regularly issue financial reports to show God’s faithfulness and to keep our supporters well informed.

Q: What about personal gifts?

A: Our finance system accommodates the provision of small personal gifts to workers (e.g. for birthdays and Christmas).  Additionally, with the approval of the finance manager, assistance for other unusual expenses such as emergency medical costs and other unforeseen circumstances can occur through this channel.  Unless specifically marked as a “Personal Gift”, all money will be allocated to their general support fund.

Q: What is the role of the HMT in Finance matters, especially if the worker is under-supported?

A: The role of the HMT is firstly, is to be regularly updated of the missionary’s financial needs by communicating with OMF as stated above.  Secondly, the role of the HMT is also to ask supporting churches to pray for the financial situation of the missionary.  Again, there should be no direct soliciting of funds in accordance with OMF’s financial policy but looking to God for His provision.

Partnering with the missionary on financial matters alleviates the stresses faced by the missionary in the field.

Q: What happens if a worker is over-supported?

A: If a worker is over-supported in a given year, most of the surplus support will be saved for future costs of that worker, and some will be shared across the workers in their fields as needed.  Each field has a policy designed to deal with this issue in the local context.

Suggested elements of Homeside Ministry Team meetings


1. Bible passage to focus on God’s word and His work in the world (can ask someone to lead this)

2. Mission and culture spot to grow a heart for mission and your OMF Member’s people group – eg read through mission book, watch video clip of field, guide prayer for field (can ask someone to organise this section)

3. Update from your missionary – in person before they go, and then video conferencing when they’re away – primarily an information sharing session on how they are going and how to pray and support them and their ministry in practical ways

4. Prayer – this is the primary focus of the meeting – can ask your OMF Member to prepare beforehand a list of prayer items to guide your prayers, and email/print out for everyone; can subscribe to the field prayer letters for regular updates, or pray through a prayer guide

5. Practical support issues – eg planning prayer events, communication with churches and OMF, birthdays and care packages, practical things your missionary needs assistance with

6. Food, fellowship and fun – helps with bonding the team and serving together


Things to be aware of

  • Feeling responsible to solve missionary’s struggles

(Do pray, encourage and assist in practical ways, but entrust them to God and the field leadership; talk with OMF regarding any concerns regarding your member or your HMT)

  • Communicating with the field to address struggles

(Do talk with Member Care Coordinator at OMF to find out what support is being provided on the field)

  • Soliciting funds for the missionary’s support

(Do mention the support level, how to give financially through OMF, and ask for prayer for God’s provision)

  • Taking over the church’s role

(Do support the church’s leadership/mission committee to care for their missionary by communicating updates and needs with the church, and involving the church)

If you have ideas or suggestions for HMTs, we’d love to hear from you! Please email Charissa at au.hmt@omfmail.com.

The missionary has the responsibility to keep the HMT updated on their situation and to involve the HMT to serve with them in prayer, encouragement and practical support.  The team can help the missionary stay accountable, especially when your missionary goes through periods of struggle.

The role of the missionary is to

  • Communicate regularly
  • Share honestly
  • Be willing to be kept accountable
  • Show appreciation of the HMT
  • Give priority to the HMT during visits and home assignment
  • Act as a link between the HMT and OMF
  • Not hold unreal expectations of their HMT

Evaluating your Missionary


After your team has been going for a while, it is important to take time to discuss how effective your team has worked together in partnering with your missionary. This gives an opportunity to reflect on how you have seen God at work through your partnership, acknowledge your contribution to your worker’s ministry, and to guide the HMT in how you can serve with your worker more effectively in the future.

Here are some questions to help guide your team as you do this:

  • What you actually do right now? List the range of activities the HMT does.
  • How clearly do the HMT members understand the purpose and roles of the HMT?
  • How regularly has the HMT been meeting up and communicating with your worker?
  • Does your worker confide in his/her HMT on matters other than his/her ministry? If not, how could you encourage that?
  • What joys and encouragements have you seen as an HMT?
  • What challenges have you faced as a HMT, and how have you been able to address them?
  • How have you been able to pray for your worker, his/her ministry and people group/population segment?
  • What can the HMT do to grow in faithfulness and effectiveness in prayer for your worker and his/her people group/population segment?
  • In what ways have you encouraged your worker in his/her faith, personal godliness and ministry? Evaluate your effectiveness.
  • How have you been able to support your worker in practical ways? Are there changing needs that have arisen?
  • In what ways have you been able to involve your worker’s supporting church/es and other supporters in your worker’s ministry?
  • How much understanding do you have of your worker’s ministry and people group/population segment?
  • What areas of your partnership would you like to develop in the coming year as a HMT?

–       Working together as a HMT and with your worker

–       Prayer

–       Encouragement, support, accountability

–       Involving sending church involvement

–       Understanding mission and developing a passion for your worker’s ministry and people group/population segment

  • How can your worker, supporting churches, and OMF support you better in your ministry as a HMT?
  • What resources do you need for your HMT to continue developing? (Books, training, Websites, Learning from other teams)
  • What feedback or suggestions would you like to share with OMF?

The role of the sending church

The sending church has a very important role to play in mission through partnership with the missionary and with OMF.  The sending church has the main responsibility for sending the missionary.  In addition, the church:

  • Affirms that the missionaries are called by God for cross-cultural ministry
  • Commits to pray for them as they serve on the mission field
  • Commits to support them financially as the Lord enables them by faith
  • Conducts a commissioning service to formally set them apart
  • Gives encouragement
  • Provides practical support to facilitate their ministry
  • Partners with OMF and the HMT in member care

Here are some ideas to involve your church in missions:

  • In consultation with church leadership form a mission committee at church, with a member of the mission committee forming part of the HMT
  • Involve church leadership in mission field visits to visit missionaries

For the wider congregation:

  • Organise “mission months” with a relevant sermon series to raise awareness in all congregations
  • Create a fixed mission display board at church and recommend mission books to the congregation on a regular basis to keep mission in on their radar
  • Promote missionary profiles on the church website, display board and monthly / quarterly mission bulletin and prayer guides
  • Organise international dinners where people from different cultures can meet and church members can meet them
  • Praying corporately for specific missionaries, mission and countries
  • Encourage church members to do a “Perspectives” Course, a two-part course designed to give Christians an opportunity to investigate the work of God around the world, through history and to consider their role in His purposes (http://www.perspectives.org.au/course )
  • Organise fundraising events for projects which missionaries are involved in – homemade cards, biscuits, wash cars, etc
  • Organise short term mission trips
  • Encourage home groups to adopt a missionary
  • Set up a Facebook group for the missionary to provide updates on an ongoing basis

During home assignment:

  • Allow reconnection time when missionaries are back
  • Invite missionaries on home assignment to visit church members in their small groups / individually, and to speak to the Youth Group and the Sunday School
  • Invite the missionary to speak to the congregation during the service and promote books relevant to the ministry


Here are some ideas to involve your your church in missions


At the strategic level:

  • Deliberately include mission as a strategy within the church
  • Forming a mission committee at church with church leadership involved
  • Involve church leadership in mission field visits to visit missionaries
  • Budget yearly for mission events

For the wider congregation:

  • Organise “mission months” with a relevant sermon series to raise awareness
  • Create a fixed mission display board at church, and recommend mission books to the congregation
  • Promote missionary profiles on the church website, display board and monthly / quarterly mission bulletin and prayer guides
  • Have a monthly mission update during service using various multimedia
  • Organise International dinners where people can meet
  • Get involved with mission organisations
  • Keep church/fellowship informed of mission involvement and updates on a regular basis
  • Praying corporately for specific missionaries, mission and countries
  • Involve people in “Perspectives” Course, a two-part course designed to give Christians an opportunity to investigate the work of God around the world, through history and to consider their role in His purposes (http://www.perspectives.org.au/course )
  • Run a mission theme through all church ministries (Sunday school, Kids Church, youth group, etc) over a month
  • Organise fundraising events for projects where missionaries are involved in – homemade cards, biscuits, wash cars, etc
  • Organise Short term mission trips for Home Group members to go as a team
  • Organise mission retreats for home group members to go as a team
  • Encourage home groups to adopt a missionary
  • Set up a facebook group for the missionary to provide updates on an ongoing basis

During home assignment:

  • Allow reconnection time when missionaries are back
  • Invite missionaries on home assignment to visit church members in their small groups / individually
  • Invite the missionary to speak to the congregation during the service and promote books relevant to the ministry
 

The role of OMF in relation to the HMT


The HMT needs to be aware of how OMF works and what role OMF plays in sending and supporting missionaries.  OMF partners with missionaries in the following ways:

  • Assesses suitability and readiness for missionary service
  • Provides homeside, field, medical and financial clearances
  • Provides guidance in the raising of financial support
  • Publishes personal profiles and brochures
  • Is the channel for financial support and gifts to the missionary
  • Provides member care including professional debriefing
  • Provides training and support for the HMT
  • Assists with obtaining air-tickets, visas and travel insurance
  • Keeps in touch with the HMT coordinator, attending meetings as needs arise
  • Provides backup support for the HMT as required