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A Gathering Place: What is Member Care

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

You might have heard the term Member Care bouncing around in mission circles but have no idea what it means. The time is interchangeable with Missionary Care. There is no verification of how this term was coined. Still, it accurately describes a care system for missionary families to decrease burnout and help avoid preventable attrition from the field. For Compass Ministries, we look at our role in Member Care in stages: They can vary depending on the individual or family circumstances. These stages include pre-field preparation, reinforcement and resilience-building, crisis prevention and response, and integration and transition. The most crucial aspect of member care for missionary families is to ensure that the needs of each individual and family are met in a holistic, integrated way. Specifically, it is essential to address physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs by creating a tailored plan based on the family’s needs. This holistic approach can help foster resilience and increase well-being during time spent abroad and post-mission service. Caring for Missionary families is challenging because it requires enlisting the whole body of Christ to be part of the Member Care team. Pastoral and Mental Health counselors are only one part of the Member Care system. Other essential pieces are needed to provide proper pastoral care to Missionary families.

Crucial to this system are the local churches. Nothing can replace the sense of belonging that a community of Christ's followers provides. Counseling, coaching, wellness program, and therapy is not enough. Studies have shown that those who seek services, if they are rooted or a part of a loving and understanding community, have a higher chance of overcoming traumas, difficulties, and life-challenging issues. Compass Ministries relies on our church partners to provide that community aspect and allow us to do what we do well. We rely on our volunteers as surrogate families for the missionary kids transitioning home. Church partners like Tampa Covenant Church in Hillsborough County and Northside Baptist Church in Pinellas County have provided this community for missionaries seeking our services. They supported us with finances and provided rides for Missionaries and Missionary kids, housing, food, and office support for our staff. Missionary families have also benefitted from our collaboration with a local ministry called Missioserv, which provides us with housing and a place to debrief Missionary families.

Our vision one day is to build a Member Care Center in the Tampa Bay area for missionary families. This facility will house those seeking therapy and counseling from Compass Ministries and for adult missionary kids integrating into U.S. culture. We also hope to have a retreat center and offices to offer counseling, training, and seminars. This vision aims to make Tampa Bay a Welcoming Place for Missionary families, for healing, restoration, equipping, and sending out. For this vision to materialize, we have to contend with three needs in the ministry: 1) Property, 2) Finances, and 3) Trained workers giving care to these families. The most challenging to fill out of these three needs is trained workers. In the last three years, we have worked tirelessly to fill the gaps by recruiting skilled counselors, coaches, ministry leaders, and administrative staff. They specialize in mental health and wellness programs that provide resources to Missionary families—seeking to improve the well-being of those who have been called to serve in ministry abroad. They are mental health and pastoral counselors and support coaches who provide a range of services tailored to the unique needs of missionary families. The different components of member care can include mental health services such as counseling, coaching, emotional and spiritual support, cultural adjustment training, and resilience. The role of counselors is to provide individual and family counseling and referral services to specialized care providers if needed. Coaches typically provide missionary families with lifestyle coaching, parenting education, and other holistic resources.

Only as a body of Christ can we propagate Christ's mandate to make disciples of all nations. Some are called to go, and some are called to support. For those of us called to stay behind, our role is crucial in keeping a lifeline for those who go. As a church, whether we realize it or not, we are mandated to give financially and be part of the Member Care team providing pastoral care to Missionary families. If we are truly going to live out the commission to go to all the nations and make disciples of Christ, Member Care is an integral part of the church to care for God's workers bringing the gospel to the countries. We ask that you pray with us for God to bring a Member Care Center to fruition here in the Tampa Bay area. If you are a church pastor, we ask that you consider being a church partner with Compass Ministries to help Missionary families stay healthy on and off the field.

For more information on the Ministry of Member Care, contact or (813) 374-3915. We train and partner with churches to offer Member Care to local Cross-cultural Missionaries.

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