What Is An Advocate Team?
Advocate Teams are the most tangible expression of Sojourn’s commitment to support our missionaries who are serving in cross-cultural environments. The team is centered around one team leader and can be made up of 4-8 individuals who provide on-going care and support. They serve as a primary link between the church as a whole and the missionary. Simply put, an advocate team is a group of people who deeply love and care for their missionary. They communicate, pray for, and stay connected to their missionary on a regular basis.
What Is The Vision For Advocate Teams?
There are two major roles of an Advocate Team: care and representation. The success of an advocate team depends on its ability to accomplish these two goals from the time that the missionary prepares to leave for the field until his or her return.
Many missionaries live in physically challenging environments. Some are raising children far from extended family. Others struggle with cultural adjustments and language barriers. Most significantly, all serve on the front lines of spiritual warfare. For survival and spiritual health, missionaries need the assurance that they are not alone, that there are others in the body of Christ who love them and are committed to their welfare and also to the success of their work. Missionaries need empathetic listeners— compassionate, caring friends who are not in a supervisory role. The Advocate Team can consistently provide that kind of spiritual and emotional care. Caring also involves identifying specific needs which the team can meet or organizing others in our church to meet.
The Advocate Team also champions the missionary and his or her work to our church body and advocates for ongoing participation in that missionaries’ ministry even when he or she is far away. Thanks to the efforts of the Advocate Team, our church feels an ongoing sense of connection to our Sojourn workers.
What Does An Advocate Team Look Like?
We have intentionally kept the structure of our Advocate Teams simple. The foundation of each Advocate Team is the team leader. He/she is the one who has the main connection with the missionary and leads the team in all aspects. The team leader either already knows the missionary deeply or commits to build a deep relationship. The rest of the team is built under the leadership of this committed person.
Each Advocate Team will look different. Some will have a team leader with 6-8 additional people on the team while others will have a leader with just one or two additional people on the team. Both types of teams can serve as great care networks for our missionaries.
Depending on the team members’ season of life, people may need to step out of their Advocate Team. We ask, however, that team leaders commit to the missionaries’ full term (2-4 years) and/or be willing to replace themselves in this role if needed.
What Does An Advocate Team Do?
Teams can meet at anytime and anywhere, we just ask that each team meet once a month to fulfill their role as advocates.
The main role of an Advocate Team is to pray monthly as a team and on an individual basis. We also ask that you hold your missionary accountable to update you on their prayer needs.
Ask any missionary and they will tell you that they rarely stay connected with their friends and church family back home. Part of providing care to missionaries is the commitment to stay connected. Your missionary should hear from you at least once a month. This can happen through emails, Skype, handwritten letters, or any number of creative ways. Make sure this is part of your team meeting.
Send Care Packages
Nothing says I love you to a missionary quite like a box full of ranch dressing mix, chocolate, and a few good books! Advocate Teams will send at least two care packages a year to their missionary. The Advocate Team will need to incur the cost of these packages or partner with community groups to raise the needed funds.
Help with Departure and Arrival
Some of the hardest times for your missionary will be preparing to leave for the field and returning home for a stateside visit. There are a thousand things that need to be done and we ask that your team jump in and help as much as possible.
How Do We Get Started?
Email the Team
Once the team leader is in place, he/she can email others on the team or start recruiting for the team. Get everyone on an email list and start communicating with one another.
Email your Missionary
The team leader needs to email the missionary and let them know their Advocate Team is forming. Ask for prayer requests and invite the missionary to the first meeting via Skype.
Meet as a Team
Set a date for your first meeting. Pick a home to meet in and share a meal with one another. During this meeting make sure you get to know each other, pray for the missionary, and if possible talk to your missionary on Skype. Also make sure you set up a regular time and place to meet.
*If you are interested in joining an Advocate Team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org