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March 16, 2017

Adopt A Missionary

By Daniel Im

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Adopt A Missionary

This past January, the Passion Conference partnered with Compassion International to sponsor 7,000 poverty-stricken children in El Salvador, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Indonesia. As many of you know, Compassion International is a child-advocacy ministry that pairs compassionate people with those suffering from poverty.

While there are other ministries like Compassion, the thing that makes them so effective at pairing compassionate people with children suffering from poverty is the personal touch. When you see stories of how regular, ordinary people have helped poverty-stricken children in simple ways through monthly support, and then they pass out sponsorship packages of personalized pictures of individual children with their age, location, and general information, it’s hard not to be moved and want to be involved.

What if there was something like Compassion for churches to adopt, or sponsor, a missionary? Recently, I chatted with Jair Campos, Director of the Missionary Adoption Program with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, about what the Baptist General Convention is doing for their churches in pairing them with missionaries and global church planters in Brazil. Interestingly, what they are doing for Texas-based churches to engage in mission work in Brazil is similar to what Compassion does in pairing people with poverty-stricken children around the world.

Overall, the Missionary Adoption Program that Jair oversees, partners churches in Texas with churches in a host country to jointly sponsor a missionary. Such a partnership helps missionaries to focus on evangelism, discipleship, and church planting. In addition, the convention serves as a conduit for training and supporting the missionaries and church planters as well as the means by which churches back home in the U.S. can both hear and engage in the work being done on the ground.

As Jair explained what they do, I saw at least two main ways an Adopt-A-Missionary program could enhance a local church’s engagement in global church planting and mission work around the world.

First, it can move churches from general cooperation to personalized partnerships. I’ve been in many churches where they give, generally, to a denomination, association, or network that supports and funds international mission, but they themselves didn’t personally know or support a missionary. For example, the Southern Baptist Convention has around 46,000 churches cooperating together, pooling their resources through the Cooperative Program. A portion of the CP goes to support roughly 5,000 international missionaries serving with the International Mission Board. While many of the 46,000 churches may know of and support some of the IMB missionaries as well as other missionaries around the world, still a large portion does not. Thus, an Adopt-A-Missionary program is a great way to move churches from general cooperation to personalized partnerships with missionaries and church planters across the globe.

How does personalized partnership enhance engagement? It puts a face with a cause. I think the reason why many churches aren’t engaged and excited about the mission of God abroad is because they don’t know a missionary serving on the ground. Once again, because Passion Conference and Compassion International personalized sponsorships between college-aged students and poverty-stricken children, they were able to mobilize thousands of college-aged students to sponsor 7,000 children. If I had to guess, if Passion and Compassion just took up an offering to be distributed to “poverty-stricken children” around the world, the chances of them collecting enough to support 7,000 children would have been slim. In short, people may give to a general cause, but they will sacrifice for specific vision.


  • What if there were adoption-like programs similar to Compassion International for churches to adopt, or sponsor, a missionary?
  • How an Adopt-A-Missionary program can enhance a local church’s engagement in global church planting and missions work.
  • An Adopt-A-Missionary program can move local churches from general cooperation to personalized partnerships.
  • People may give to a general cause, but they will sacrifice for specific vision.
  • An Adopt-A-Missionary program provides churches with a strategic place to engage in short-term mission trips.


Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Director of Church Multiplication for NewChurches.com at LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.


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