As Christians who care about helping others, our efforts to reach out can have positive, limited or negative results. Our effectiveness may depend on mindsets or views of others and how to work with them. I believe this to be true in ministry as a child sponsor.
Here are three choices I believe anyone can make to enable more effective ministry in any context. Whether you’re a major organization or a ministry team of one, consider these ideas as you reach out to others — including to your sponsored child.
FIRST, CONTINUE TO CHOOSE A BIBLICAL VIEW OF OTHERS.
Effective, Christ-honoring ministry requires that we view others through the image in which God created them: His own. Galatians 3:26-28 says that we are all God’s children through our faith in Jesus Christ: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” So, the biblical way to view others is as our equals, even as we serve them.
At Compassion, we strive to be trusted partners of local churches in the developing world with whom we ally to serve children. We believe Christ left His missional mandate to the Church, not to nonprofits. We also believe that in a true partnership, both contributors have equal value as they use their different resources for a common purpose. Compassion brings child-development expertise, supporting staff and financial resources, while the local church brings leadership, volunteers, facilities, cultural understanding and community relationships.
As a sponsor, you are partnering with dedicated child development center workers in a local church who serve alongside your sponsored child’s family to encourage the child, who is also your equal. You can speak into your sponsored child’s life and share the truth of who he or she is in Christ. And you can learn and grow as you interact along the way.
SECOND, COMMIT TO EMPOWERING OTHERS.
Because you view them as equals through our faith in Christ, it is easier to think about how you can minister in a way that unleashes possibilities for others.
Compassion seeks to empower pastors and staff in partnering churches to own and grow their ministries in their communities. It’s not Compassion’s child ministry, but the church’s. Through long-term partnership, our goal is to enable the local church to develop ministry vision, better leadership, greater ability to mobilize resources, and higher capacity to manage all of their church programs.
In your role as a sponsor, you can commit to empowering your sponsored child as you help her see and take hold of God’s promises for her life. Be real with her in acknowledging challenges, and suggest scriptural options she can choose to navigate obstacles. Help her believe that the future can be different as she trusts in God and His Word.
THIRD, BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND.
Lewis Carroll wrote, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” In ministry relationships, it is crucial to communicate about the wisest path to reach a desired destination. It is also vital to understand the intended length of work and what can be achieved in that time.
As these commitments are worked out, it’s equally important to deliver on them in a way that builds trust.
Compassion focuses significant effort on the selection of church partners and the best ways to launch and manage those relationships. We talk openly about our shared vision for the Church and how it will look when she’s vibrant and thriving. We establish clear accountabilities and agreements about the best ways to reach our common objective of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
Similarly, consider the child you sponsor. What have you learned about his dreams, about what his family or church staff envision for him? Structure your efforts — letters, gifts and visits — to intentionally encourage and support what you know of your child’s long-term goals and desires.
Effective ministry requires intentionality in making choices for how we think, which drives our actions. In what ways can you renew your approach and reach out most effectively today?