How Does “Member Care” develop?

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As our team continues to learn and sharpen our skills in this work, through much trial and error, we have begun to conceptualize what a "Spectrum of Development in Member Care" might look like! This may be only the draft of a “Best Practice” guide, but we hope it can act as an aid for churches and mission organizations involved in mobilizing ministry personnel, either domestically or internationally.

This kind of scale does not yet exist to our knowledge, and has emerged through the wrestling toward healthy influence in our own organization, and through the increasing opportunities we have had to provide consultation to other churches, mission organizations and denominational headquarters desiring to improve their member care stewardship.

So, here's an initial stab!

We encourage you to think about your own church or ministry context as you consider these developmental steps:

Beginnings of Member Care awareness

STEP 1: Initial realization that a functioning HR Dept. alone, though important, does not constitute effective Member Care!

STEP 2: Acquiring "on-call" external resources—e.g. availability of outside psychologists, trainers, pastoral counselors, specialists—for reactionary or responsive care in times of need or crisis on the field.

Early Maturity into Effective Member Care

STEP 3: Acquiring part-time or full-time staff whose job is solely to provide professional member care to staff in many areas as need for sustainability in ministry (i.e. training, assessment, counseling, intercession, care for family and TCKs, debriefing, and so on).

STEP 4: A priority focus on long-term sustainability of staff, and life-long learning posture is taught, expected and rewarded. This does not stall mobilization, but actually catalyzes it. Member Care is apparent at every step of the staff journey—recruiting, assessment, pre-field training, on-going training and care, transition assessment, and post-field debriefing. It is integrated into the organizational culture, and continues to be affirmed and supported in staff gatherings and through availability of an effective and multi-disciplinary member care team.

Effective Member Care for Responsible Stewardship and Kingdom leverage

STEP 5: In addition to the Step 4 level of maturity, the member care presence is available in some effective form in each substantive team or group, or available at easily accessible regional locations for optimum long-term thriving on the field, as is possible. It is easily accessible as needed. Member care professionals and team/regional leaders enjoy regular interaction and relational equity in partnership toward the development and care of field staff.

So, where would you place your church or organization on this scale of responsible stewardship of leaders?

What next tangible step would help move the member care effectiveness in your field to the next level, for increased and resilient Kingdom impact?

In our organization, we seem to continue to wrestle in the #4 stage, with shades of immaturity still showing, but also promising stirrings into the #5 range.

We encourage you to initiate the impactful conversations this week that need to take place to move your group forward…

—Jeff Simons, Leadership & Cross-cultural Coach, team SentWell

Member CareJeff Simons