Editor’s note: Over the past year, I have been sending out our prayer requests using a new website called Prayvine. Prayvine is a free and secure service for mission workers. It’s goal is to both increase the number of people who pray and also increase the number of people who let the missionary know that they are praying for them. I now regularly receive emails from more than 10% of my mailing list saying that they are praying for me. Many of them include personal comments. Recently, I received an email from Prayvine, listing some comments from Prayvine users about what they learned about using the service over the past year. This email can also found on the Prayvine blog. The founder and creator of PrayVine, Ian Hsu, has graciously give permission to repost it on our SEND U blog.
As we embark on a new year of partnership with donors and prayer supporters, it’s essential to reflect on the valuable lessons learned by mission workers in 2023. Through Prayvine, we gathered insights from those actively engaged in various ministries across the globe. Their experiences offer a wealth of wisdom for anyone seeking to strengthen connections with their ministry partners. Let’s delve into the top lessons shared by these dedicated individuals.
1. Communicate consistently with everyone, then ask for support individually.
“The occasional video helps, and in raising support don’t take for granted communicating out monthly. As we support raised this year, we heard from people on our email list that they had been following our updates and knew they wanted to support, but just kept forgetting until we called and asked.” – The Castros, pastoring & mobilization (Americas)
2. Prayvine users agree: shorter messages are more effective!
“People are busy. After 28 years, we’ve gotten the most people praying using PRAYVINE. The shorter the prayer the more people click, ‘I’m praying!'” – C&E, discipleship, debriefing & deliverance (Asia)
“Sharing short stories, pics, and videos that supporters will most likely view on their phones in 2-3 minutes is important. Platforms like Prayvine help us do that very thing!” – Jay S, campus ministry
“Shorter more frequent updates to supporters work well for me and them.” – Teresa Bailey (Africa/Middle East & Americas)
3. Be consistent in communicating. Keep at it, even if you don’t see a lot of response.
“Keep communicating even if you don’t get a response. People are busy, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t tracking with you. Don’t get discouraged, just keep communicating.” – Andy, education & administration
“I learned not to expect a huge response from a gathering or a support letter. Not everybody will respond, and that’s okay.” – Caleb Holschen, administration, education/training, mobilization & short-term trips
4. Prayer partners enjoy reading quotes from those whom you’re serving.
“Share direct quotes from those to whom you are ministering. We often share stories from our perspective, but sharing direct quotes is a short & fun way to help shrink the gap between your ministry and your partners.” – Trevor Ellison, campus ministry & mobilization
5. Don’t be shy: sharing widely about your ministry bears witness to God’s love and can result in unexpected support.
“Just starting out in missions, I started sending out newsletters to anyone I knew. Facebook is really good at connecting to people from way back when. I cast a really wide net, thinking, ‘Well, even if they aren’t Christian and aren’t interested in supporting me, this can be a Christian witness in their lives that they may not get anywhere else.’ And I did get support from people that I did not expect. So that’s my advice. Cast a wide net.” – Heidi (Asia)
6. Prayer partners want to know how God answered their prayers, so be sure to follow up.
“Our partners want to know what happened after we send out prayer requests – how were their prayers answered? They want specific but brief information so they can pray effectively and want to get timely updates so they can continue to pray more specifically. This applies to funding as well. After making a request, they appreciate updates so they know how much has been raised and how much is still needed.” – JE, church planting
7. Keep things fresh and surprise your prayer partners from time to time. Less is more!
“The ‘1 photo / 1 paragraph’ format of Prayvine has been extremely well received by my ministry partners. It seems that the timeless adage, ‘Less is More’ is actually true. Let me encourage you to resist the urge to treat Prayvine as you might other social media. The less is more principle applies not only to content amount, but to frequency as well. Daily messages may soon fall into the ‘routine’ category, thereby losing their ability to impact. A departure from your normal activities may be a perfect time to post as are unexpected prayer needs. Keeping things fresh is an art.” – Richard, pastoring & discipling (Americas)
8. Asking for prayer helps people love you better.
“Years ago, in a now out-of-print book by Alan Loy McGinnis (The Friendship Factor: How to Get Closer to the People You Care for), he wrote something like ‘if you want someone to love you, ask them to do something for you.’ I’ve learned the truth of this counterintuitive suggestion and encourage you to ask people, in person, for prayer. Be specific, be brief and be bold.” – Anonymous, church planting & disciple making movements (Europe)
9. Be vulnerable, because your supporters love you.
“Be honest about what’s hard. People will respond better than you fear.” -Nolan (Europe)
10. The Lord is sovereign over our lives and ministries, so let’s follow Him faithfully.
“2023 taught me that God’s way is not my way, so the best thing I can do towards it is to listen to God, obey Him and never give up.” – Anonymous, campus ministry & education/training (Africa)
These valuable insights from mission workers in 2023 serve as a guide for effective communication and partnership with ministry supporters. As we enter a new year, may these lessons inspire and encourage those involved in various missions to cultivate stronger connections with their partners. Remember, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV).