Thanks to easily accessible and reliable video-conferencing tools like Skype and FaceTime, having a ‘virtual visit’ from a missionary as part of a Sunday church can be an encouraging and informative time. Here are ten tips to make the most of the short slot:
- Arrange the interview well in advance. The missionary you are interviewing might have to get up early, stay up late, or have other things on. If time-zones are not your friend, record the interview.
- Sometime during the week before the interview, do a practice run to make sure the technology works. Work out which cable connects where, what the password to the church wifi is, and how to get rid of that annoying echo. Technical failures during Sunday morning quickly turn a potentially encouraging interview into a frustrating experience.
- Have the interviewer talk to the missionaries before the interview. The ten minutes on the Sunday should not be an opportunity for the interviewer to ‘get to know’ the missionary.
- Write the interview questions down, and send them to the missionaries in advance. The interview time goes quickly, and having planned questions allows for concise and thoughtful answers, as well as pre-thought over who is going to say what.
- Ask specific questions related to recent events in the ministry of the missionary. A great place to start is their most recent prayer letter. A well-worded question can also quickly provide the background, meaning more time can be spent answering the question. For example, I was recently asked: “You were recently in Peru, teaching at a preaching workshop for local pastors. How did Peruvian pastors receive teaching from a foreigner?”
- Ask questions that allow the missionary to speak of cultural differences in their ministry. Most missionaries are serving in different cultural situations, so allow them to speak about that. For example “How is children’s ministry different in your context?”
- Try to avoid general or trivial questions. What is life like in your country? So how’s it going over there? What sort of ice cream do you like? Make the most of the time by asking specific and edifying questions.
- Ask for specific prayer points, and ask the missionary to have them prepared. Depending on time constraints, you can pray for the missionaries while they are online, or once they sign off. Just make sure you do it!
- Use the interview as an opportunity to promote partnership with the missionary and/or their organization. If the missionary is linked with your church, remind the congregation of your relationship, and talk about what it means. Give people the opportunity to sign up for prayer points and to be giving financially.
- Use the missionaries to help promote mission in your church. Have a ‘missionary Sunday’ or a ‘missionary month’ in which you call all of the missionaries associated with your church.
If you’ve got other ideas, why not share them in the comments on our Facebook page?