Member Care

Curious About the Origin of the Term, “Member Care?”

There’s been a great discussion since we asked the question in Brigada a few weeks ago. Posts include memories from the likes of Neal Pirolo. Some cited trainers such as Sam Rowen and Ken Harder. Read the entire thread at…

One friend (Randy) wrote with some private memories. “I’ve skimmed through my ’91 copy of Neal Pirolo’s book and did not quickly see the term member care. I also searched the digital copy he had posted in Blue Letter Bible and it did not appear there. However Kelly’s 1992 Helping Missionaries grow uses member care extensively. I suspect that Kelly who was then an up coming networker in missionary care was pushing the term member care because of his contacts in limited access countries where terms like missionary care and pastoral care could not be used. Kelly also had a broader view than his own discipline of psychology and mental health which is reflected in that ’92 book. I’ll probably ask him about it, if I remember, the next time I see him.”

He continued, “In Clyde Narrimore’s radio broadcast which I mentioned he would mention how he served missionaries on furlough. It seems the precurser to what we now call debriefing. I was only a child then, but his perspective on missionaries needing care was so different than the monthly missionaries we heard in church were missionaries were still veiwed as sort of spiritual superheros.”

He finished off with a reflection, “It is interesting to now see the explosion of missionary care that is now taking place over a half a century later.” Indeed. Thanks Randy. Do you have other memories about the exact origin of the term?

We Asked About the Origin of the Phrase “Member Care” Recently

We wondered where this term might have originated. One contributor responded, “There was a book published first in February, 1991 titled, “Serving As Senders: How to CARE for your Missionaries While they are preparing to go, While they are on the field and When they come home.” The author recently commented to Brigada, “We have come to like to use the phrase Paul used in commending the people in the church of Philippi: ‘I thank God every time I pray for you, for it brings back to my remembrance how you have been PARTNERS IN THE GOSPEL from the very first day even until now.’ They never traveled with him, yet he called them partners. … Different tasks; different responsibilities-yet PARTNERS in the accomplishment of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A LOT has happened in this area of missionary (member) care since that date! To the glory of God! AND, to the better care of missionaries!” (God bless you Neal Pirolo!) If you’d like to order an updated copy of Neal’s book, you can find it on Amazon, by the way, at…

8) This Past Week, a Church Asked for Resources in Member Care

If you were the one on the other end of the phone, how might you have answered? For example, would you send the church leader to…

which is a free ebook introducing missionary member care? It’s incredibly comprehensive and it essentially introduces everything else we would have thought of introducing anyway, right? The only other thing I could think about was asking a member care practitioner herself (a part-time worker on Team Expansion’s staff) to contact the church leader directly to come share directly with the leadership at this church. Of course, some orgs specialize in helping churches focus on these questions. For example, TRAIN International offers…

So how would YOU have answered?

2) “Healthy, Resilient, And Effective”: the book [updated 5/26/2015]

member care bookDr. Laura Mae Gardner (SIL/Wycliffe) has written extensively on caring for missionaries and cross-cultural workers. Now, she has prepared a member care guidebook that just might set a benchmark for the state of the art.

It’s a kind of manual which defines the vision, the challenge, and a host of practical case studies and tools to help us get started. You can also obtain it in the UK and Europe here…

and in Asia here…

2) Curious about the Link Between Member Care and Unreached Peoples?

Have you ever noticed that member care types seem ever-present around organizations and events related to unreached people groups? I have. I was always curious how that worked — and then I discovered this article, by Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell. Check it out…

Question answered. At least in the lives of these two banner-wavers for member care, we now have a clear picture of how their lives and unreached peoples became meshed. We celebrate what God is doing in and through global servants like the O’Donnells — and we hope and pray many will follow their lead.

12) Get “Global Integration Updates” re: Global Member Care

careInterested in learning more about how missionary/member care efforts are making an impact around the world? Want to integrate your member care efforts with those being offered to the mega-orgs being sponsored at global levels by groups like the U.N. ? Now you can. Check out a copy at…

As always, these are made available to us by Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell. The latest Update is below and includes core information/links on the world community’s efforts (via the UN and civil society) to promote human well being and protect our planet. It can help colleagues committed to Christian mission to get a quick overview on the Post 2015 Sustainable Development agenda. To sign up, just visit…

1) O’Donnells Release Volume Two of Global Member Care

MemberCare_Cover_PRESS jpgKelly O’Donnell and Michèle Lewis O’Donnell have been at it again. You’re probably familiar with their breakthrough work in member care. After all, their work on “Doing Member Care Well” fairly much defined an industry. Now they’ve released another landmark work, Volume Two of Global Member Care. See the description and promotional materials at…

As they have done on previous occasions, they’re also giving away a lot of free resources at…

Hats off to them for their unselfishness. We should all buy the book to say thanks for all the times they give their ideas and teachings away for free. :-) You can always buy the book on Amazon at…

(Thanks for all your work, Kelly and Michèle. For more on this work, see the BackPage editorial below.)

1) Great Member Care Resources

MemberCareWow. Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell, with website at…

wrote this past week with a virtual cornucopia of member care recourses. I was completely bowled over by how far the “industry” had come in the last 20 years. Take a look:

First, grab the PDF copy of their list of 100+ member care books and resources at…

Then take a look at these other resources:

*Member care database indexed at Mental Health Resources for Cross-Cultural Workers

*E-books/materials from Missionary Care

*Media materials available at Member Care Media

*Member care-related books for sale: William Carey Library Publishers

Mission Training International

Society for Human Resource Management

People in Aid

Headington Institute (e.g., training modules;

Families in Global Transition

Intercultural Press

Bibliography of articles from the 1960s-1987 in Helping Missionaries Grow (1988, Appendix)

Partial listing of materials in other languages

Member Care: 50 Years-50 Quotes (1964-2013)

Materials at Global MCA from different sectors and relevant for member care and mission/aid (see “Vol 2 Resources” and “Vol 2 Updates”)

Materials on Brigada (search “member care” and “books”,

(They get extra thanks for pointing their friends and readers to this last resource!!! :-) )

3) Visit a Missionary-Focused Retreat Center Next Trip to USA

CabinEdenRidge, a missionary retreat center, welcomed over 300 missionaries in 2013. This missionary-focused facility is gearing up for a great year and invites missionaries from around the world who may be on furlough this year to visit. EdenRidge is located on the Cumberland Plateau about an hour West of Knoxville. For more information or to make a reservation please visit


If you have any questions about EdenRidge please email them at restatedenridgedotorg.

5) Music and Bible Resources Free for Field Workers

MfM is an organization that seeks to bless and encourage Field Workers, especially those in isolated or difficult locations. MfM sends its resources without charge to any field worker who applies. They offer a range of praise-worship style CDs sent by snail-mail or secure download from their password-protected website…

The secure website also offers a range of ebooks (some also as eReader files) for Bible study or as teaching or preaching resources. All MfM offers are available without charge to any Field Worker who applies. Contact PaulGatmfm4udotcom for further information.

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