How the CMM’s Member Care team fuels the work of mobilization through stewarding relationships.
Mission cannot exist without people. People cannot sustain mission without being cared for themselves. Member Care exists to serve the CMM by forging a healthy culture that glorifies God and empowers staff to thrive in effective and sustainable service. This means addressing four aspects of health for staff: emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally. “Personal health lends to healthy teams and therefore, builds healthy and sustainable mobilization movements” says Jamie, who serves as the head of Member Care. She recognizes that in ministry and in mission, people influence others knowingly and unknowingly in the mobilization process.
Human influence is natural and unavoidable. Believers will produce disciples and mobilizers “after their own kind.” That fact always poses risk within the mission world.
Human influence is natural and unavoidable. Believers will produce disciples and mobilizers “after their own kind.” That fact always poses risk within the mission world. Jamie believes the way we steward ourselves and others impacts our ministry directly.”There’s no way around that. It’s how we see ourselves, care for ourselves, what we believe about ourselves and our circumstances that determines the quality of our ministry, and, whether or not that ministry leads others to health or dysfunction in their own lives.” Walking staff through what it means to be healthy involves raising awareness of different spheres of care mission workers need in life: care from the Lord, care for themself and care for others. Member Care wants to infuse a culture of self-stewardship in the CMM. Much of what Jamie and her team does is based on helping people practically work through their spiritual development, self-care, and best practices in stewarding their relationships well.
Member Care’s vision statement is “Calling people to honesty about where they are in their lives, showing up humbly, bringing authenticity to what they are doing”. This statement extends to both overseas staff and staff based in the U.S. “We are all about helping people live honestly” Jamie says. In that quest, Member Care commits itself to walking staff through a host of circumstances they may find themselves in while doing mobilization by providing a listening ear and supplying staff with relevant resources that speak to different obstacles and challenges. Jamie and her team are always trying to stay informed of the latest resources and trainings that speak to topics like team conflict, transition, stress, and self-care on the mission field. They also have an established event called Rest to Run, a retreat experience designed to help team members rest and refocus their vision as a team.
Jamie and her team is passionate about helping staff process how living on their assigned field affects them, both positively and negatively. To their credit, Member Care also acknowledges they do not take the place, nor should, of professional counseling. Jamie is very aware of what Member Care can offer staff and what is outside the realm of their expertise. Sometimes a staff member needs the skill of licensed mental healthcare worker to help them walk through specific challenges. Member Care also seeks to de-stigmatize counseling and mental health, especially within mission circles. A high rate of mission workers suffer in silence in the midst of toxic team dynamics, trauma, displacement, and layers of stress that come with living cross-culturally. Mission workers should feel empowered to ask for help without shame or feeling “compromised” as a follower of Jesus.
A high rate of mission workers suffer in silence in the midst of toxic team dynamics, trauma, displacement, and layers of stress that come with living cross-culturally. Mission workers should feel empowered to ask for help without shame or feeling “compromised” as a follower of Jesus.
Care works hard to establish a culture of safety around emotional and mental health issues within the CMM; a large amount of their effort is focused on coming alongside staff to support them in the issues they face on the field.
When a staff member prepares to launch to their assigned location, they are required to go through security training and attend MTI, a month-long training that prepares workers to live overseas and then transition back once their commitment overseas is finished. Once a team has planted in their assigned city, Member Care schedules touch points with each team member once a month and conducts individual stress assessments at the three, six and twelve month mark. Jamie and her team also do personal coaching and love supplying teams with a wealth of resources relevant to their needs. Member Care heavily invests in the development of each CMM team and guide them through conflict mediation. Because healthy team equals healthy ministry, a considerable amount of training is dedicated to coaching teams through healthy conflict, forming conflict profiles, preferences and conflict norms. Jamie personally recommends Watermark Community Church’s Conflict Field Guide and the sermon series that goes with it.
Mission cannot exist without people. Mission cannot be sustained without people. People cannot sustain mission without care. The success of mobilization movements depends on the quality of the people stewarding that movement. Producing quality staff takes time, empathy, wisdom, attention and diligence. Stewarding staff relationships take on many forms: a Zoom call. A stress assessment. A listening ear. A visit. A retreat. A training. Whatever the need, the Member Care team stands fully ready to walk beside and surround the staff at the CMM whenever a need arises. If they can help sustain teams and help produce healthy people who produce healthy mission movements, Member Care reaps the joy of watching growth that honors God and honors people in the field of mission mobilization.
*Chris and Jamie Suel have been with the CMM for 4 years. Before coming to the CMM, they served overseas for 6+ years with another organization. During that time, they experienced the many highs and lows that accompany life on the mission field. They are passionate about using their gifts and experiences to help forge a healthy missional culture where people can thrive. Jamie and Chris believe their most strategic role is to encourage, equip and advocate for each staff member so that they are able to thrive and experience longevity in what God has called them to do – make disciples of all nations.
Chris and Jamie Suel have 6 children, ages 14-24, and live in Bryan, TX.