This is how we go about scheduling meetings…
We start with a list of churches. We currently have over 700 possibilities in our database (not including the ones who have already told us “no”). We began with churches that we know personally, or have a personal connection to. Having graduated from Bible College, we know friends serving the Lord all over the world.
Next we take the list of churches (sorted by state) from our Mission Board and begin to sift through them. This list gets outdated very quickly as churches grow, merge, change pastors, move locations, etc. So we look up each church on the internet to verify the information. If they don’t have a website, we usually eliminate the church. From the website we look at the church, the Pastor, where the Pastor graduated from, what kind of programs the church has, read the doctrinal statement, listen to the pastor’s sermon (if needed), and check out their list of missionaries. Since Independent Baptist Churches are, well, independent (autonomous), each one has a slightly different view on certain issues of doctrine and separation. We want to make sure the churches we are calling and visiting are in line with our position on these issues.
Once the list is whittled down, Ben begins to make phone calls. Sometimes he calls close to 100 churches in a day! Most of the time he gets an answering machine or leaves a message with a secretary. If it is a good calling day he gets to speak to a lot of pastors directly. After we call, we send a digital information packet about our family and ministry in NYC. Then Ben follows up with several more phone calls until he gets an answer – “yes” or “maybe” we can have you visit, or “no” we aren’t taking on any new missionaries.
Ben told me the stats are that for every 10 calls you make you might get to speak to one pastor. For every 10 pastors you talk to, you can probably book one meeting. We have been in a different church just about every Sunday and Wednesday for a year. We are at 40% of our support, but several of our supporters are individuals. We have five supporting churches.
Each church supports their missionary at different amounts, so it is hard to predict how long deputation will take or how many supporting churches we will need. We were told the average for graduates from Ambassador Baptist College is 18 months to two years. The average for our mission board is about 3-3.5 years.