As the External Focus Assistant, I'm often the gal you communicate with when you call or email about international partnerships, local service opportunities, and pretty much all the outreach opportunities in-between. It’s an adventure being on the frontlines of the process, because I get to hear about the amazing individual and collective impact we have as a Church - along with the impact of other organizations, churches, and Christians serving around the world.
But this also means I'm the gal that occasionally delivers a message someone doesn't want to hear. Bummer, right? But I've learned a lot from my time with the External Focus team, and it's been good to realize the good reasons for some less-than-exciting responses.
Can I donate towards a specific crisis through Watermark?
This is a great question and most recently came up after the tornadoes hit in the Garland area. However, Watermark doesn’t set up individualized funds for each crisis that occurs locally or internationally. Why?
First, we are excited for our body to invest personally in areas that align with their passion – whether it’s financially, in prayer, or with service. So when available, we would rather our members give to causes they're connected with in some way. As we've often said, giving is done best when it's in the context of relationship.
Second, we have a general Disaster Relief Fund that you can donate to at any time. This fund allows leadership to allocate money for various relief endeavors here and abroad. This model ensures that funds dedicated for disaster relief are always used for that purpose, through vetted and trusted partners.
Furthermore, accounts dedicated to a specific crisis often overflow beyond the actual need - but can't legally be used for anything else. A general account makes sure that funds are appropriated as needed for a relief effort, and then are free to be reallocated to other relief efforts if all needs are met.
Why do we send only members on international trips?
We love sending members on discipleship trips! But yes, membership is required. Why?
- Beliefs: As we go out with the intention of spreading God’s word, we have a very real enemy that strives to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Two of the easiest ways to be attacked are through our relationships with others and our understanding of God’s word. It is imperative that you know what you believe, and that you’re on the same page with those you’re traveling with before you’re on the ground and trying resist those attacks.
- Community: You need to set foot in a new country knowing that you have people back home that have been and are praying, supporting, investing in, and rallying around you. This is not just part of preparation but extends to the trip as well, and it will impact you whether you're gone for a week or a year.
- Serving: If you’ve been around Watermark long, you know that we believe you are always on mission. You don’t have to go on an international trip (although it’s amazing!) to reach the world. Investing in people here and now demonstrates an ongoing devotion to impact. This is a good heart-check to help you determine your motivations with an international discipleship trip.
Can I drop off donation items at Watermark?
This is another wonderful question, especially because it always means someone's being generous and thoughtful. Some churches have donation centers set up, but we've chosen not to maintain year-round drop-off locations. Let me share with you why.
We have had the privilege of developing local partnerships with trusted organizations that have ongoing impact in focused areas. Rather than accept material donations here at Watermark, we encourage you to take any donations to our partners. They have great avenues to distribute those resources well - and the know-how to use those resources even better than Watermark would because of their work.
Additionally, as you go to donate items, our partners can share even more of their vision with you and why they’re passionate about a particular area. Perhaps you will be inspired to engage in new ways with those organizations!
Reasons behind the Bummers
We know sometimes these answers can be inconvenient or disappointing. But hopefully this shares that there's always intention and thought that goes into them - we don’t really have “Just because” responses. These principles have helped us steward resources and shepherd volunteers, while also remaining accountable. I have learned in my role as team assistant that even when an answer is surprising, there is a purpose behind it!
Visit watermark.org/blog/external-focus every Tuesday to learn more about External Focus and the principles we build our ministry on.