I was watching a missionary program on TV and it got me thinking – what if the church gave me the responsibility of creating a new missionary organization completely different than anything that was currently around? Well, I put some thought into it and this is what I came up with:

Missionary “PODS”

Each POD would be an elite, trained, well financed group consisting of 4 specialists (think “special forces”) including 2 adults and 2 students that can be effective in a variety of settings and situations including remote areas in the third-world and “civilized” first world cities:

  1. Evangelist Missionary (EM)
  2. Operations Missionary (OM)
  3. Technology Missionary (TM)
  4. Anchor Missionary (AM)

These PODS would be sent on a 1 year long mission. Missionaries are actually paid for their service. Students can apply money toward college education. Missions would put technology to use including Macs, Projectors, Solar Power, Digital SLR Cameras, Netbooks, Walkie Talkies and Satellite Phones among other things.

There would be an overarching not-for-profit organization run by an executive team (ET) to oversee and direct all of the PODS (in a way, like a venture capital firm). Each POD would receive an initial “investment” from the ET to get them started and each POD would benefit from the experience and wisdom of the ET.

Each POD mission would start with 2 months of training and fund-raising. Each POD team would then deploy for 9 months and return for a 1 month wrap-up.

I would brand the organization to be stylish and hip (think Product Red) to get youth involved. I would approach each situation with the innovative mind-set Steve Jobs uses when new markets and developing new products for Apple.

POD Member Roles and Responsibilities

Each POD member would have a very specific role to play in the mission:

OM: (Adult – Remote Team Leader – Paid $20,000) Secures overseas evangelism site. Purchases and handles supplies. In charge of party morale and security. Survival and emergency training.

EM: (Student – Paid $10,000) Onsite Bible studies, baptisms. Finds local interpreter. Raises awareness for overseas meetings.

TM: (Student – Paid $10,000) Overseas all overseas technology implementation and operation. Remote site tech setup. Communications.

AM: (Adult – Paid $20,000) Handles all domestic POD operations including securing funding, communicating with remote team, promotion, web updates.

Financing POD Missions

I bet you are wondering how I would finance all of these crazy ideas, aren’t ya? I would primarily use Micro-Financing and PayPal’s subscription functionality. By Micro-Financing I mean getting funding through a mass of people, the benefit of which is that it becomes entirely affordable for the average Joe to support a POD because his individual burden would be quite light. It would be the job of the AM to secure additional funding after the ET initially seeded the POD. The goal would be to get 128 people pledging a total of $10,000 per month ($120,000/y) to support each POD, broken down something like this:

  • 45 people pledging $5/w ($900/m)
  • 40 people pledging $10/w ($1,600/m)
  • 25 people pledging $25/w ($2,500/m)
  • 11 people pledging $50/w ($2,200/m)
  • 7 people pledging $100/w ($2,800/m)

Essentially, 1-2 churches should easily be able to finance one POD per year. In addition to micro-financing each POD, the main organization would also sell printed mission action books and videos with awesome photos and stories of each POD mission to help raise money. The main organization would have a fund to help sustain PODs in financial trouble.

The Fun Part

The main organization would have a super-awesome website (hey, I am a web designer by day) where POD updates could be posted via Twitter and donations could be made. The site would also have cool stats on how many baptisms, Bible studies, villages and countries reached for God and more had been accomplished by the PODs. Think how fun it would be to receive a Twitter update 3 or 4 times a day talking about the latest baptisms and Bible studies. The whole idea of these POD missions would be to show those who are supporting the PODs the effects of their contributions in the work of God in real-time and in a tangible way. When the AM goes to churches promoting a POD they could show a Twitter feed of recent POD activity. I think it would be enough to get a lot of people who aren’t involved in missions excited about spreading the Word of God.

(By the way, this post first appeared on my original MAUC blog on December 4, 2009. Since I posted it here, I deleted it there. An interesting fact is that this very post sparked my wife and I to create a non-profit organization based on some of the concepts discussed here, so,  you will begin to see these ideas being implemented in the real world sometime soon… stay tuned!).