After 30-plus years as a missionary, I have seen the wide and wonderful diversity in the people God calls to be missionaries! And everyone has different expectations about how they will go overseas and what kind of mission agency or “sending structure” they will use.
Some folks are so determined to do things their way, there’s no way they will survive working within a mission agency.
Others are totally committed to doing things as a team and won’t go without a sending agency and a team.
And there’s everything in between.
Determined to do it on your own and in your way? Consider these questions.
See this post on critical tasks to have in order if you choose not to go with a mission agency. Keep these in mind, too:
- How will you receive donations and receipt them with an IRS-approved receipt? How will that money get to you in [insert vast and distant land, possibly without reliable wi-fi] and be exchanged for currency you can use?
- What kind of visa will you apply for to stay long term?
- Consider trauma-, evacuation-, disaster-, and oh-no-level situations in which a mission agency normally provides support and seasoned, educated protocols.
Who will find you and help your wife bail you out of jail when you disappear one day because you were involved in a traffic accident?
There are countries where, when there is an accident that results in someone being seriously injured, the driver involved is simply taken to jail until the person gets out of the hospital. And “no” you don’t get one free phone call. Sometimes those countries have a special “chauffers’ jail” where you can go instead (if you paid for that policy). These actually feed you and provide you with a blanket.
- Are you aware that your passport nation taxes often change when you live overseas a certain number of days a year? Will you have to pay income taxes in the country you go to live in?
- Are you planning to make every cultural blunder yourself or will you learn from others you’re connected with?
In light of this…
I need to ask–why re-invent the wheel? There are people who have been there and done it. And you will get much further down the road faster if you benefit from their experience.
Let me be clear: No mission agency will be a perfect match. There will always be things that you just have to live with. Be diligent to search beforehand for a match on the priorities most important to you.
Still not convinced? A number of groups help provide legal coverage and financial services to free you up for ministry. Find them here.
What questions should you ask in choosing a solid mission agency?
For those of you already convinced, start with What is a Missions Agency and Why You Should Use One? You’ll find ideas to consider as you align yourself with a quality sending entity.
But how will you choose an agency that is a good match for you? What questions should you ask? That’s where the following articles shine!
- Don’t miss Go. Serve. Love’s Meet an Agency series, as well as the pros and cons of going with an agency. And lately, we’ve added tips on Choosing an Emotionally Healthy Missions Organization.
We also are aware not all of you will go as traditional missionaries. Don’t miss our BUSINESS AS MISSION (BAM) :: BUSINESS FOR TRANSFORMATION (B4T) page.
- Missio Nexus, a national organization representing the missions movement in the U.S., offers wise, thoughtful Advice for Picking a Mission Agency.
- This well-known question and answer site (and our sister site!) for those considering becoming a missionary has a section about mission agencies. Various missionaries have responded with broad considerations to eight specific questions about criteria for selecting mission agencies.
- Grace Bible Church in Houston offers a thoughtful article (created originally by Christar) with 11 topics to explore regarding your agency–and notably, why they’re so valuable to ask about.
- The former Arab World Ministries–which merged into Pioneers–produced this valuable pdf outlining the value of going with an agency and how to choose an agency.
Right questions = seeing beyond the answers
As with any decision involving mutual commitment and working together, asking the right questions will help you get the info you need to make a wise decision. But it also hopefully gives you a feel for the ethos and values of the sending organization you are considering.
Ask questions of the home office staff and also ask questions of the folks who are on the field actually doing the ministry. That will round out your picture. The folks on the field usually will give you more details and be a bit more candid because they live there and know the complete story.
Wishing you the best as you walk this path!
Global veteran David Armstrong. He’s set foot in 15 countries. David confesses Crepes and Waffles in Bogota, Colombia is one of his favorite restaurants.
Don’t miss his post on building community overseas.