21 Questions to Ask a Mission Agency

Figuring Out Mission Agencies

So, you want to be a missionary and you’re looking for people you can team up with to help you get from here to there. Did you know more than 5,000 organizations worldwide send out foreign missionaries?* And that’s not even counting the people sent directly by a church or who serve independently without joining or forming an organization. Even if you just count ministries that send people from the US, you might still have hundreds of options!

So how are you going to find the mission agency that’s best for you?

It’s a bit like dating. Or picking a college. Or choosing a career. It all depends what’s important to you. But to help you get started, we’re giving you 21 questions you can ask any mission agency. These questions will help you get a taste of what they are all about.

Mission Statement and Core Values

  • What is the agency’s mission? Do they have a mission statement?
  • What are the organization’s values? How are those demonstrated?

Organization

  • In what part of the world does the agency work? With what populations or groups?
  • Is the ministry centralized or decentralized? Are most decisions made by leaders in the sending country? International leadership? Or left to each field or team to decide?
  • Do they have a lot of policies or rules?
  • How large or small is the organization? Is it focused or diverse?
  • How old or new is it? What kind of experience do they have?
  • Does the agency have a denominational affiliation? Do most of their people come from a certain religious tradition or subculture?

Partnership with the Local Church

  • How does the agency connect with churches? What role would my church have in my ministry internationally? What about churches in the place where I’d serve?

Partnership with Other Agencies

  • Does the agency work with other agencies or groups? Which ones?

Ministry Practices

  • Does the organization send people out in teams? To join existing teams? Or individually?
  • If they plant churches, how do these churches operate? How are they led?
  • Are there certain strategies everyone is expected to use (or avoid)? Does the agency encourage new ministry methods and innovative ideas for ministry?
  • Who would decide what kind of ministry I would be involved in?

Member Care

  • How does the agency care for members on the field? What kind of support is provided and where does it come from?
  • How are missionaries held accountable? What kind of structures or feedback exist?
  • How long do people stay with the organization? What is the current rate of attrition?
  • Over the last ten years, has the agency been getting smaller, or bigger? At what rate?
  • How does the agency approach care and education for missionaries’ children?

Finances

  • How much money does each person raise? What does that cover? What percentage goes to administration? And what about benefits, or retirement?
  • What about debt? Would I need to take care of consumer debts and student loans before leaving for the field?

What questions would you ask a mission agency? Our mission mentors would love to chat with you.

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* The Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary estimates 5,400 foreign mission sending agencies. See Status of Global Christianity, 2019. Line 51.

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