How to choose a mission agency
by David Crowe
by David Crowe
I say to people thinking about mission that the first decision is not “where do I go?” or “what will I do?”, but “Who will I trust my future to?”. In other words, they need to choose an agency. The aunty of one of our long-term workers said to her, “You find the organisation and let God find the place.” I think that is very sound.
Another early question is: “Who is on this journey with you? Do you have a team of pray-ers?” I want you to have a sense that your local church is standing with you, that they are the ones who will be releasing them for overseas service.
When choosing an agency, narrow your choice down to about three and then give yourself a time frame – maybe six months – to find out about them. Of course, you need to see if there are any doctrinal issues that would rule out an agency. But let’s say the three are standing alongside each other in terms of doctrine. How do you narrow it down?
Mission agencies are a people business and you need to find out about their values – what is important to them – and how they manage their people. These are not necessarily areas you will find out about on their website. I give people a list of questions and suggest they go and meet with a representative from each agency, a mobiliser or recruiter, and ask the questions that are most important to you.
You could ask about:
As well as asking your questions, get involved in the agency. Get their publications and literature. Go to functions and conferences and hear their people speak. Meet the people who are on the field and ask them what it has been like. Why did they choose this particular agency? Ask them if there are things about the agency they have found uncomfortable or awkward. How have they adjusted their expectations of the agency?
I also ask people early on – “who is a missionary that you are praying for now?” Build a relationship with them. Begin with a missionary supported by your church. As you start receiving their prayer letters you get a sense of what the agency is like.
Agencies will also want to know about you. I ask “what is motivating you towards global missions? What involvement do you presently have with missions?” You can have a strategic role right now as a sender or equipper. Whether we find that God leads you overseas as a go-er or you stay as a sender or equipper are you involved now in The Great Commission? I want to know how you think about other cultures. Some people think that the world view of other cultures is not as well developed as theirs, a sort of paternalism. You will need to be able to work in partnership with the local church, serving and building local believers to become a missionary church. Are you comfortable with them like this?
I would ask – “have you talked to your minister or youth leader about going?” Your local church should be involved from the start. Are you discipling people now, because the ministry you do when God takes you across cultures will come out of the ministry you have had here? When we next talk I will ask how your ministry has been going since our last conversation – not to discourage you but to nourish you and keep you moving forward.
David Crowe previously served as Interserve NSW State Director.
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