I recently came across an excellent list of questions that every missionary thinking of joining a missions agency should ask before signing up. This list, and the introductory paragraphs, were written by Dan Crane from the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton. They are reprinted with permission:
Choosing a Missions Agency is one of the most important decisions you as a missionary must make. This decision will dictate the large picture and small details of your ministry and daily living. So the more time and energy you can give to this decision, the better the fit you will have on the field.
Take this season in your life to examine key agencies you are interested in. The following guide can help you pinpoint the deeper issues that may be important to you. Talk to any agency’s reps, office personnel and field missionaries. God will use all this input to place you in the strategic position that you can be an effective co-worker for His Kingdom.
59 IMPORTANT QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK A MISSIONS AGENCY
1. What is the Purpose Statement of the agency?
2. Is there a list of the agency’s goals and objectives?
3. Are the agency’s ministries in line with their written purpose?
4. What is the number of field missionaries? Retirees? Home Staff?
Philosophy of Ministry
5. Where do unreached peoples fit into your goals?
6. Where is your main geographical focus?
7. How is the mission organized?
8. What percentage of the missionaries are from other countries?
9. Who is on the governing board of directors? How is the board active in strategy decisions?
10. What roles are open for women to serve with this agency?
11. What are the steps to join the agency?
12. What do you see as the role of the local church in the mission process?
13. What is the role of my home church during my time on the field?
14. What responsibility do I have to my home church during my home assignment?
15. How does the agency help the local church?
16. How does the agency view the family on the mission field?
17. What are the different expectations placed on single missionaries?
18. What are the expectations of the missionary spouse?
19. Who decides on the options for schooling of missionary kids?
20. What financial provision is made for missionary kids in college?
21. How difficult is it for missionaries to return from the field for family emergencies?
22. May I have a copy of your doctrinal statement with all the papers regarding important current issues?
23. Do you have issue papers on: The Sign Gifts; Divorce; Power Evangelism; Spiritual Mapping and Warfare; Reformed Theology; Women in Ministry; People movements; C-5 Evangelism?
24. What are the denominations working with your agency?
25. What are the groups that you will not cooperate with on the field?
26. Who has responsibility for initiating changes to the doctrinal statement and what was the last change?
27. Who does the missionary report to on the field?
28. Who makes the decision of the missionary’s field placement?
29. Who makes the decisions of strategy on the field?
30. Who evaluates the missionary’s field performance?
31. Who receives a copy of this evaluation?
32. Do the missionaries work over, under or alongside the national church?
33. Do you plant denominational or independent churches overseas?
34. Do you allow the missionary to get a tent making job on the field to help support himself?
35. What has been the rate of missionary growth in the agency?
36. What is the average age of missionaries in this agency?
37. How long does it take for the average appointee to make it to the field?
38. What is the greatest stress on the mission at this time?
39. What is your view of short-term teams?
40. What are your strengths and weaknesses as an agency?
41. How do you view innovation in strategy?
42. Do you offer a salary or am I required to raise my own support?
43. Are all funds pooled or individualized?
44. What is included and excluded in my support package?
45. What percentage of the missionary’s contribution will be used for home office expenses?
46. What is your philosophy of support raising?
47. Can a missionary opt to go to the field with less than full support?
48. What steps are taken if the missionary’s support falls while on the field?
49. How do you demonstrate accountability for money contributed?
50. What is the provision for health benefits?
51. Is Social Security involvement mandatory?
52. What are your views and provision for continuing education of missionaries?
53. What in-house training do you offer for your missionaries?
54. What are the provisions for retirement?
55. What guidelines/training do you offer in support raising?
56. Is God using the people of this agency significantly in His Kingdom now?
57. Are there people in this agency that think like I do?
58. Are there missionaries within the organization who will stimulate my creativity and thinking?
59. Will these people draw me closer to loving God?
“The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)