Choosing A Missionary Agency
Going to the mission field can be one of the toughest and most challenging—yet exciting callings in a person’s life. Missionary work is tough and challenging because there are so many cultural, spiritual, linguistic, and logistical barriers that might limit one’s ability to go; but it is also exciting and rewarding because Christ said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38). God has ordained for His Word to go forth by the obedience of His people, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ…how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:17,14b). These promises ignite the desire in a Christian’s heart to pursue their missionary calling, and often the understanding of who God is and trusting in His word will keep the fire for missions going. This theological motivation coupled with emotional excitement can sometimes cause missionaries to embark on their quest of going to the field, without first laying the proper logistical foundation for their mission—which can bring about disastrous results.
There are basic things that all missionaries need to know and consider before going to the field, but one of the most neglected points is choosing the right agency. This article will address five main points a person must consider before choosing a missionary agency with whom to partner.
Does it really matter?
Absolutely! Finding the right missions organization is not only essential but vital to the success of your ministry. A good missionary agency connects your ministry to something bigger. Your work is not just limited to the geographical area in which you serve, but it is part of an entire network of God-fearing people who serve Him across the globe; including churches that support their missionaries back home. Such an organization deepens the relationships in this network and encourages connection amongst the different parts of Christ’s body.
How to choose a missionary agency
You may be reading this because you know you are one who is called into fulltime missions, and you are praying about how to make that happen. Or you may already be on the mission field without a reliable home office and beginning to realize how crucial it is to partner with a reputable missionary agency that can help make you more effective in your mission field; one that can reliably handle all the logistics in processing your donors’ donations. Whatever your current situation may be, make sure you consider how the organizations you are considering lining up in the following four critical areas before choosing the one that is right for you.
When it comes to missions, theology might be one of the most neglected and underestimated aspects for many missionaries and missions organizations. The infamous saying amongst many missionaries is, “Give me Jesus and take your theology.” This is absolute nonsense and might be one of the worst statements a missionary can make! Statements like this expose the shallowness of the maturity in the life of the person and the lack of a proper understanding of what Christianity is. John Piper, founder, and teacher of DesiringGod.org states:
The depth and breadth of doctrinal understanding thought to be important for Christians and missionaries has been too shallow and too narrow. This low standard of biblical understanding is then passed on to the younger churches. The result is that the initial enthusiasm has no deep roots, and leadership in biblical study is not prized, and nominalism sets in.
There is a reason why many missionaries end up either preaching the wrong Gospel or abandoning the faith. It is because of their continual undermining of the role of theology in missions. The most basic questions that people around the world have about life, religion, and God require remarkable thoughtfulness and understanding if missionaries are to answer them with biblical integrity and helpfulness. To give a proper answer and apologia, one must have a proper theological understanding of biblical truths. After all, the reason we are in the mission field is that we believe that all faiths have improper understandings of God (i.e., bad theology), while Christianity is the only faith that has the proper understanding (i.e., correct theology). Our mission is a mission to fix their theology by God’s grace.
At Mission Quest, we know theology matters, and it impacts all aspects of not only our lives and ministry but especially the life and calling of the missionaries and donors we support. We take this very seriously and clearly state not only our vision and mission statements on our Website but also our foundational biblical values by which we operate: We are a God-glorifying, Christ-centered, Gospel-driven missionary service organization that was established by missionaries for missionaries to the praise and glory of God.
Philosophy in missions.
The second major consideration when evaluating and deciding on the right missionary agency is to consider their philosophy in missions: their view of the goal of their mission, the missionary, and their approach to achieving their vision.
The ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God (Psalm 96:3; Isaiah 48:9-11; 1 Cor 10:31; Eph 3:21). As Christ was given one mission by the Father (John 17:4), He, in turn, gives only one mission to His church (John 17:18; Matt 28:19-20). The church exists in the world for the same ultimate purpose for which Christ came—to reveal the glory of God in the Gospel to all men (2 Cor 4:15; 1 Peter 2:9). This is also the Great Commission, the mission of the church, to see God’s glory declared among all nations, continuing to manifest His glory to a dark world (Eph 3:10)—until He personally returns to the earth to extend His kingdom and His glory throughout the whole earth (Psalm 2; Rev 19).
Based on the statement above, missions organization must seek to glorify God by serving His people and enabling them to spread the Gospel to the whole world. Missionary agencies should place the calling of God in the life of the missionary before their organizational preferences. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We all hear stories about serious conflicts between the missionary and the agency over methodology and bureaucracy, and many of these stories sadly ended up causing people to abandon their ministry and return home.
It is vital to your ministry to find a missionary agency that is biblically-based and committed to operating from a place of what is needed by the people in the harvest fields that the missionaries are called to serve, instead of the other way around. And this calling MUST focus on God’s philosophy in missions, which not only establishes the specific mandate for missions (Matt 28:20) but that it also provides the general method for how that mandate is to be accomplished. This methodology is to be God-glorifying, Christ-centered, field-driven.
The third main consideration in choosing the right missionary agency involves church affiliation. If you are a missionary supported by a specific church denomination and are in search of an organization with whom to partner, make sure that your church does not object to your affiliation with an organization outside the denomination. Most agencies are not affiliated with a specific church denomination because they want to be able to serve any missionary that needs their help—regardless of denomination. If you are a missionary supported by a denominational church, we recommend asking your church leadership if partnering with a mission-minded, evangelical, theologically-sound organization to help with donor and fund-processing logistics is okay with them. If your church leadership is not sure, you can even go a step further and facilitate a phone conference or online meeting with yourself, your church leadership, and the organization so any concerns can be addressed and hopefully—alleviated. The best part about working with a Christ-centered agency is that it takes a load off of your church in handling and processing your donor funds. Sometimes a little education on the many benefits a missionary service agency brings to the table is all it takes to come into agreement.
At Mission Quest, we believe in the leadership and role of the local church in the mission. We believe that the local church should be the sending entity for missionaries. This has always been the norm in the New Testament church; (read more about the role of the local church in missions). We honor this biblical model by providing missionaries and churches with a platform to facilitate the process of sending missionaries into the field without compromising the biblical principle of the leadership of the local/sending church or the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The fourth and final primary consideration in choosing the best missions organization is to find out whether they allow for growth and redirection in your missionary calling, even if you are called to an entirely new mission in another location (or two or three) over the years. It is God who calls the missionary—not the pastor, not the outreach director, not the congregation—and not even the missionary themselves. It is only God who initiates and confirms your calling, according to the good works in Christ Jesus that He prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10). And because your calling originates with the Lord, He can grow it, modify it or completely change it—according to His plans and purposes for your missional life. There is nothing more tragic than to see missionaries trapped in a place and a work that the Lord wants to move them beyond and out of, but they are not able to because their missionary service agency is not open to the Holy Spirit’s leading in the life of the missionary. Over the years, we have seen missionaries lose heart and abandon the mission field because of the bureaucracy of some agencies that suffocate their vision and prevent them from following the Holy Spirit. At Mission Quest®, we do not want you to become another missionary dropout statistic; we want you to follow God, knowing that we’ve got your back!
If you have any questions about what it means to partner with a missionary service agency or how our home office can help you, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. We are here to serve you!
Mission Quest is the home office for many missionaries around the world; missionaries who trust us with their livelihood and their relationships with their donors. Our high financial accountability standards and financial transparency have been acknowledged and accredited by multiple third-party organizations such as the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and GuideStar. This means that your donors can trust us in handling their donations ethically, reliably, and with the highest level of integrity; and you can have peace of mind knowing your donors are in good hands.