How Can a Church Keep its Missionaries Accountable? Part 2
Theology Matters! The way we view God impacts the way we view missions and our role in it. Making sure that missionaries align in their theology with the theology of the sending church and the theology of the local church is a major factor all churches require to investigate before sending someone to the mission field. The church should be sure that the missionary has a clear understanding of the basic tenets of Christianity and to keep him growing in his knowledge of the Bible. Often people assume that missions in about obedience, not theology, but while we affirm the importance of obedience in the life of Christians, we can’t be obedient without understanding the full counsel of God and His purpose in this world. The church should have a statement of faith that all its missionaries agree with her on it. Failing in teaching, living or promoting any of the major parts of this statement of faith, should raise red flags for the church.
Before sending or supporting a missionary, the church should have a clear understanding of the nature of this missionary’s ministry and the way he is conducting his work. If the missionary’s vision and ministry agree with the biblical principles and with the vision of the church, the church should communicate to the missionary its expectations regarding reporting, visitations, and life. Communicating your expectations to your missionary helps in establishing a level of honesty that will guide the missionary during their journey and will encourage them to keep the communication channels open with their churches.
When Jesus told his disciples to “teach all nations,” He didn’t dictate any methodology to accomplish the work but left it largely to His disciples. As His followers, He also admonished the same to us. However, to get the job completed, money needs to be spent wisely. Unfortunately, with having money, it comes to the temptation of misusing money, and giving someone absolute power might be the path for absolute corruption.
Often, churches and individuals feel awkwardly discussing finances, for missionaries they feel that they are begging and for churches they feel over protecting of this funds. In reality, money is important to do missions, and discussing finances should be one of the first things missionaries and churches need to discuss. The problem is not in money, but rather in misusing money.
To avoid the awkwardness of the financial talks, missionaries need to come prepared with a clear understanding of their needs and a detailed breakdown of the total amount needed. Having needs should not create any embarrassment to the missionary, it’s a reality that all missionaries face and churches are expecting you to have. The problem comes when, often because of embarrassment, missionaries tend to hide parts of their needs in order not to look greedy, hiding these needs, even with good intentions, might create questions to the church. On the other hand, we know that not all missions fields are the same; some are very expensive countries (e.g., the Beijing; Dubai; London…etc) and with such expensive countries missionaries need more funds. Churches are not always aware of the fi ts missionaries are moving into and of all the financial needs involved, therefore, it is better to give your church a clear understanding of how expensive living in a specific field is and don’t be hesitant to share all your financial needs. We know that anyone in the mission field he is not in the business of making money, but rather he is giving everything for the sake of Christ and expanding His kingdom.
The church also has to have a detailed financial policy and control of funds may be implemented. Contributions shall be receipted and recorded. All donations obtained for the missionary support or approved project must also be used as designated funds.
What Churches Should Know?
Clarify to missionaries what you’ll consider success. It is understandable that missionaries get frustrated when the church demand accountability from them but don’t really articulate any standards. Thus, you need to make it clear how you define success. Help them understand when they are adequately meeting your expectations.
Churches must understand that a missionary will be far more comfortable being honest regarding his inadequacies if he knows that your main goal is to help him succeed in his endeavors. It is important to build an atmosphere of accountability that focuses on the improvement of the missionary’s ministry ability and skills.