How To Choose A Missionary Service Agency
The number of people groups that are still unreached and unengaged with the Gospel message continues to play a significant role in mobilizing missionaries to different parts of the world, especially the 10/40 window. Additionally, advancements in transportation and information technologies over the last few decades have enabled and encouraged more missionaries than ever before to move to the field and still stay in touch with their supporters.
With this significant increase in the mobilization of missionaries, there is a greater number of missionary organizations that want to help and support these missionaries and be a part of God’s work. Both sending organizations and missionary service agencies are coming together to facilitate the ministry of these missionaries and make God’s name known among the nations (Malachi 1:11).
In a previous article, we addressed the question regarding choosing a missionary agency. This article is more focused on those who desire to be supported by a missionary service agency that handles their donor donations and helps manage donor communications; rather than a traditional sending organization that focuses mostly on training men and women on cross-cultural issues.
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How To Choose A Missionary Service Agen
What is a missionary service agency?
A missionary service agency is an organization that serves alongside the local church in mobilizing missionaries worldwide. Unlike traditional missions agencies, a service agency does not replace the local church; rather, it empowers the church to take its biblical role in missions; that is to train, support, and send missionaries.
How To Choose A Missionary Service Agency
Below are four important areas missionaries should always consider when choosing a service agency:
1) Theology 2) Reputation 3) Accreditation 4) Platform
Theology matters! Something that can never be overstated. A missionary who wants to honor God cannot have success in the mission field without proper theology. Theology is a transliteration of two Greek words; (θεός) (theos) which means God and (λόγος) (logos) which means Word or science; both of these make Theology “the study of God.” “Studying God” or Knowing God is a biblical theme that runs throughout both the New and Old Testaments of the Bible.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things, I delight, declares the Lord.’ ”
Galatians 4:8-9 “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
The right theology is an essential element for missionaries and for the mission organizations that support them. So be sure that the service agency you choose holds to an orthodox biblical and historical view of God, the Bible, and missions. After all, theology sets the priority for missions, provides the message for preaching, shapes the practice of missions, and ultimately outlines the message of the Gospel. Start by reading the agency’s Statement of Faith on their website and any other theological literature they have available.
The second important aspect of choosing a missionary agency is to consider its reputation. Is the agency well known? How many missionaries does it serve? What do other missionaries have to say about their experience with the agency? How many years has the organization been processing donations for missionaries?
These are legitimate questions that all missionaries need to consider before choosing a missionary agency. You do not want to end up associating your name with an organization that will cause you and your donors so much damage or will not handle donations and donors’ information properly. At Mission Quest, we take the reputation of our agency VERY seriously. Read what other missionaries are saying about us by clicking here.
Experience reveals that 40% of donors look for an organization’s accreditation before giving; especially its accreditation with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Almost every time a new missionary joins Mission Quest, at least one of the churches supporting him/her reaches out to us asking about our accreditation. This is something churches take seriously. The service agency’s accreditation with third party organizations gives missionaries another layer of assurance that the organization carries itself well and handles God’s money with the highest level of integrity. So before you commit to any organization, do the following:
- Interview missionaries who are with the organization and maybe those who may have left.
- Search online for the organization’s accreditation with ECFA.
- Talk with the organization’s leadership about how they run their organization.
- Ask them what kind of quality control systems they have in place to ensure that funds are handled properly.
All three points above are essential, but point number 4 could well be the most practical point that will affect your donor support and the way an organization processes missionaries’ donations. It is vital that you consider the donations processing platform of the missionary service agency that you want to join. It is helpful to consider the following points:
How secure is their platform? In this day and age, cybersecurity cannot be underestimated. According to the University of Maryland, there is a hacker attack that takes place every 39 seconds, with 64% of companies experiencing at least one cyberattack in their lifetime, leading to more than 150 million dollars of damages every year. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a reliable and secure online giving system. The last thing a missionary needs is for a donor to stop giving because their online credit card information was compromised with their service agency.
How can you be sure that your missionary service agency’s online system is secure? You need to look for these things:
- Are they PCI compliant? PCI compliance is commonly known as the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Since 2006, it is a mandatory standard for all websites wishing to take a card-type payment for anything—no matter how small. Ask the agencies you are considering for their certification of PCI compliance that is less than 12 months old.
- Is their website secured with SSL? Look at the URL of the website. If it begins with “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP”, it means the site is secured using an SSL Certificate (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’). SSL Certificates secure all of your data as it is passed from your browser to the website’s server. To get an SSL certificate, the agency must go through a validation process.
- Is there a Website Application Firewall (WAF)? A WAF or Web Application Firewall helps protect the website by filtering and monitoring HTTP traffic between a website and the Internet. It typically protects websites from cyberattacks.
- The best way to evaluate the security health of a website is by scanning the site using Sucuri free website check tool at https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/
- Missionary agencies should not ignore cybersecurity when it comes to donations processing for missionaries. Check the screenshot below to see how secure and healthy Mission Quest’s website is.
Is it a missionary-focused platform?
What will donors see when they go to support your ministry online? Will the service agency’s website overwhelm them with information about the agency that will distract them from the missionary? What about the giving process? How easy is it? Is it missionary-focused, meaning, during the process of giving, will the organization be begging the donor for money to support other activities besides the ministry of the missionary?
At Mission Quest, we have one of the most robust and enjoyable giving platforms for donors that focus on the missionary. From the time the donor lands on our home page, the main focus is guiding them through a quick and easy process of giving. Each one of our missionaries has its own unique missionary profile page they can customize directly from their personal missionary dashboard. All our missionaries are also listed on a summary page to make it easier for donors to search them by location, name, or account number.
This process makes the donations processing for missionaries effective and efficient to help maintaining a healthy level of support.
How intuitive and automated is the giving platform?
Are the missionary agency’s systems up to date with 21st century standards? Are they automated to avoid any human errors? What happens after the donor gives? When will you, the missionary, be informed of the donation? When will the donor receive a receipt for the donation? These are all important questions to ask when considering which agency you will partner with.
At Mission Quest, we seek to make the donor’s online experience as streamlined, secure, and easy-to-use as possible. Below are the things that occur in the first few moments of a donor giving online to the ministry of one of our missionaries:
- The donor is able to finish the whole giving process in less than 2 minutes.
- Mission Quest’s system will send an email to the donor with a detailed receipt of his donation.
- The missionary will immediately receive a notification email with the donation information.
- Our system will automatically record the donation in our dedicated missionary dashboard, which our missionaries can access 24/7 to see real-time data of their donations, financial situation, export reports, and much more.
Later, if a donor needs another copy of their giving receipt, they can generate it via their donor dashboard on our website or their missionary can send them a copy from their missionary dashboard…or Mission Quest’s home office can send one as well.
Start the conversation with us today to see how Mission Quest can help your ministry grow and impact more people.