You believe that God is calling you to serve in missions, but you need to find an agency with which to affiliate. Where do you begin? As you start searching, you find there are a myriad of different mission agencies from which to choose. How can you decide? The questions below might help you narrow your search.
Questions to help you pick an agency
- Does the agency have a passion for reaching the lost that is similar in scope to yours? Do you already know a contact person with whom you could have a preliminary visit?
- What is your work experience? In what way does the agency you’re considering provide resources for that work? For example, if you are a teacher, but the agency specializes in church planting, will you feel fully supported in your work? Does the agency provide resources, training or conference support in your area of expertise?
- Do you have a heart for a particular location of the world? If so, does the agency you’re considering have established or beginning work in that area? For example, if you’re interested in working with an inner city trafficking problem, do they primarily focus on rural/third world populations?
- What history does the agency have in providing support (counseling, financial guidance, work encouragement, conferences) for their missionaries?
- What happens if your support suddenly drops due to the death of a couple major supporters? Will you have enough money to stay or will you have enough money to return home? Are there provisions to help you with that kind of emergency?
- What kind of financial base would you consider as you raise support? Is the agency you’re considering specific to your denomination only? Will that limit your financial support opportunities?
- What percentage of your required support is necessary before heading to the field? Is it 80%, 90% or 100%? If the percentage is too low, might you find yourself doing your mission work while also feverishly trying to write support-raising letters?
- Does your church mission philosophy match better with some agencies than others? None of these philosophies are necessarily wrong, but it is best to work in unity since your home church will likely be a major supporter and encourager. Does your church prefer some agencies over others?
- Does the agency send their missionaries out alone or do they make sure that there is at least one other person who will help you find your way in your new environment?
- How often do they require that you take a furlough? What do they expect you to do during that furlough?
- What provisions does the agency have for supporting you during times of furlough? Do they provide (or even better) require de-briefing opportunities either in person or through other electronic means?
- If you are a couple, what work hour requirements are established for husband and wife? What if you have children? Are the expectations different if you have children?·
- Does the agency you’re considering have emergency evacuation plans in the event of an unexpected tragedy?
In the end, the decision will come through lots of prayer, reading and searching. God will direct you in the direction He wants you to go. Just keep knocking and asking!