It is time to rethink how we hold missionaries our churches support accountable and how we collect that information. What usually happens today is that every church has their own forms that need to be filled out annually creating significant extra and unnecessary work for mission personnel.
I recently had a senior ReachGlobal leader mention that he was working on an eight page evaluation from one of the churches that supports him. Now consider doing the same for the other nine major supporting churches and you get an idea of what it looks like to satisfy the needs of multiple churches.
Many of the accountability paradigms for missionaries grew up in a day when they worked relatively alone and had little direct supervision from their mission organization. Today for most organizations it looks very different. All personnel, for instance in ReachGlobal operate with annual Key Result Areas, an Annual Ministry Plan that is connected to the team that they work with. In addition, they have a monthly mentoring/coaching meeting with their supervisor and an annual review.
In ReachGobal, for instance, there is actually a higher level of both empowerment and accountability than is found in staffs of many churches. A best practice for mission committees is to find out what the reporting structure is for the mission their missionaries work for and coordinate the information they ask for with what the mission requires so that there are not unnecessary redundancies in reporting that a staff member needs to do.
If mission committees asked for three things – the job description, the annual plan and what was accomplished on that plan they would have a great deal of information. And, it would cut down on the duplication of systems that missionaries must satisfy for multiple churches that support them.
The additional complication with generic forms to be filled out is that it does not take into account the actual job of individual missionaries. The three pieces of information above are what we use to evaluate a staff member so if a church asked for the same three pieces of information it would have more relevant information than they often get without requiring their missionary to do extra and unnecessary work.