The question of who a church should support as missionaries is always a critical one for a local church. Often, the selection of missionaries is far less rigorous than the selection of church staff. It can be based on emotion, on sole fact that the individual grew up in your church or all too often it is simply a relative of someone in the church and they press for the church to support their family member. None of these are good reasons in themselves to take precious ministry resources and spend them.
One local church I know has been working on a grid to use in their evaluation of who to support. I want to share this with you because it indicates the kind of thinking that should go into such a decision. They have six factors which they consider.
Probability of success:
To what extent do they have a proven track record in the venture they are seeking support for? How does their past track record inform the probability of future success? Are they in a proven sweet spot for them?
Since our goal is to provide more than money, to what extent are they known and embraced by the broad membership and those regularly attending our church? How long and to what extent have they been a part of our body? This will be a reflection of the amount of prayer, relational and emotional support by the entire body. And the more the GO team supports people that have broad support the more the body will become invested in and value the GO programs. And it will be an indication of their ability to gather support from others in the body and not just from the church budget. Although it may seem counter intuitive, the more we believe they can gather support from the body, the greater the support they will have from the church budget - within limits of course.
Alignment with our church’s mission
To what extent is the venture to which they are seeking support in alignment with the mission of our church? To what extent is their venture, mission critical to the mission or objectives of our church? By supporting their mission, to what extent will this help us to fulfill our mission?
Who is their sending agency?
To what extent do we know the practices and health of the sending agency? Who they go out with has a big impact on their oversight and management support which greatly impacts their success and whether they will burn out. All agencies are not created equal. The permissive and liberal practices of some agencies, although initially attractive to missionaries on intake, can result in their failure on the field.
Proven character, relational health & high emotional intelligence.
To what extent do we know about their proven, godly character? How have they demonstrated relational health and responsiveness to authority? How high is their EQ? Since the number one failure of missionaries on the field is relational conflicts with others, what do we know about this area of their lives?
Probable Strategic Impact
Not all missionary ventures have equal strategic impact in the kingdom. Some will often have more impact than others. Some ventures will have more kingdom impact than others. This is not an issue of faithfulness but of broad significant impact. To what extent will the venture have broad significant Kingdom impact?