Each church has a unique footprint when it comes to Global Mission. As a missions leader it is your quest to find the area of outreach and/or area of the world that compels your church to serve and give. Once identified you will be attracted to areas of the world, particular missionaries, and areas of service that best fit your congregations specific DNA. 

Knowing how to evaluate, be strategic about, and engage in missionary relationship and global partnership opportunities. 

Q1: How do you go about identifying good global partners? 

New missionaries are added to church budgets for many different reasons. Sometimes they grew up at the church, someone from your church participated on a short-term mission trip they led, they are friends of someone at your church, another church referred them to you—there are a variety of avenues that might bring a potential candidate before your church requesting support. Some churches are wide open welcoming anyone to apply for support and some are more strategic. In order to best identify good global partners you may consider the suggestions listed below:

  • Create a support application for the prospective candidate to complete 
  • Ask for references from other churches or mission organizations, and inquire about their work
  • Consider visiting them on a short-term mission trip
  • Do they serve with a reputable mission agency that provides ongoing accountability, training, counseling (if needed), retirement planning and/or do they have a 501c3 (nonprofit)? 

Spend time with your mission team thinking through criteria for potential candidates. What area of mission ministry fits best (church planting, Bible translation, leadership development, unreached people groups, orphans/widows, human trafficking, poverty alleviation, refugees, evangelism, etc). Consider targeting an area(s) where your church would like to invest. Three organizations may be able to help you once you’ve secured goals: The Outreach Foundation, The Antioch Partners and/or Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship.  

Sample Support & Partnership Selection/Evaluation from First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs

Sample letter to Missionary inquiring about Support 

Q2: Is it better to work with a missions organization to send missionaries abroad, or to just send them as a church/ourselves? 

Churches should send financial support for missionaries to their sending mission organization unless they have set up their own 501c3. For more information on church charitable giving read, The Guide to Charitable Giving for Churches and Ministries by Dan Busby. 

Q3: How important is it to have accountability and/or a reporting system from those to whom we give financial support?

Supporting a missionary is an investment of your church and its covenant partners. Accountability should be one of the measures in which to best manage this investment. Consider creating an annual questionnaire (see samples) for the missionary to complete. Ask questions about their goals, their ministry accomplishments, etc. You may wish to use the samples as a template to create your own. Require visits from your missionaries periodically and provide opportunities for them to connect with the congregation. If you are a larger church you could assign missions teams to be the contact group, liaison for one or more missionaries reporting to church staff about upcoming visits, needs and prayer requests. The sending agency could also be an accountability resource. 

Sample Information & Guidelines for Supported Missionaries from First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs 

Q4: How do we figure out the level of support for a missionary? Should this be different for missionaries serving abroad vs. in the US? 

When considering a new missionary candidate, request their budget when/if you send them their annual questionnaire. Find out what portion of their budget is met. Who set their budget (their sending organization or themselves)? Some churches set up a scale; a single missionary receives $__, a couple $__, with children $__, etc. If they are serving in the US and a spouse is employed, you may not wish to give them as much as a couple serving in a remote area abroad. 

Another option is to promise a portion of their overall budget. Most churches will only commit to a portion of the missionary’s overall budget. The rationale is that the missionary is actively engaging with other churches and that if your church suddenly faces a huge financial catastrophe, and can’t send funds, the missionary has other resources. 

Q5: What are good measurements for success of a missionary? 

You can evaluate their success through some or all of the means listed below:

  • Personal newsletters
  • Annual questionnaire
  • Personal emails and phone calls. Consider having a Skype call with your missions team.
  • Ongoing relationship with the missionary 
  • Having them visit your church
  • Visiting them on the mission field (maybe take a small team on a short-term mission trip to spend time with them and/or assist in their ministry)
  • Ask their sending agency

Trinity Annual Questionnaire

Q6: God’s work is so broad and creative. How does my congregation decide what we do and do not support? 

Refer to Q1. Lead your mission team to set goals and parameters. Consider locations, types of ministry, where you feel called. If this is a daunting task see if you can recruit another mission leader to take you through a goal setting strategy process. Ask questions such as: 

  • Where do we see the most interest from your congregation? 
  • Should we insure that our next missionary has the ability to host a short-term mission team project? 
  • What areas of the world do we feel particularly called to serve? 
  • What global issues are church members most passionate about? 
  • Has this person grown up at our church and we’ve watched their mission call develop? 

Mission Priorities 1st Pres

Let’s say a church felt called to the continent of Africa solely, a place where they had already established significant partnerships. Their mission team decided to invest in any country in Africa. They also chose areas of missions ministry such as Bible translation and poverty alleviation. If a new prospect requested support but they serve in Papua New Guinea, they would not fit within the church’s parameters. In this way you are creating a grid in which to add only those in the areas your church feels specifically called. 

Q7: What is the difference between financial partnership and relationship-based partnership? 

Different churches have different types of partnerships with missionaries and agencies abroad. Establish the type partnership from the beginning. Your partnership can include prayer exchanges, visits, short-term mission trips and a mutual exchange of personal support for each other. If your partner serves in a needy country they may not have the resources to visit you so the partnership may require visits from your church to their church. 

Q8: What are good ways to say no to requests for financial support? 

Consider developing a letter that you can personalize for the applicant kindly stating that they are not a candidate at this time. If you have more of a personal relationship with the individual, if you’ve met with them to hear about their work, consider meeting with them or calling them to explain why they are ineligible for support.  

Most church’s mission budgets are tight, and they need to be discerning when adding new missionaries to their already stretched budget. Even if you decide not to support a missionary, you have an opportunity to hear about their ministry, validate their work and pray for them. Missionaries need more than money: they need encouragement, compassion and prayer, and sometimes a listening ear. Support-raising for them can be a daunting task that they must embrace in addition to their ministry. Do not pass up an opportunity to be a blessing by ministering to a missionary in this way—even if you are unable to support them.