Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and missions. Welcome to episode 101 of Missions on Point. Thank you so much for joining us. We're in the last, number 14 of 14 on church-based missionary training. This series has been great. We've walked step-by-step through the process of identifying potential missionary candidates, through the training process and sending them and having a framework for shepherding them on the field. And developing right expectations about that whole relational accountability aspect. This episode will deal with the partnership with the mission sending agency, the Church's partnership with the mission sending agency in very practical ways. We have already addressed this concept in principles in a framework for a partnership agreement of the local sending church with the mission sending agencies way back in episode seven, but also walked through it in more detail in episode 87. So you might want to go back and listen to those.

Before we dive in today, I just want to say, please comment or send an email with any questions or concerns or ways in which Missions on Point has blessed you and your church. You can email us at That's, and here's a heads-up. I want to invite you to help me decide what issues and concerns need to be addressed on Missions on Point. So write me at and give me ideas or questions or issues that you would like to see addressed. I've got a lineup of things ahead of me, but I am absolutely willing to take your suggestions and incorporate those into the lineup coming through the rest of the year. The next series coming up is a really interesting one. It's on contemporary issues in missions. Certainly, I hope it makes you think. I hope it'll teach you to be more discerning about issues and missions. But it might even make you angry, not because we talked about it, but because these kinds of issues exist at all.

So subscribe or follow so you don't miss an episode today. Let's talk about partnership with the mission sending agency. We've already talked about this in those other two episodes of Missions on Point, episode number seven and 87. However, I want to talk about practical application and implementation of the partnership agreement. So just to review a smidge, I maintain that every sending church should have a written letter of understanding or partnership agreement written out and signed by both the Church leaders, the missionary, and the mission sending agency before the missionary actually goes to the field. Preferably before they even go to candidate school and sign the papers to join the mission. One of the main reasons is because mission sending agencies as registered charitable organizations, have an oversensitivity to their legal rights and the scope of their responsibility for the missionaries that function as employees of the mission.

While there are appropriate concerns about confidentiality of personnel information and internal operations, the fact that mission sending agencies are resistant to having a partnership agreement that gives more authority and role to the local church than they are used to, doesn't mean that they shouldn't have this kind of relationship. It is a healthy partnership. In fact, mission agencies very routinely allow other kinds of partnerships in their business to have extreme knowledge of all kinds of internal and personal confidential type of information on their staff and missionaries. They often have external organizations that supply services like finances and accounting or investment. Or in the area of human resource benefits like insurance, retirement funds, et cetera. They way too often employ the services of professional psychologists or psychiatrists in screening candidates. My point is that they routinely have partnerships with external people or organizations for the benefit of their missionaries and the flow of their business.

There is no reason why they can't also extend a similar kind of partnership with regard to shepherding and care and facilitation and accountability of their missionary on the field. It is a huge help and asset to the Mission sending agency to do so, but here is where some problems get generated. Mission sending agencies are not used to doing this kind of thing. They're really not used to elevating the role and centrality of the local church in the whole process. Even though biblically I maintain they should. And if they haven't done so for decades and decades, some mission agencies for a century, then they naturally have a reluctance or a suspicion about the intentions, the purposes, and the actual effectiveness of local church being involved with their missionary. Those concerns are actually right. I get it. Most local churches haven't prepared themselves to be a valuable partner in their role with the missionary.

Therefore, they come with an absence of experience and skills to do it. That still doesn't mean that they shouldn't try and grow in the experience and skills needed to do a good job of being a solid partner for the mission agency with their missionary. So time and time again, I see and experience that mission agencies have a very small minority of their missionaries on the field that have this kind of partnership relationship of their sending church with the agency. Churches likewise have good reason to fear that they may be excluded from the process, the shepherding, the personnel concerns, the accountability of their missionary on the field when the mission agency cuts them out. Therefore, they have to be very selective about the field and the team and the environment in which their missionary works. They have to get the mission agency to work with them to place and allocate their missionary in a place that makes sense and allows them this greater freedom of access.

Assuming the best, the Church has a good partnership agreement with the sending agency. The sending agency needs to be held accountable to live up to the partnership, that is to actually allow it. Sometimes missionaries and leaders on the field are not aware of everything that's been going on in conversation with and even agreement with the home office of the mission agency. Therefore, they are less likely to honor that agreement when the missionary gets to the field. Now, church leaders be careful here because it's pretty easy to say, yes, we have a written agreement. Therefore, we ought to be able to visit our missionary on the field and speak into his life, even down to methodologies, strategies and goals for their ministry. As well as assist in shepherding in such a way as to make them more effective and long-term committed to the work on the field. However, churches tend to take the side of the missionary on all issues. They are after all, their church members, their people. Churches are pretty poor about listening to the other side or soliciting information from the other side.

So the missionary may actually be acting rather poorly on the field or have a pattern of sinfulness that the Church needs to recognize and agree with if the evidence supports it. Many times I've seen a church enter into a situation because the missionary raises a call for help. They zoom out to the field with very little knowledge and no other information from the other side, listen to one side of the story and own it, and then more or less come in with guns blazing to fix it on behalf of their missionary. Even though their missionary may be the primary instigator of whatever the problem is. That kind of interference has destroyed teams, separated missionaries, and ultimately usually ends up in the missionary in question, leaving that mission or at least leaving that field. Humanly speaking, it's just not good leadership, good shepherding, and it's not healthy for ministry on the field. Here's some tips on how to avoid those kinds of problems.

First of all, a designated person by the Church, a missions' leader in some role, whether he's an elder, a pastor, a missions pastor, or someone who is a good representative of the missions team, the missions' committee. That person needs to know everything about the line of accountability within the mission up and down from the missionary to the highest level. If possible, they need to be on a first name basis with the people who are most concerned. And in a lot of missions that would be the team or the station leader, then the field leader, at least. There may be a bigger regional leader that isn't resident even in the same country, but has regular responsibility for accountability of those people on a personnel basis, on behalf of the mission. If the mission has a designated counselor or pastoral care kind of person for member care in the home office, they need to know that person. Because it's most likely the member care people to whom the missionary reports in a debriefing cycle when they come back for a home assignment visit.

If the Church has assigned partnership agreement as I recommend, then they should have access to all the personnel files, including reviews, evaluations, medical history, including all the things having to do with their life on the field. Whatever's in the personnel file, a designated person from the Church should be able to see that file to really know what's going on. If the partnership relationship is a good one, probably the people in the mission recognize that and honor that, and automatically send those kinds of documents, at least in digital form, over to the representative from the Church who then brings it perhaps if needed to a little bit wider circle of leadership. It doesn't mean that everybody in the Church knows everything about the missionary and what's in their personnel file. It is a limited scope for the purposes of the Church in that missionary's life. When there is a field visit, there needs to be enough courtesy to let all those in that immediate chain of command, one or two or three leaders, know that you're coming to visit. And it should be special for them as well.

You need to have a time when you're talking with the leader or supervisor about your missionary, what's going on in their life, get their point of view and interact with them on that. But it doesn't hurt to bring along some gifts from the US to thank them for the contribution that they make in your missionary's life. There are other ways as well that the visiting pastor or representative responsible for that missionary and their shepherding care on the field, can help in the relationships of the missionary by getting to know their teammates' ministry to them in some way. Whether it's through private conversation and council, encouragement. Whether it's gathering the team together and taking them out for a special dinner or a treat or doing something special for their families. Let them know that you care about them too and that they are a part of your missionary's life on a day-to-day basis and should be honored as such.

It is helpful to establish a regular means of communication. Certainly, the partnership agreement needs to be reviewed on an annual basis so that everyone kind of checks up on and sees that it's working and it's valuable and significant. But also have a Skype call or a Zoom call, or at least some kind of email exchange with those leaders who have responsibility for your missionary on the field, so that you continue to have this name recognition. People in those positions change over time, and if your missionary is going to be on the field for many years, especially doing church planting in hard places, then you need to know who their leaders are, who their representatives of the mission are, all the way up and down the chain of command. So that they know you, you know them, and you're just having a normal, natural sort of chat about what's going on.

That way, when there are problems that arise, if they do, then you automatically have a great platform of relationship for working it through and dealing with it. So visit the leaders on the field if you can, and continue to maintain that relationship because it is very significant and important for your missionary. So the concept of a partnership agreement with the mission sending agency is very significant, but it's more than just paper. It is relationships. It is time. It is effort to build a strong platform of relationships so that if and when problems come, you have an automatic, easy relational platform for going there, hearing both sides of the story, learning about the situation. And trying to resolve matters in a healthy, biblical way. This whole series on church-based missionary training is core to the values in my heart.

I hope you catch that. I hope that you are able to influence your church to work toward developing missionaries from your church and sending them to strategic fields around the world. Please tune in to the next series on contemporary issues in missions. Send me your questions or concerns through email at Please send me your ideas for further episodes of Missions on Point. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on Church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever, amen.

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