Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions.

Welcome back! We are so glad that you’ve joined us.  This is episode 191 of Missions on Point. 

The Missions on Point Podcast seeks to help restore the local church to its God-given central role in the work of missions.  We want the church to be equipped for that crucially important task of raising up, sending out and caring for missionaries.  That is not always the case though as missionaries sometimes go it alone in some respects and the missions sending agencies unfortunately tend to enable them to do that.  But, if you are a missionary with a healthy sending church that is actively engaged in your mission and your life, then you are the envy of most missionaries. 

If you have been tracking with us recently, you know that we are in the middle of a series of episodes focusing on church partnerships.  While you may be just jumping into this series today because of the practical help you can find in this one episode, you might want to consider revisiting the rest of this series to get an overview of the thinking behind today’s topic.  Our previous episodes have defined church partnerships as a biblical goal for missions, because churches were not meant to think of themselves as islands doing everything on their own.  We might think here of two opposite pitfalls for the church to avoid.  On the one hand, we don’t want to be disengaged from missions, relegating that work to the missionary and the agency.  But on the other hand, we don’t want to operate independently of partnership with others either.  We need each other.  We need help, and we can provide help to others too.  Churches need other churches, and an attitude of humility and service to others is the basis of healthy church partnerships.  And so, in our previous episodes we’ve talked about how having a view toward church partnership is beneficial from the perspective of the missionary, the church and the missions sending agency.  Be sure to stay tuned in next week for a look at some encouraging trends in church partnerships.  But before we get there, as we’ve said already, we have come to a crucial and very practical point in our thinking. 

Here we have three different interested parties when it comes to missions.  We have the church, the missionary and the missions sending agency.  And it should be well established by now that the Bible places the burden of responsibility in missions squarely on the shoulders of the church.  Yet, the question remains, how do we practically work this out?  How does the church take its rightful place in the drivers seat of missions?  And with the church’s role clearly defined, what role does the missionary and the missions sending agency then play in this mutual venture? 

To change the analogy briefly, it’s kind of like a three-legged race.  We are all tied together.  And what’s it going to take for us to accomplish the mission together?  Our coordination is highly dependent on good communication with each other.  We need to be in step with each other, and we need to know what to expect from each other at every turn of the race. 

The natural inertia here runs counter to the biblical conviction of church-centered missions ministry.  Someone might say, “We’ve never done it that way before and it’s too hard to change.”  Missions agencies might be hesitant to commit to turning the ship around because of the effort and communication required for such an institutional change.  The thought of near-term decline in statistics, fundraising and recruitment are perceived threats.  But here’s the deal.  Returning to that first analogy, if churches step up and take hold of that steering wheel of the mission ministry, and if they do that while remaining gracious and welcoming to the missions agency, inviting them into the car to help them with navigation and awareness, this is a relationship that can be beautiful and God-glorifying. 

So how is this going to work out?  How do the church, the missionary and the missions agency cooperate well together?  The first answer to this question is that this will necessarily look different in every situation, because the needs are different, churches are different and have different levels of skill in handling various dimensions of missions.  This requires missions agencies to remain flexible as they defer to the needs of the church, and it requires churches to be on the lookout for how different missions agencies may be more equipped to meet the needs of their specific strategic vision for missions. 

But beyond that initial caveat, here’s our number one piece of advice to accomplish this partnership – put into writing an official partnership agreement between the church and the missions agency, and perhaps include the missionary as a third signatory to that agreement.  It’s primarily an agreement between the church and the agency.  But the missionary also has certain expectations that they need to agree to for this relationship to work out.  And getting this written down on paper will go a long way to safeguarding the relationship from mission drift over the years.

So, what does a church partnership agreement look like?  The purpose of this commitment as we’ve already said is to establish the expectations for the church, the agency and the missionary for their respective responsibilities.  Let’s consider them one at a time and enumerate each of those three sets of commitments.  Keep in mind though that these are merely suggestions.  Your church can adapt these as you see fit.  I’ll give you the commitments that MissioSERVE Alliance initially suggests, but remember that they are amendable and adaptable.  And to help you avoid potential hand cramping as you try to feverishly write down every item in these long lists, I’ll remind you that you can find an audio transcript of this podcast on our website under the resources tab.  This church partnership agreement is also available as a downloadable document on

Here we go.  First, for the missions agency.  The missions agency agrees to:

  1. come alongside the church to coach, teach, train, and otherwise enable the church to become an excellent sending church for their missionary
  2. provide training for the missionary or recommend and refer training to the church and their missionary to fulfill pre-field, field, and ongoing training requirements for that field and ministry
  3. inform the church about the scope and extent of training recommended for the church to prepare their missionary for the field
  4. provide a suite of financial services and systems supporting practical guidance for fundraising, donor records and receipting, field expenses and salary, HR benefits such as insurance and retirement, field salary and allowances for the missionary
  5. respect and defend the role of the church, the sending and commissioning church, as having primary authority in the mission and in the life, guidance, and shepherding of their missionary
  6. consult the church in all major decisions affecting their missionary and ministry on the field
  7. facilitate field relationships and networking in alignment with ministry goals
  8. provide normal field supervision including, but not limited to: language proficiencies, 360-degree evaluation, ministry guidance, allocation and housing counsel, care and shepherding, family services, crisis management planning, personal counsel, visa and immigration assistance, children's schooling advice, security management, and monitoring of ministry goals
  9. although the agency has organizational responsibility over the missionary's membership status with the agency, the agency acknowledges the church’s authority in shepherding the emotional, physical, and spiritual care of their missionary
  10. communicate with the church representative or partnership coordinator regarding any news of concerns with their missionary

Next, here are the suggested commitments for the church.  The church agrees to:

  1. learn and grow in excellence as a sending church
  2. faithfully disciple our missionary candidate in a personalized program of pre-field preparation and training in all areas of character, conviction, and competence fitting to our mutually chosen field ministry
  3. validate and confirm the candidate's readiness for the field in character, convictions, and competencies, according to the requirements of the agency
  4. take primary responsibility for supplying and helping our missionary raise funds necessary for pre-field and on-field missionary training, our own coaching and readiness as a sending church engaging the services of the agency, outgoing expenses, language training, and ongoing regular support
  5. commit to primary responsibility for the care and shepherding of our missionary (and missionary family), in partnership with the agency
  6. communicate with and pray for every aspect of life and ministry of our missionary
  7. plan and implement field visits on a frequency appropriate to the stage of ministry, critical points of need or of accomplishment, and according to the current environment on the field and ability to enter and exit the field of service, with the counsel of the agency
  8. appoint and establish a personal accountability partner (or mentor) within the church as well as standards for ongoing support, as may be needed in:
    1. moral, logistics, financial support
    2. prayer, communication, re-entry support
    3. children's education, security and contingency, technology, and field visits coordination
  9. keep our missionary accountable with respect to:
    1. upholding the agency standards of conduct
    2. priority of gaining language proficiency and cultural adaptation
    3. regular communication with church leadership, the agency, and supporters
  10. transparency and timeliness of reporting any issues affecting work and life on the field to the agency
  11. communicate with the agency representative or partnership coordinator regarding any news of concerns with our missionary

And lastly, here are some proposed commitments for the missionary.  The missionary agrees to:

  1. adhere to the doctrinal agreement of the church and the agency and report any variation of this
  2. be consistent with my daily spiritual disciplines and spiritual health
  3. strive to maintain a proper balance of ministry and personal life
  4. maintain standards of moral purity and Christian reputation without reproach as interpreted by the church and report any variation of this
  5. commit to seek help from the church and the agency when struggling
  6. commit to open and transparent communication on a regular basis, according to the accountability and communication standards set by the church
  7. conduct and advance the ministry in a manner consistent with the theology, philosophy, strategy, values, goals, and objectives of the church and of the agency
  8. comply with the policies of the agency with a good attitude
  9. track and report ministry expenses in a timely and accurate manner, as per the agency policy
  10. consistently communicate ministry vision and progress to my supporting constituency
  11. initiate resolution, repentance, and reconciliation with others as needed
  12. seek to be open and transparent about any area of my life, willing to share anything significant in my life and ministry with my church accountability partner/mentor or the agency without hesitation or specific request
  13. cooperate with the agency debriefing policy upon reentry for each Home Assignment

And there we have it.  3 sets of commitments: for the agency, the church and the missionary.  Again, I will say, adjustments can be made to any of the commitments in these lists. 

Now, beyond these specific commitments, it’s important to have one more section to your partnership agreement, and that is a description of how to resolve disagreements.  In an ideal world, everyone gets along.  But we’re sinners, and conflict is almost inevitable.  Mature Christianity does not mean you won’t have conflicts, but it does mean that you will patiently and humbly work to resolve those conflicts.  We need to identify people who will monitor the agreement with regular evaluations.  And when necessary a mediator can intervene to help resolve conflicts. 

In summary, the intent of a partnership agreement is to clearly communicate what each party is committed to doing, holding everyone accountable to high standards in order to maintain the right priorities.  Without such commitments we drift from the target, compromising the effectiveness of the mission. 

The glory of God is worth it.  The long-lasting preservation of excellence in the mission is worth it.  And the building up of the body of Christ, both at home and abroad, makes putting these things in writing worth it. 

Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point. We trust that you'll find more help and resources on our websites at and We are so thankful for those who support us, enabling us to produce this podcast. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.

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