Expectations are important from the beginning. Your missionaries need to know what is expected of them with respect to accountability. The day-to-day activities of their ministry on the field will be accountable primarily to their team and/or field leadership. If you are the sending church, it is appropriate for you to request your sent missionary to release or allow the release of any quarterly, annual, or term field evaluations and reports to your church missions leadership. It is important to assure all parties involved of the church’s trustworthiness with respect to how such reports and evaluations might be used and limiting the circle of information to appropriate church leaders.
Several Propempo resources in the Library section of Propempo.com relate to this topic. Samples of Annual Information Reports and similar missionary questionnaires will be posted there or connected to case studies in Propempo.com’s Community section.
What kind of questions are appropriate for your local church to ask? Below is a list of suggested categories.
- health issues
- marriage and family issues
- personal holiness, growth in sanctification, moral purity
- behavior and adjustment of their children
- financial needs
- spiritual nurture and/or concerns
- living conditions
- quality, availability, and status or transportation
- progress in language and culture learning
- development of relationships with nationals (and/or national believers)
- quarterly or annual goals
- achievement or status of past quarterly or annual goals
- "Blue Sky" vision or prayer requests (e.g.- "if only we had...", or "if only such and such happened...", or "if God gave us unlimited resources we would...")
In these days of virtually ubiquitous access to e-mail and the Internet, this kind of communication and interaction should be normal. Though, remember that your missionaries live a very full life. Often they feel on call 24-7. Sometimes they may be traveling or in the midst of a multi-day or multi week event which takes them out of the loop of normal communication. So they need grace for a long lead time to complete your questionnaire. Don’t expect to send it out one day and receive all the replies from all your missionaries back the next day, like you might from someone locally within your church body. Your procrastination (this is purely hypothetical) does not automatically create a crisis on their part to answer on your rushed timetable.
Three notes regarding the implementation of accountability questionnaires for your missionaries:
Missionaries, typically, are not eager to receive and spend the time necessary to complete lengthy, detailed questionnaires for accountability. There are two things that can make the process easier for you and for them: 1/ Don’t make them answer items to which you should already know the answer (e.g. – birthdays, allocation of service and type of ministry, field address), unless there has been some change in their basic information; and, 2/ Allow them to copy your church in the answers they have already produced for some other church’s questionnaire.
Make sure that the missionaries who receive your questionnaires understand that your intent is for their good. Answers they give should be intended to improve relationship, prayer support, and shepherding. They should not normally be used as a qualifying litmus test for financial support.
The depth and intimacy of questions asked is based on your track record of depth and intimacy of relationship. It is patently unfair to ask pointed questions about the couple’s marriage relationship if you have not already built a foundation of trusting relationship from which to pose the question. On the other hand, if you have already proven to be a caring, shepherding leadership to them, it is perfectly appropriate for you to inquire about the status and quality of their relationships with each other, with the Lord, with their team, and with their local community.