Choosing the right missions agency partner is one of the most important decisions you can make as your candidate prepares for the field. There are lots of factors involved in choosing the best one. Your church and church missions leadership will want to carefully and prayerfully research several agencies to determine which one provides the best alignment with your church beliefs and goals and missions. Your choice of commitment to a missions agency partner will then put your candidate through the grid of preparation and requirements of that mission. Different missions have vastly different requirements.
We refer you to a previous section entitled: “Can a local church train missionaries?” to recall the analogy made with church-based missionary training to homeschool education.
Missions specializing in youth and young adult culture across a wider spectrum of doctrinal beliefs and fellowship will, naturally, have far fewer requirements. There expectations and level of training upon entry is far lower because they tend to work in a sphere of shorter-term commitments. Most of their personnel are coming to them with the idea of serving anywhere from two weeks to two years.
Agencies specializing in various levels of support or mass media ministries will have requirements for specialized or technical training for each area of expertise. They will want candidates who have certification and/or experience in their particular field, such as: Publication/s, radio or television broadcasting, engineering, promotion and mass marketing, translation, computers, mechanics, finance, Internet technologies, etc.
Agencies focusing on church planting among unreached people groups will require specialized training and/or experiences with the intended host culture, religion, language, etc. They will have higher standards for language and culture acquisition, understanding of biblical and theological bases for church planting, etc.
Mission sending agencies which primarily due ministries ancillary to or preparatory to evangelism and discipleship will have their own requirements, as well. These include such ministries as community development, disaster relief, training and outreach aimed at social outcasts or fringe groups, provision of basic necessities such as provision of possible water, well drilling, primary health care clinics, outpost medical or educational facilities.
There are an increasing number of opportunities for developing professional ministry training for national pastors and missionaries around the world. These roles require a higher level of biblical-theological education, including graduate-level degrees and a continuing pursuit of higher education accomplishments.
The church should not be daunted by the difficulties or time involved in shepherding their candidate through the process of training and preparation requirements for effective long-term ministry on the field. Proper training produces a higher probability of effectiveness and fruitfulness. It is worth the time and effort. However, the local church should not give up its leadership role in equipping and verifying their candidate’s fitness for the field. When the local church is clearly shepherding the process their candidate usually exceeds the requirements of the mission agency, because the church has also dealt with those intangibles of relationship, character, conviction, and competence on a long-term practical basis.