You're certainly not short of choice when it comes to mission agencies, so where do you start?
- Most importantly, your home church has a key role in sending you and is the place to begin. Agencies exist to help churches fulfill God’s mandate for world mission - not the other way round. Think about how this organisation might work alongside your church and maintain links once you’re abroad. Talk with your church leaders and use their wisdom to help you in the decision-making process.
- Once you have some idea either of the type of work you could do, an area of the world to work in, or a people group you would like to work amongst, you can begin to narrow the field considerably. Look at those organisations that are of most relevance, read some introductory information, and pray about your choice.
- On the other hand, it is good to consider where there is most need. Think and pray about your involvement with mission agencies working in areas and places where people are most unreached. Be prepared to be challenged or re-directed. Perhaps there is more need for you in places or projects which you haven’t yet considered.
- Look for a ‘fit’ with the mission agency you are thinking you might go with. Do you and your church share their vision and values? Check out their mission statement. If possible, go along to one of their events in the UK to meet some of the team and learn more.
- Examine their theological or doctrinal statement – and their outworking of that. What is important to them and does it tie in with what’s important to you? (e.g. if you’re charismatic, is it charismatic? If you’re reformed, is it reformed?)
- Can you be sure that you (and your family and dependents) will be looked after whilst you are serving with this agency? Ask about the level of pastoral care they provide both in the UK and overseas. Do they have good support systems in place? What about if you run into difficulties? And are they also willing to help on your return to the UK?
- Talk with them about your sense of call – is it to a people, a place or a cause? To what extent are they willing to explore this with you?
- Ask about the selection process and what happens if you are selected and choose to go with them – do you understand and are you comfortable with the process? What orientation, training and debriefing do they provide?
- Ask about the financial arrangements – what systems are in place and how much money you need to raise (if you do)? What help will they offer?
- If possible speak to a missionary in the organisation you're thinking of joining and in the area you're considering.
- Remember too that the agency needs to consider how well you will fit into one of their teams – they also need to select you!
For more detailed responses to this issue, see the following: