Organisations and role - how to decide?
Remember that no job or mission agency is perfect! The important thing is to think through and find an agency which will work alongside your church to provide the support and encouragement you need, and that can offer appropriate support to you and your family (if you have one). And if you're looking for a specific job opportunity, there are some suggestions here for how you might go about that.
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:
At a first glance through this website, the choice can seem a bit bewildering. There are so many great options to choose from in world mission, and this is representative of the diversity of needs that exist in today's world!
But there are a number of ways you can narrow your search which can help - this website allows you to search for opportunities based on a range of criteria. Perhaps you could start with searching for an activity you know you can do, or would potentially enjoy? You’re more likely to be effective doing something you have some experience in or that you enjoy doing. Maybe location is more important to you? The choices range from Bangladesh to Bolivia, Czech Republic to Cote D’Ivoire! (Although if it's just a great location you're looking for, you might be better to try your local travel agency than your local mission agency!) But it might be worth picking out three or four countries (or regions) that perhaps you already have some kind of connection with and start there. Or perhaps you are looking for what a particular organisation that you already have links with has to offer? Use our search options to refine your search based on for any or all of the above.
Once you’ve started to narrow down the options, read the stories of those who have done this before you, browse the organisation websites, send an email, make a phone call, and ask lots of questions - doing this will help you get a feel for what will be possible for you. Investigate it thoroughly. Think about how you are already serving in your local church - when you apply to a mission agency, they will ask what involvement you’ve had locally. This is important, because it’s difficult to see why you should want to serve God and share your faith in some overseas location if you haven’t first been doing it at home. And where is there most need? Think and pray about your involvement in those 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.
Be aware that it might not be possible for a mission agency to provide you with an exact job description and job roles may change along your recruitment journey. The nature of cross-cultural mission can often be a fluid one – a long term flexible perspective is necessary.
And try to let go of the idea that there is one thing that’s ‘just right for you’ - there probably isn’t!
Most importantly, pray and talk with your church leaders and those who know you well right from the start, and look for an opportunity with the attitude that it’s a chance for you to find an opportunity to serve God and his church throughout the world, rather than focussing solely on what you initially think is best for you – you might be amazed at how God could use you.