How to Choose Which Missionary to Support

Because the work of world evangelism the most important responsibility of the local church, choosing the right missionaries ought to be a high priority. Here are some questions and suggestions on how to choose the right missionary to support.

How much research have they done on their country? Before a missionary comes to the church check out the general statistics of the country and ask him about them while he is there. He ought not to know everything but the general questions. If he hasn’t studied his country enough then he probably isn’t the kind of missionary that you want.

What is his work ethic? Missions is over spiritualized many times. Just because a person has been called by God to a place does not mean that he ought not to be working. The answer, “I have not had to call any pastors and I think that is what God wants me to do” is very spiritual but very rarely works. They will then proceed to tell you how it has been a long time and not much money coming in. If a man has a full schedule for a year or so then it might be alright but if not he needs to be on the phone. God honors hard work. On the mission field, a lot of times, the work is established through Gods leading and much hard work. If they do not work hard here then how are they going to work hard there?

Missionaries do not need to be taken on by pity or by need. Many times the pastor and people in the church feel pity for a person and when they do this, this causes the church to want to help. Help by giving a one-time offering maybe, but a missionary should not be taken on by need. They ought to be taken on by their fruit. Look for a man who will produce or has produced in what God has called him to do. Some pastors might say, “I just know that no one else will support him so I just wanted to help him.”

Ask him about his preparation or what makes him feel that he can do what God has called him to. Has he been prepared? Has he studied? Is he looking into language schools? What are his prerequisites for the language schools that he plans on going to? Why did he choose that one? Be sure that he is going to language school. If not, do not support him.

We are sending way too many missionaries out to the field who are not prepared to do the job and cannot fulfill their own expectations for when they arrive. We ought to take on the missionaries as we would invest in a business. If you had stock in the stock market then you would watch it to see how it was doing. In missions, we ought to keep our eyes open as to what is going on. That doesn’t mean large numbers in attendance but he should be able to produce 2 or 3 disciples in a term.

What kind of strategy do they have? Or are they going to train with someone who can teach them about how to develop a strategy? God has called me to do something. Now the question is, “How am I going to do that?” Are they studying and thinking of ways? What is their view of teamwork?

Many of the problems that we have in missions are caused by the kind of missionaries that we allow in our churches. Our people don’t come to the conferences but it might be because they are tired of what they see in missionaries. Pick the right ones to be before your people and your people will get excited about missions, support the right ones and you will have a church that thinks that it is impacting the world. Support missionaries who you would be happy to have on your staff position at your church.

Consider nationals as a possibility to support due to the obvious advantages that they have.

Does he agree with and practice the philosophy of your church discipleship?

Know their accountability stance, for example, their mission’s agency and local church.

If you have certain prerequisites for who you will support then let them know upfront so that they do not make an unnecessary trip. If you tell a missionary that you are going to support him or send him the missionary offering, then do it when and the way you say.

Does he have a world view or just a localized view? Is he going to pastor in one place like a supported pastor on the other side of the world? Know the man and support him; not the field.

He understands the training of men to do the work and not the fallacy of doing it himself.

Have an explained system of how you choose missionaries. Don’t let it be whoever calls the most or catches you at the right time. You should have a way to get the best missionaries in your church.

Do not hide behind a questionnaire because you do not have a plan. It is ok to use a questionnaire if you really use it to ask the right questions. A missionary should know the first time he calls how to or how not to get a meeting. He shouldn’t be left with false expectations.

Look for a missionary that understands the difference between hard work and smart work.

About the author

Austin Gardner is pastor of Vision Baptist Church in Alpharetta, GA. Previously he was church planting missionary in Peru for 20 years.

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