How to Select the Right Mission Partner for Your Church

If you’re a ministry leader, you likely get the request often. It’s an understandable—and often legitimate—request. Most church leaders field a lot of requests from ministries wanting to be mission partners. I can’t blame them. If you believe in your ministry, then you should want as many mission partners as possible. Churches are often the first place people seek help, and I understand the desire to raise a lot of support.

The Internet age makes it much easier for independent missions, movements, and ministries to raise funding, as well as gain access to the decision-makers in churches. Independent works are on the rise. Expect these types of requests to continue and to increase in number.

How do you begin to select a mission partner with so many out there? What do you say when you’re inundated with requests? I’ve created a six-part checklist to help our church begin the decision process.

We start by answering three questions.

  1. Can we put boots on the ground? Unless we can actually send our people to the field, then we are reluctant to form a partnership.
  2. Can we form a long-term partnership? While a one-time, one-week trip may be legitimate, we prefer to form partnerships that last years, if not generations.
  3. Can we fund them? We want to send our people and our money. We desire to be invested both ways.

If we can answer each of these questions affirmatively, we then ask for three items from the potential mission partner if we want to continue the process. These items are requirements. If a potential mission partner cannot provide these items, we will not form a partnership.

  1. Doctrine. The first requirement (and in my view the most important), is a formal doctrinal statement. If a group cannot tell you what they believe, then you have no business partnering with them. Some churches may want narrow doctrinal parameters. Our church has broader doctrinal parameters (we partner with people outside of our denomination). However, I mustknow what you believe before I ask my church to send people, money, and time to support your work.
  2. Vision. The second requirement is a vision statement or some written document that details the future work of the ministry. If a group cannot tell you where they are going, then you shouldn’t get on board.
  3. Financial Viability. The third requirement is financial statements. Understandably, some organizations are small. But they should still show you something that reveals their financial viability. If a large organization is not willing to send you basic financial statements (at least an income statement), then they are hiding something. Don’t partner with them.

In my experience, the best mission partners are eager to share these three requirements. Why? What they believe drives their mission. Their vision is big and excites them. And they have nothing to hide financially.

While this six-part checklist is not comprehensive, it’s a way to filter the vast majority of requests that come your way, and you can eliminate most requests without sounding harsh with a quick “no.” It will also help highlight those ministries that are the best fit for your congregation.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sam Rainer III

Sam serves as lead pastor of West Bradenton Baptist Church. He is also the president of Rainer Research, and he is the co-founder/co-owner of Rainer Publishing. His desire is to provide answers for better church health. Sam is author of the book, Obstacles in the Established Church, and the co-author of the book, Essential Church. He is an editorial advisor/contributor at Church Executive magazine. He has also served as a consulting editor at Outreach magazine. He has written over 150 articles on church health for numerous publications, and he is a frequent conference speaker. Before submitting to the call of ministry, Sam worked in a procurement consulting role for Fortune 1000 companies. Sam holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the University of South Carolina, an M.A. in Missiology from Southern Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at Dallas Baptist University.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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