Are Mission Agencies Really Needed?

Dr. David Little, President
Baptist Church Planters
Grafton, OH

For many years most churches have required missionaries to be connected to a credible agency. Many churches have this requirement in their by-laws. Why? At the top of the list is accountability, both to the sending church and supporting churches. Churches want to know that financial and legal requirements are being addressed. Most churches do not feel they can adequately meet the needs of their missionaries without the expertise of a mission agency.

Most agencies have the best interest of their missionaries at heart. Almost all missionaries I know deeply appreciate the services provided by their agency. It is comforting for them to know that behind their local church is an agency that will do everything in its power to meet their needs, whenever and wherever.

Recently, some have suggested that the missionary’s sending church be the missionary’s agency. Before a church accepts this responsibility, they should think through the following:

  • Is the church prepared to handle up to 30 to 50 donations per month per missionary, receipting donors, paying out professional expenses, medical payments, preparing tax documents, and etc. on a regular basis? Missionaries frown on late checks or not receiving an immediate response to a question.
  • Is the church prepared to send prayer letters, correspond with supporting churches seeking support requirements, and answer specific questions regarding the work of the missionary?
  • Is the church prepared to send their pastor or members to the field of service to encourage and support the missionary’s work?
  • Is the church prepared to evacuate their missionaries, either for medical or life threatening reasons, regardless of the cost? There is no time to call a business meeting in desperate situations.
  • The work of being an agency is complex and should not be considered without serious thought.

Some have suggested missionaries use clearing houses. It is one option but here is a word of caution. Clearing houses simply channel money from the donors to the missionary. They do not answer questions, solve problems, visit the missionary on the field, rescue them in time of trouble, or comfort them in time of sorrow. Can a sending church do what is needed for their missionary? Many can, but as churches and pastors change, will the missionary end up on the short side of the stick?

No agency will do everything right all the time. Fault can be found, but overall, churches would do well to demonstrate appreciation for the work accomplished. When was the last time you wrote and thanked the agency that serves your missionaries?

Baptist Church Planters seeks to be transparent with the churches, missionaries, and donors we serve. Our Council has an "open meeting policy." As supporting churches and individuals, you are welcome to sit in and observe. Our financial reports are available to you if you so desire. Our Regional Field Directors will always be "up front and totally honest" with you regarding questions you might ask.

We are here to serve local churches and missionaries. If you have questions, feel free to call us. We are available.