March 7, 2011

Evolution of Mission Agencies

There seems to exist a pattern that mission agencies will follow.  Over time, as they spend more time on the field and learn more about what is going on in missions, many mission agencies seem to advance from one phase to the next.  Each consecutive phase becomes more fruitful than the previous.  Here's how I would list these phases in terms of their major activities:

1. short-term mission trips

2. long-term missionaries

3. long-term missionaries, plus hired nationals to help in the ministry

4. long-term missionaries, plus active training & sending out of national missionaries who receive financial support

5. long-term missionaries, plus active training & sending out of national missionaries who receive financial support for a time, but go self-supporting once they've planted enough churches

6. national missionaries take over the training & sending out efforts but are financially independent

7. national missionaries train & send out more national missionaries, plus, in addition to their own financial support from within, they have also partnered with wealthy churches elsewhere in the world to provide additional financial support to multiply their outreach efforts and do things above and beyond what was possible with their own meager budget, but not so much that money gets wasted or that it stunts the growth.

I don't know of any mission agency that has advanced from stage 1 all the way to stage 7, but I can think of examples of each step in this evolution process.  Not all mission agencies will fall into one of these stages, especially when you consider the different types of mission activities that are possible.  This should just be seen as a general evolution model.  Also, unfortunately some mission agencies will follow a an alternate evolution model.  They will start out with the focus of evangelizing the world, but slowly evolve into a social justice agency and nothing more.  

So what does this tell us?  If mission agencies who keep their focus on reaching the lost, have a tendency to evolve from phase 1 to phase 7 as they spend time on the mission field and have time to assess the situation, should we not then conclude that phase 7 is the best structure for a mission agency?  At the very least, it should stand as evidence to the possibility of this conclusion.  

If you are looking for a mission agency to support, I would recommend finding one that has the structure of #7.  In the future, I'll describe what a phase 7 mission agency looks like in detail.  God bless you.

DID YOU KNOW???  2/3 of all missionaries employed by US and Canadian mission agencies are national missionaries.  (Linda J. Weber and Dotsey Welliver, ed., Mission Handbook 2007-2009. Wheaton, IL: EMIS, 2007, 12.)

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