A Six-Part Checklist for Churches: How to Select Mission Partners

Sam Rainer

April 22, 2018


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 must know 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.


5 comments on “A Six-Part Checklist for Churches: How to Select Mission Partners”

  1. Mark Harrison says:

    These 6 criteria are awesome. I commend you for establishing a means of filtering mission requests. As you know, if everything is missions (it’s too broadly defined) then nothing is missions. The filter we use is what I call the ‘Missional Matrix’. We squeeze every request through the filter to determine if the partner is a good fit for us. The criteria are similar to yours. One specific measure we use is ‘Gospel Centrality’. I find that many people doing ‘missions’ want to do ‘good things’ to help others, yet they often neglect the ‘best thing’ – connecting physical/material help to spiritual needs (sharing the Good news and making disciples). So all our mission partners must offer some opportunity to verbalize the Gospel (alongside demonstrating it as well). That’s just a thought that I’m sure you already have covered. Thanks for leading the way in helping your church clearly define and stay on target with God’s mission.

    1. Lenee says:

      Hi Mark, our missions leadership team is at this point of defining a “missional matrix” Would you mind sharing yours to provide some initial tracks for consideration? Thank you!

  2. joseph k paul says:

    Do you support churches in Kenya. I have read the three items required and which are very fundamental and i have found that it matches with our church constitution.

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