Which should I focus on first, where I want to go or which agency to join? If I start with agency selection, do they decide where I go or do I decide?

“It’s your call.”

There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question. Often a person looking at missions will have a particular part of the world in mind and look for an agency that works there. Some agencies only focus on one region of the world, but others are more global. Typically agencies honor the interest of the prospective missionary, but give counsel as well as to whether that place fits the person inquiring. 

In today’s global ministry world, a worker may change countries or change ministry during their time of service. If the worker has chosen an agency that it is a good fit for them personally, it is easier to flex and change within the organization. 

And if the person inquiring has no idea where God wants them to go, agencies are more than willing to discuss options and help with the selection of a place and ministry.

Answer from Elizabeth in Michigan, who has served with SEND International in the Philippines, Hong Kong, China, and the US for thirty-eight years.

“First focus on your spiritual gifts, passion, and desires that God has given you.”

If you belong to a denomination that has its own mission agency, then you would first want to explore the denominational agency and then decide together where to go. But let’s assume that you will not be joining a denominational agency. 

My suggestion would be first to focus on your spiritual gifts, passion, and desires that God has given you. Let’s say that your passion and gifting are ministering to children, especially orphans. But where? Perhaps the Lord may have given you a burden to do this in a certain area, maybe not. Either way, the next step would be to search the internet for those agencies that work with orphans.

After identifying two or three agencies, research about their history, mission and purpose statements, doctrinal statement, the number of workers, financial policies and the organizational structure. For example, does it have an independent board that oversees the activities? Are most of the personnel from one or two families or does it have diversity of personnel? Try to talk to some of their personnel. Also, you might want to do a short term with that agency or visit an actual orphanage for a few weeks. 

Basically, you are trying to determine if you can “fit in” with that agency, and the agency is also trying to determine if you will fit with it. You want to be in agreement with most of the agency’s policies and practices.

Answer from Ed, who served with SIM for 22 years in Nigeria, Liberia, and Eritrea.

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