“I would love to work with church leaders of existing national churches overseas rather than planting a church myself. Is that possible?”

Not only possible, but valuable!

This is a great question related to a massive need around the world. In most countries, local churches are doing an excellent job of planting new congregations on their own due to decades of investment by missionaries.

In many of these places, the increase in new bodies of believers far exceeds the ability of the church to produce trained leaders to guide them. So, the short answer to your question is “yes!” Not only is this a possible focus of ministry, but it is also a critical one in today’s global Body of Christ.

To help you in finding an agency that will fit you well, please consider the following:

Denominational mission agencies focus on church planting as part of their reason to exist. All the denominations I know of want to see growth in the number of churches holding to their doctrinal stance.

If working with existing church leaders is your hope, express that clearly in talking with denominational agency representatives, or look more toward interdenominational agencies as possible partners. Though interdenominational organizations also may have church planting in their ministry mix, it is rarely a primary focus.

Consider the mission and vision of the agency. Is the organization focused on the local church? Do its workers train leaders, invest in church health, and facilitate growth, or are they more focused on evangelism and church planting? Many agencies will do all the above, but their mission and vision will help you know where the “heart” of the agency lies.

All agencies want to see kingdom growth, and most agree that will happen best as more churches are planted. You might hear the goal stated like this, “We want to see a Christ-following church within walking distance of every person in the country.”

The mission’s strategy often reveals the difference between an agency that wants its missionaries to plant new church bodies and organizations that want to see growth happen more organically by training local church planters. The agencies that are training local church planters will also emphasize health, development, and further local multiplication.

Finally, ask the agency recruiter to connect you with some of their workers involved in the exact ministry you are targeting. This will help you set realistic expectations of what this will look like for you within that specific agency. Remember, you are evaluating each potential agency for fit similarly to them evaluating you.

If you have further questions about finding fit, feel free to contact me at jeffboesel@oci.org.

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