Relating with the sending agency

Globe in handsWhen your mission partner is also a member of a sending agency, relationships, lines of communication and authority structures can become complicated.  Who is ultimately responsible for the mission partner?  Who delivers what services?  Who has ultimate responsibility for making tough decisions?

There are no easy answers to these questions, and different churches and agencies will have different policies as to what they understand as their role and responsibility.  The important thing is to have open communication.  Establish contact as soon as possible with the agency’s representative and get to know each other.  Keep the channels of communication open, and feel free to express yourself.  Don’t worry about making a nuisance of yourself; your prime responsibility is the care of your mission worker and you have a duty to make your views felt if you don’t think the agency is doing a good job.  Most agencies prefer an active and involved church to one which is apathetic and uninterested.

You should be involved in the selection process from an early stage.  No doubt you will be asked for a reference, but you should also look to participate in discussions and formal interviews as the church representative.  The same thing applies to the debrief and re-entry process.

One of the best things you can do to ensure everything is covered and crucial issues don’t fall between two stools is to have a memorandum of understanding between the church, the agency and the mission partner.  It’s not a legal contract, but it’s a three-way agreement about who has which responsibilities.  Many agencies have their own template which can form a basis of discussion, but if they don’t, here’s one you can use for starters –www.syzygy.org.uk/?attachment_id=4634.  You don’t have to use it verbatim, but it can give you an idea of what needs to be covered.

Make sure you stay well informed about the agency so that you know who’s responsible for what, and how their vision is developing.  Be on the mailing list for their magazine and prayer updates, go to their prayer meetings and conferences.  That way you will develop a better understanding of what they do, get to know key individuals, and put yourself in the best position to deal with them effectively on behalf of your mission worker.