How a Missionary should Use an Annual Church Questionnaire or Report.

Form filling Quickly: Sprout Social by Rob Enslin on FlickrIf you raise any missions support from churches, be thankful when they ask you to fill out some sort of annual questionnaire or report.  The good news is that they take your ministry seriously, and they want to hear from you and know how to better care for you.

An annual questionnaire for a church can be very helpful in maintaining a strong tie with a supporting church.

One downside is that if you have multiple supporting churches, it can be tough to submit many different questionnaires throughout the year.  You see, different churches will have different fiscal years, and so they will want an annual report submitted at different times throughout the year.

Given that there is some downside because of the time it could take to submit each church’s questionnaire, you need to know that they can be a real benefit.

How to use a Church Questionnaire.

Be pro-active here.  Don’t just fill out whatever form every church sends you throughout the year.  Instead, create your own annual report.  Once you have completed your own annual report, send it to each supporting church and ask that it take the place of other forms that they might request, but be clear that you can offer additional information as needed.  You can also mention that you are using your one report so that you don’t redundantly fill out church questionnaires.  Most all churches will accept this, and you won’t have to fill out multiple reports year round.

However, don’t only use your annual report with current supporting churches.  If a church that you have targeted for raising support asks for some information or asks you to fill out an application, you can also include the questionnaire you created for current supporting churches.  Simply say, “I’ve also included the annual report I submitted to my current supporting churches to help inform you better.”

This will communicate some key things to a potential supporting church.  It shows that you do indeed communicate with supporters, and it shows that you offer up information; they don’t have to pester you for it.  It also implies that you do have current supporting churches.  If other churches support you, then it implies that they should join the club!

What to include in your Church Questionnaire.

There is some basic information that you should definitely include (Names, contact info., missions organization, location of service, years on the field, when you plan to be in your home country, when you could possibly visit, wedding anniversary, birthdays – am I forgetting anything?), but you should not put these items first.

Why not put all that basic information first?  It is boring.  Yes, you need to include it, but put a kind of cover letter on your questionnaire.  On that cover letter, include a family picture, and share one brief thing you are excited for them to read about in the report.  Only a paragraph or so is needed, but it gets people reading much more than a table of data does!

Beyond the basic information, here is what you should cover and questions you should answer in your annual church questionnaire:

  • What is the overall primary goal of your ministry?
  • What were 3-5 goals for your ministry last year?  Results?
  • What are your 3-5 five goals for your ministry for the next year?  How do you expect to accomplish those goals?
  • Is there one thing that especially encouraged you during the last year of your ministry?
  • Were there certain difficulties or stressors during your last year that we should be aware of?
  • Who is your supervisor that you report to?  How often do you report to them, and can we contact them?
  • How is your marriage doing?  What steps do you take to protect this?
  • How are your children doing?
  • How can we better care for you during the upcoming year?
  • Have you faced any health problems?
  • How are you financially?
  • Current financial support required by your mission agency?
  • What level of financial support are you at?
  • Is it possible for us to send a short term team to you on the field?

If you answer these questions (including the basics I mentioned above), you will cover 95% of what most supporting churches want to know.  The church questionnaire shouldn’t be a hassle; it is a good tool to help you stay on track and be cared for by your supporters.

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