Supporting Church Questionnaire – Something We Need More of.

9Marks is a ministry that wants to build healthy churches.  They understand that healthy churches should have a focus on missions, and they should be sending and supporting missionaries.

In an effort to better care for their supported missionaries, they shared an annual questionnaire that they have all of their supported missionaries fill out.

Here’s my reaction.

This is good for supporting missionaries.

I recently had a leader of a ministry tell me that only one of his supporting churches has him fill out any sort of report or questionnaire.

He was disappointed in this, and he didn’t feel like the supporting churches really cared about how the ministry was going.

So, first off, the fact that this church even has an annual questionnaire is a good – even great – thing.

Even if this form were horribly awful, overall, I think it would be a good thing.   It helps the missionary explicitly communicate some key points to the supporting church on an annual basis.  Unless pointedly asked, many missionaries are shy to mention how they are financially doing.

Sometimes, they can’t share some information.  Note how in this questionnaire they specifically ask about needs in certain areas: “Foodstuffs, educational aids, clothing, business/office supplies, toys, books and magazines, etc.”

How this could better help missionaries and supporters.

9marks has a good questionnaire overall.  Since I have filled out several of these types of forms over the years, let me suggest some improvements.

Accept Substitutes.

Supporters should be willing to accept substitutes.  I strongly recommend that a missionary annually fill out such a questionnaire that answers any questions supporters could ask.  It is often best to write this report after an annual retreat during which goals from the previous year were evaluated and plans were made for the upcoming year.

If the missionary does not use the same form for all supporters, they can waste a lot of time filling out multiple reports that basically cover the same information.

What if everybody visited annually???

In the annual questionnaire, it is mentioned that the supporting church would like to send a church leader each year for a visit.  Let me be clear; the motivation for this is very good.

However, consider the situation where there are three separate families on a team, and they each have about twenty supporting churches.  As a team, they would need to host about sixty (!) visitors to the field each year.  That is more than one per week.  The missionaries would not be carrying out their ministry; they would be hosting visitors all the time!

Be clear about finances.

The questionnaire also asks about finances.  This is good because money is kinda’ taboo to talk about amongst many of us in the West, but it is something that needs to be talked about.  Money can also be a huge stress for many missionaries.  The questionnaire simply needs more clarity.  Clearly ask: “What is your total monthly budgeted financial support need?”  And, “What amount are you lacking per month?”

Clarity on Communication.

I appreciate how they use “c” and “m” instead of “church” and “missionary.”  This recognizes the fact that many missionaries work in places were those terms are dangerous.

In addition to this, they should ask what the supporting church can or can not share about them on the church’s website.  It is amazing how many people don’t realize that the World Wide Web is world wide!  They can provide several check boxes for missionaries to select what information is permissible to put on the internet.  One of the boxes should be: “Do not put any information about us and our ministry on the internet or in public places (like in the church foyer).”  A space for more instructions can also be included.

Does your church use an annual questionnaire with supported missionaries?  Would you agree with my suggestions?

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