A sending church assesses sent ones by taking the lead (with the assistance of a missions organization) to evaluate candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. In the security of covenant membership and authentic relationship, the church partners with candidates to holistically assess their knowledge, character, and skills. Candidates are then called to intentionally enter the next phase of the sending pipeline. - Upstream Collective Sending Church Element #8
It’s often said that there is no “plane transformation.” Missionaries do not become missionaries simply by getting on a plane. They have to have been doing it where they are at. Yet, we see very few missionaries going to the field who have had actual experience reaching out to internationals on anything but a short-term trip. Worse yet, we observe countless missionary applicants that have clearly had their church simply sign their church endorsement with no real look at their character and no real sense of sending.
The stakes are too high in global missions for the church to not take seriously their role in assessing potential Sent-Ones. For the sake of the nationals they will reach, for the team they will join, for the sending church themselves, and for the health of the Sent-One, assessment must be done by the home church. David L. Frazier in his wonderful resource Missions Smart says,
To summarize, no theological school, cross-cultural training institute, expert agency screening system, ideal team environment, or well-staffed member-care group can make someone thrive and be effective overseas if their character, giftings, and skills have not already been developed, tested and proven over time in a home church and local international community.
Part of the reason this happens is because churches assume that missions agencies will be able to do this better than they will. While missions agencies certainly have expertise in the qualifications for sending and tools to reveal areas of strength and weakness, the church knows their people. The church sees how potential Sent-Ones treat their family, what their co-workers say about them, and how they live out their faith day by day. The missions agency should be a partner, but should not allow the church to outsource the assessment of their Sent-Ones.
"The stakes are too high in global missions for the church to not take seriously their role in assessing potential Sent-Ones."
One of the measures of a church assessing and developing Sent-Ones well is to see strong candidates breeze through the application process of any sending organization because of the evaluation and coaching that the church has already provided. No church is going to bat a thousand on this. But why not try?
Upstream is here to help you Assess Potential Sent-Ones. Here are a few ways:
A subscription to the resources on our website gives you access to practical ideas for Assessing Sent-Ones for global missions, specifically characteristics to look for in potential Sent-Ones. Resources include:
Our book, Sending Church Applied (Fall 2021), will take a deeper dive into how to Assess Sent-Ones with your missions team and church leadership.
The Advanced Cohort will give extensive training and personalized coaching to help you Assess Sent-Ones in ways that are unique to your context.