• Mike Ironside

Evaluating Sending Models & Partners: Sending Church Element 6

A sending church evaluates sending models and partners when it proactively seeks out strategic models and partnerships that align with its convictions, vision, and strategy. This means overseas partners and missions organizations who not only help facilitate sending, but also align theologically, remain relationally accessible, and uphold the centrality of the local church. - Upstream Collective Sending Church Element #6


A sending model in its simplest form is the mode in which the Sent-One will enter the country. There are 5 considerations when choosing a sending model:

  • Accessibility - Gaining access to the country and the people the Sent-One wants to engage.

  • Flexibility - Giving the time and space to minister to the people.

  • Sustainability - Having a financially viable way to stay in the country & community long-term.

  • Credibility - Having a model that brings value to the community and opens doors to Gospel proclamation being received.

  • Geography - The Sent One being in close proximity to the people they are trying to reach.

These five considerations help Sending Churches to guide Sent Ones to traditional vocational missions pathways, or alternative pathways like Job-Taking or Job-Making.


Once the sending model is established it is now time for the Sending Church to guide the Sent-One towards a partner organization. This organization is not simply a partner for the Sent-One, it is a partner for the Sending Church. Mature sending churches understand the importance they play in the life of the Sent-One, as well as the importance of the Sending Organization. Too many churches fully delegate the role of Sending to the organization, when in fact sending is to be done in unison between three entities: the Sent-One, the Sending Church, and the Sending Organization.


"A sending model in its simplest form is the mode in which the Sent-One will enter the country."

Choosing this sending organization follows similar patterns to a relationship. You begin dating the organization, getting to know them, maybe even going on a few trips together to really see what they are like. You visit their missionaries to get to know their “family.” You get engaged by agreeing upon a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). And finally you’re married when you have a Sent-One going with that organization. As in any marriage, proper time needs to be given on the front end to make sure this is a good fit. And once you’re married, you want to stick with that partner for life. While you won’t feel that same weight with a missions organization, convictionally, you’ll want to have an understanding that divorce is messy, and marriage is worth the effort to sustain. You want to get into a relationship with a sending organization slowly, be fully committed when you are, and slow to break ties because of the implications of that investment on your kids (your Sent-Ones).


Enough with the over-blown analogies! Upstream is here to help you Evaluate Sending Models & Partners. Here are a few ways:

  • A subscription to the resources on our website gives you access to practical ideas for Evaluating Sending Models & Partners in global missions.

“Evaluating Sending Models”


“Evaluating Sending Organizations”


“Traditional vs. Alternative Pathways in Sending”


“Taking a Vision Trip”

  • Our book, Sending Church Applied (Fall 2021), will take a deeper dive into how to Evaluate Sending Models & Partners with your missions team and church leadership.

  • The Advanced Cohort will give extensive training and personalized coaching to help you identify ways to Evaluate Sending Models & Partners in ways that are unique to your context.

©2020 by The Upstream Collective.