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Year-End Partner Evaluations

In October, our theme was partnerships. What agency we partner with, what local field workers we partner with, who we partner with to host short-term trips, and what team leaders we entrust our people to are critical to the mission that we have as a sending church. And like anything that is mission critical, we need to take time to evaluate our partnerships.

The Upstream team has put together a lot of resources on partnerships that we’d recommend you check out. One particular article that would be helpful to anyone looking to evaluate partners for the first time and in subsequent years is “Evaluating Sending Agencies and Field Partners.” But this is a blog post, so let’s sum up some of that information in a more condensed fashion.

When thinking about evaluating field partners, you often need to go back to why you began working with them in the first place. If you haven’t written out those expectations before, take time to do so now. A few categories you can think through are:

  1. Theological

  2. Strategic

  3. Relational

Let’s take each of these and give some examples of expectations for partnerships and questions for evaluation in these categories. The following expectations and questions are simply examples. Do not copy and paste these points. You need to decide as a missions team what your expectations are for partnership and what the questions are you would ask yourselves about the partnerships.


Expectations Agreed upon with Partners

  1. They continue to uphold the permission-to-play theological values like: the Trinity; inerrancy of Scripture; Jesus is the only way; etc.

  2. The partnership should be gospel-centered in their view of God, themselves, and others.

  3. We want our partners to have a strong ecclesiology (view of the church) that aligns with our ecclesiology.

Questions Directed to the Partner for Evaluation

  1. Are there any significant theological issues your team or your ministry has had to wrestle with this year? If so, what are those, and what was the outcome?

  2. Are people on your team motivated to do the work of ministry from a gospel-centered identity in a Christ-driven posture? In what ways are they finding motivation in rules or standards? How could you better promote gospel-centered living and ministry?

  3. Have any of your views, experience, or practice of church changed over the past year? If so, in what ways?


Expectations Agreed upon with Partners

  1. Our partners are focused on a demographic of people in the world that we also want to focus on (i.e. unreached, university students, refugees, persecuted church, etc.)

  2. Their work in evangelism and discipleship has church planting as the intended goal.

  3. Their ministry is focused on raising up indigenous peoples to do the work of gospel ministry.

Questions Directed to the Partner for Evaluation

  1. Is your team continuing to focus on the demographic we partnered together to reach? If yes, what has been your experience in reaching this demographic? If not, what are the reasons for this?

  2. What has church formation looked like this year? What are the barriers to your evangelism and discipleship resulting in church planting?

  3. In what ways are you empowering nationals to lead in your ministry? What improvement could you make?


Expectations Agreed upon with Partners

  1. Our partners will communicate with us on a quarterly basis via video call.

  2. Our partners will let us know if their vision changes or if there are significant issues with a team member that is sent from our church.

  3. Our partners will receive not only our funds, but also our input.

Questions for Evaluation

  1. Did you attend or make a good faith effort to have a quarterly video call with the missions team representative at our church?

  2. What changes did you have to communicate to us this year?

  3. Were those changes made in a spirit of collaboration, or were you simply sharing information?

Again, the points above are not meant to be copied and pasted; they are meant to give you a framework under the three categories for setting expectations for your partners and examples of questions that could be asked of that partner. Form your own expectations and questions. Send the questions on to a partner, or ask them in a yearly meeting. However you choose to do it, take time to evaluate the partners you have chosen to give to, send to, and partner with in the great ministry of the gospel. We have an important role as stewards of the financial and people resources of our churches. Take this step of evaluation to make sure those resources are directed to the right partners.


Mike Easton is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.


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