As a missions leader, you likely are having regular calls with your Sent Ones. These times are super valuable for catching up on their lives and ministry, helping them feel connected to the church, and being able to pray for them. We have an article titled “Monthly Calls to Sent Ones” available to members that outlines a pattern of questions to regularly ask Sent Ones.
While this regular pattern is very valuable, in the rhythms of life it’s important to set up opportunities to stop, reflect, and refocus. God has built a system of seconds, minutes, hours, weeks, months, seasons, years, and even decades into our lives to help us designate certain activities for certain times. The end of the year—whether it’s the calendar year or a fiscal year—is an important time to stop, reflect, and refocus. An annual review is a great tool to accomplish this.
An annual review has a few particular benefits:
Stopping to answer specific questions and to formulate answers slows down one’s mind enough to think critically and to reflect.
Writing down answers to specific questions often reveals things that would not come up in day-to-day life. I cannot tell you how many times during an annual review or application I have been surprised by something that was written down that should have come up before but didn’t. Annual reviews create space for this kind of thing to happen.
Annual reviews also create space for Sent Ones to voice issues they are having. It can be hard to bring up certain things in everyday conversation, even when asked. The review provides a natural opportunity for these issues to be discussed.
Annual reviews create space for sending churches to encourage and provide feedback to the Sent One. As hard as it can be for the Sent One to voice difficulty, it can also be hard for the sending church that is trying to provide feedback to the Sent One they are caring for.
We have a couple of tools that can be helpful for implementing these annual reviews:
Sent One Health Diagnostic - This article walks through eight areas of health for Sent Ones. It gives the Sent One the opportunity to write down thoughts about their health and gives the sending church the opportunity to respond with constructive feedback.
360 Degree Review - This article shares a review method by which a Sent One can be evaluated by those above them, beside them, and below them in an organizational hierarchy. This might not be the review you utilize as a sending church, but it’s a great tool for the Sent One to utilize with their team.
Simple Annual Review from a Sending Church Template - This is a short annual review that is personal, reflective, and will get to the heart of how a Sent One is doing. The goal of this annual review is less to evaluate and more to reflect, encourage, and think forward about what God wants them to do.
If you haven’t done so already, check out the wonderful article by Ellen Livingood called “Annual Evaluations with Sent Ones: What They Should and Shouldn’t Be.” In it she gives excellent tips for what the spirit of annual evaluations or reviews should be so that Sent Ones are honored and encouraged through the process.
Whatever time of year works best for you and however you choose to do it, give space for this important work of conducting an annual review to bring encouragement and kind clarification of expectations to your Sent Ones.
Mike Ironside 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.