By Josie Oldenburg, SEND Communications — Choosing a mission is an entirely different experience from applying for a typical job. This isn’t a clock-in/clock-out kind of position; it’s a partnership that will affect every aspect of your life. Sure, the mission agency will have questions for you – but there are a LOT of questions that you can (and should) ask, too!
“It’s good to ask the questions — it can give a sense of how the home office responds/thinks/works,” says former missionary Lois Thorpe. “When you ask, do you feel heard? Valued? Respected?”
As you gather answers, you might find you don’t care for some of the responses. It’s hard to find an agency that’s a perfect match in each and every way! Consider which areas you might be able to flex in, and which are absolute deal breakers. Maybe an agency that you otherwise love doesn’t permit missionaries to buy a house on the field — how valuable is home ownership in a foreign country to you?
Questions about requirements
- What education do I need?
- What kind of ministry experience do I need?
- What kind of pre-field preparation will I need? Do you provide this training? How long will it take?
Questions about finances
- Will I need to raise support?
- How do you determine how much I need to raise?
- Can I go to the field before all my support is promised?
- Does support go directly to me, or is there a pool system of some sort?
- What is your policy on debt?
- Who makes decisions on major purchases — me or the mission? Can I raise support for these purchases?
Questions about self-care
- Will I have medical insurance? Life insurance? Will my family members?
- Do I get vacation time? Sick time? How much?
- What are my options if I face a crisis of some sort?
Questions about your first term
- What kind of support is offered during the first term?
- Is there other training that is done on the field when I arrive?
- Will I need to learn a new language? How will I learn it?
- During language learning, will I focus entirely on my studies, or will I also do ministry?
- Is there a policy for how long my first term will be?
- Are there any restrictions on having visitors during my first term?
Questions about career growth
- Do you provide ongoing training?
- Will I have opportunities to advance with your organization?
- How are leadership roles filled?
- Can I take a break from ministry if I decide to pursue more education?
Questions about team structure
- Who will be my boss?
- How do you handle team conflict?
- Who will choose what kind of ministry I do?
- What kinds of decisions are made by the team as a whole?
- How does the team make decisions?
- How often does the team meet?
Questions about theology
- What if I mostly agree with your statement of faith, but have some areas of disagreement?
- What if my theological position changes over time?
Questions about your sending church
- How will you partner with my sending church?
- How often will I go on home service? What are the expectations for how I spend my time on home service?
Questions about your spouse
- What kinds of ministry expectations do you have for each spouse?
- Will my spouse be able to work while we live overseas? Would this be considered additional income, or would it offset our support need?
- Will my spouse be considered part of the team?
Questions about kids
- Do you provide any educational support services?
- Will you help my kids prepare for transition? How?
Questions for single missionaries
- Do you offer any support structure for single missionaries?
- Will I be expected to have a roommate?
- What if I want to date or marry someone from the country where I serve?
Your turn: What pressing questions do you have that didn’t make it onto our list? Email Josie on SEND International’s Communications team and let her know!
Want to start getting your questions answered? Click here to set up a chat with one of SEND’s experienced mission coaches.
This post originally appeared in On Mission, SEND’s monthly newsletter for potential missionaries. In On Mission, you’ll find ideas for finding a quicker route to the field, advice for getting past rough spots, or encouraging stories that prove that others have successfully navigated this road to cross-cultural service—and that you can, too. To get this free newsletter delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here!