What to Look for in a Sending Agency - Radical

What to Look for in a Sending Agency

At Radical, we firmly believe that local churches play a central role in sending missionaries to the unreached. But we’re not suggesting that churches should send missionaries alone. Rather, God uses parachurch organizations like sending agencies and training programs to help churches prepare missionaries for the field.

Many churches simply don’t have the intercultural expertise to send missionaries by themselves, and sending agencies play an integral role in supporting local churches as they send their members. At the same time, there is a tendency to outsource missionary sending to sending agencies. When you’re looking for a sending agency, look for one that commits to partnering with the local church instead of replacing it.

Look for a sending agency that commits to partnering with the local church.

Look for Commitment to Partner with the Local Church

God has given local churches the responsibility to send and vet missionaries (Acts 13:1–3). These churches know their members and can observe their lives for an extended period of time in a way that sending agencies cannot.

For this reason, look for sending agencies who are committed to communicating well and leaning on local churches to provide pastoral care to missionaries sent from their churches. For example, if the missionary faces a problem on the field, sending agencies should bring in the local church to assist them as they care for the missionary.

Look for a Clear Definition of the Gospel and the Church

When you’re looking for a sending agency, make sure they have a clear and biblical understanding of the gospel and the local church. As elementary as this may sound, make sure to read each agency’s doctrinal statements. Read their statements on the doctrine of salvation, conversion, and the church carefully. Ask them to define what a church is and how this changes based on the context.

Whether a church is in Atlanta or Kuala Lumpur, biblical churches should have noticeable traits. David Platt has helpfully written an article on what to look for in a church where he identifies twelve traits of a biblical church.

Look for Experience in the Regions They Send Missionaries

Sending agencies primarily exist to provide intercultural experiences in the regions where they help churches send missionaries. For example, a local church in Guatemala City simply won’t have the logistical expertise or resources to place a missionary in Beirut, Lebanon. But by partnering with a sending agency, local churches are able to lean on the support of these agencies to send missionaries effectively and carefully to hard-to-reach places around the world.

For example, our Training Director at the Radical Training Center has visited hundreds of missionaries that serve with various agencies in red zones around the world to learn more about the work that is happening on the ground and how they approach this work. This would likely not be possible without sending agencies with vast expertise in these regions.

Through all his travels, he observed that over and over agencies provided focused cross-cultural support that individual churches have difficulty matching. Within most mission agencies you’ll find seasoned language coaches, security personnel, and member care professionals present whose sole responsibility is to support global workers and the churches that send them.

Look for Support While on the Field

While missionaries are on the field, they should continue to receive care from their sending church, join a church in their new city, and receive support from their sending agency. Sending agencies can play a unique role in providing language coaching, counseling, and logistical support to missionaries on the field.

If you’re a pastor of a sending church, consider inviting sending agencies to help your congregation care for missionaries on the field. Look for agencies that can supplement the support that your church is giving and provide insight into areas that your church isn’t knowledgeable on.

Invite Your Pastors Into the Process

Remember that you don’t have to approach this alone. Take time to invite pastors and mentors into the conversation. For example, at the Radical Training Center, our staff helps aspiring missionaries work with their local churches to vet sending agencies. Before a sending agency is invited to meet with the participants of the Radical Training Center, the staff reads through their doctrinal statements, discusses missions philosophy with agency leaders, and often spends time visiting the agency headquarters.

Plus, the Radical Training Center gives agencies the opportunity to visit our training center during the program. The goal of this is for students and agencies to begin to build a relationship with one another. This helps facilitate opportunities for students and agencies to connect.

Remember that sending agencies exist to support local churches in sending missionaries. As you begin the process of talking with specific agencies, consider inviting an elder in your church to join you in those calls. Take time to process these discussions with leaders in your church. Before selecting a sending agency, make sure they are committed to working with the local church and hold to sound doctrine. By partnering with a sending church and agency, you make sure that you have both spiritual accountability and logistical support during your time overseas.

Cole Shiflet

Cole Shiflet is the content manager at Radical. He is a member of Redeemer Community Church and an M.Div. student at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama.


That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!