Are the Missions Organizations You Support Excellent?

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In the world of missions, disaster response, and community development, there are a lot of organizations. A LOT. World Renew works in partnership with a lot of them. 

From time to time I will be contacted by a church that has been contacted by another organization or someone knows someone at an international organization, and I'm asked whether it's a "good" organization to support. Sometimes I am able to connect with CRWM or World Renew staff if we are also in the country and get some on the ground scoop. Other times I just look at their website and I can get an idea what sort of organization it is.

The Accord Network, of which World Renew is a part, suggests the following 8 Principles of Excellence in Integral Mission. I think it's a great starting point for evaluating any organization. You can get the more detailed listing here, but below is an overview:

Our work to end extreme poverty will be characterized as excellent when:
  1. Our Christian faith is at the center of our identity, motive and manner of being.
  2. We acknowledge the reality and significance of the spiritual realm.
  3. The Church is central.
  4. Transformational practices start with us.
  5. We recognize the whole system of poverty.
  6. In our relationship journey with the church, our local partners, and the community, we enter as guests, co-labor as partners, and continue as friends.
  7. We support local communities and churches in measuring All that matters.
  8. We tell the story with integrity.

Are there any you would add to that list? How do you know if the organizations you support have these characteristics?

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Excellent question Wendy and one that I believe is not asked enough when churches or our church members get excited about a mission or ministry and want to support that organization. I personally know people that supported a mission for years before they began to realize the paternalistic tendencies this mission had and ended their support.  

Why is it some people are so quick to give to an organization without understanding how the organization works and what they do, or don’t do. I think perhaps that our mission agencies have done a poor job of explaining what good development looks like? Or perhaps poor development and poor missions has been going on for so long people just assume this is the way it should happen.

I think the bigger concern is when CRC congregations go off on their own and start their own international ministries with little to no knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. I have seen stories in our denominational publication of churches that have gone to countries around the world to build schools or churches or houses for pastors or children’s homes. While they may have perfectly good intentions generally they do not follow good development practices and are probably creating more harm than good. I know some of these CRC congregation supported missions are in countries where WR or CRWM have had a presence for years and yet they are not consulted about the project.

I am glad to hear you do receive inquires from people and churches about different organizations. As churches start to look beyond their neighbourhoods and extend their mission focus globally it will be good for them to understand these characteristics and ask these types of questions will be important for them to ask before they act. I think it is also important for our denomination to have a clear sense of what good development and mission work is. If CRC congregation supported missions with little to no thought about good development practices are highlighted in the Banner, somewhere there is a disconnect.

Guide

Thank you for commenting, Larry! I have very similar sentiments about the Banner articles. What helps me is to take an asset based/appreciative inquiry approach (it works in the field, why not with our churches?)

I focus on the heart that is behind supporting those organizations. I am sure that their intentions are good. And, not everyone wants to learn about good development/missional practices. It is my job to serve those who do.

Hopefully the Global Missions Network and other communications that come from our agencies will reach those whom they are meant to reach.