Going through a sending agency has its advantages, but getting a job or starting a business overseas provides a natural and understandable identity among the people that you want to reach. It also supplies a natural way to meet people, makes use of that college degree that you’ve earned, and keeps you from having to raise financial support. Before deciding, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Advantages: Sending Agencies…
- Are usually far more interested in your language and cultural acquisition; they give more opportunity for language training.
- Provide training for specific ministry skills needed for the location.
- Give more time for direct ministry and allow more focus on the main reason you are there.
- Provide an environment to work with similarly minded people, give encouragement, and develop strategies for ministry teamwork.
- Better connect your ministry to a larger city-wide or people group ministry strategy.
- Involve more people in your ministry as you raise prayer and financial support.
- Often your visa status is more tenuous, and you can get kicked out by the government easier.
- Your identity is less understood by the local community, and sometimes a “business” or other identity needs to be developed anyway.
- It is harder for you to model normal Christian life when you are getting outside support for ministry. This could create a desire of local believers to also raise outside support rather than get local jobs.
Advantages: Marketplace employment as a teacher or with a company…
- Provides identity that is more easily understood and accepted by locals.
- Gives a more natural way to meet people and develop relationships as co-workers.
- Offers opportunities to model to believers and unbelievers what it is like to be a Christ follower living in the culture.
- In some cases produces plenty of salary funds to support other ministries.
- Most overseas jobs require many more working hours per week than US secular jobs and leave little time for direct ministry.
- Flexibility and availability for ministry is normally much lower when working for companies. In some cases all you have time for is your job when you consider the extra difficulties of living internationally.
- Ministry boldness is sometimes limited because of the possible negative effect on the reputation of the company and its restrictions on sharing your faith.
- Often businesses provide less opportunity and emphasis on language and culture learning.
- Businesses could transfer you without regard to relationships or personal ministry.
- Your job may give you less flexibility in picking which country or people group to go to.
Other posts in this series: