Thursday, August 24, 2006

Reference Questions for Potential Mission Orgs

Sorry I haven't been posting too much lately. If you come here with anticipation for new posts, sorry. But, trust me, there is definitely some cool stuff happening under the covers. Hope to tell you more about some of that soon.

In the meantime, I am a firm believer in getting reference checks. For summer team leaders, for potential small group leaders and especially for mission organizations one might be planning on interacting with.

Here are some reference questions I would ask - my personal commentary below the actual question. I have also broken up the questions into two sets - one for the organization and one for the references they give you. And yes - you will ask them for a list of five reference contacts, at least three of whom you will contact.

To the organization
1. What is your overall goal and motivation?
Probably on the web or application. But you want to hear it from someone interactively.
2. Describe one person who is a success in your eyes 5 years after they have been involved with your ministry.
What does success look like to them?
3. What kind of qualifications do your leaders have to have before they lead your teams?
Leadership=almost everything
4. What kind of retention rate do you have with your leaders?
Leadership=almost everything
5. How do you integrate local, indigenous ministry leadership with your outreach sites?
The fine balance between indigenous leadership and visiting teams doing outreach.

To the references they give you:
1. How was the food?
Important and can be indicative of how they treat their people - if they don't provide enough bagels, will they really care about something more important?
2. How did your team get along and what was done when to deal with team unity issues?
Certainly, there is going to be some issues.
3. What were some of the quality characteristics that you loved about your leaders?
Leadership=almost everything
4. What was the biggest change that occurred in your life from your experience?
5. Would you go again and if so, how would you prepare yourself better?

These are just a start - if you are checking out an organization or ministry, you should come up with at least three more on either set. And one more thing - not many of these deal with pure logistical and tactical issues (how many on a team, transportation, safety, etc.) These are more leadership, intention, life transformation questions.

Amy M emailed and added a bit of her perspective too --
"How closely did the trip planners follow the stated plan? What kinds of deviations occurred and how were they handled?... I see root of this logistical issue in a leadership issue. Is the leader aware of the talents and abilities of the group and willing to use them to benefit the team? Is the leader willing to change the plans of the day in order to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit? How much of the focus of the leader is aimed at the needs of the group and how much is aimed at the needs of the leader."
Good questions good questions.

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