I was leading a board meeting of an organization I was a part of. We had a guest from another very large mission agency attending our meetings. This man was the #2, right hand man of the international director of that agency. He oversaw hundreds of workers on two continents. Our first item on the agenda was to review a training the mission had given three months earlier in Spain. The training was for all the field workers in the Arab world.  Several of the board members had been there so we walked through a SWOT analysis of the training, basically discussing “What went well”, “What did not go well,” and “What we will do differently next time.”  After 45 minutes of robust discussion we dismissed for a coffee break. As we stood, this #2 guy turned to me and exclaimed, “That was fantastic!”  Confused, I asked, “What was?”  He exclaimed, “You guys actually criticize the things you do!”  When I asked, “Doesn’t your board criticize the things you do?”  He replied, “Almost never.”

“…the primary reason that millions have not yet heard of Jesus, is not due to the hardness of souls, but the lack of excellence and accountability in our work.”

Michael Edwards said, “Good men prefer to be accountable. Good feedback is the key to improvement.” Bill Gates adds, “We all need people who give us honest feedback, that’s how we improve.”

Six years ago, I was doing a workshop at the B4T Expo in Atlanta. About 30 people were present; my topic was the “Missions in the 21st Century”. One of the points I was highlighting is how in missions today there is basically little or no accountability.  As I was talking about the lack of accountability in missions, a man on the far right side of the room raised his hand. I kept talking and he kept his hand up. I wasn’t planning for questions until the break, but he was sitting there and everyone could see he had his hand up, so I stopped and called on him. He said, “You are absolutely correct. There is no accountability in missions.  My daughter and son-in-law went to Europe with an organization and though they were told they’d have leadership and be part of a team, there was none.  The co-workers my son-in-law and daughter were supposed to team up with left within weeks of their arrival.  They pleaded with their mission for help with a variety of things.  They were struggling so that my wife and I flew over there twice that first year to help them.  Finally, after 18 months they quit and returned home.”

He had not sat down yet, when two more hands were raised. Both men were mission pastors and both told basically similar stories about church members who had been sent overseas and abandoned by their mission organization. In my travels this past month I’ve met with the pastors or mission pastors of exactly 32 churches.  Only two believed their people who were members of dozens of mission agencies were receiving adequate accountability.  That’s 6%.

Matt a mission pastor at a large Midwestern church said at last year’s B4T Expo in Minneapolis, “You know how I define a good mission agency?  It is an agency that does what it says it’s going to do. But unfortunately in all my years as a mission pastor, only one agency actually fits my definition of a good agency.”

I am not writing this to complain, I am writing this to give the churches and donors a wake-up call. Many of you know that I’ve met with the heads of 11 different organizations to discuss changes in the area of accountability. Yet the mission’s pastors I met with the last two months reflect that little change is forthcoming.

If we believe our work is to be excellent unto the Lord, then we need to repent and make changes. I believe the primary reason that millions have not yet heard of Jesus is not due to the hardness of souls, but the lack of excellence and accountability in our work. People are afraid to speak out about these things as if we are being un-Christ-like.  Yet our Lord called the religious leaders, “snakes, fools, blind guides, vipers, white washed tombs.” Based upon the discrepancies we find between what we say and what we do, is Jesus calling us the same things today? We need to start doing what we say we will do. We need real accountability.



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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