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Missio Nexus: A ‘Trade Association’ for Missionaries and Mission Organizations, Stops Offering Health Plan Coverage to Members

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Missio Nexus, a membership association for mission organizations that was formed in 2012, recently decided it was no longer financially feasible to offer health plan coverage to its members.

Its president, Ted Esler, likened it to a trade association—it works to stimulate relationships and ideas and encourage collaboration among its members. It stemmed from the merger of two other missionary groups, Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association and Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies.

Missio Nexus now counts its membership at 314 member organizations with over 53,000 staff members of those organizations.

Some of the largest missions-focused ministries in the world are members of Missio Nexus, including Wycliffe Bible Translators, Pioneers, Mission to North America (PCA), and Cru. It also has 91 member churches.

“Our members are not competitive, but cooperate with each other. We provide a platform for ministries to find each other, learn from each other, and cooperate and collaborate,” Esler told MinistryWatch in an email.

Because missionaries and mission organizations often face the same sets of issues, Missio Nexus provides an avenue for them to find joint solutions.

One of the biggest challenges its members face is acquiring health insurance, so in 2018 the group founded Missio Benefits, Esler said.

The program was popular and within a year and a half, one-third of the membership was enrolled, he said.

However, the group pretty quickly discovered that providing self-funded health coverage was quite an undertaking. 

“Starting in March of 2021, the claim runs began to outstrip projected reserves. By July we decided that we had better stop providing this service, informed our constituency of the situation, and provided a path for new coverage under Guidestone,” Esler said. 

Guidestone is a faith-based investment firm that also provides health plan coverage to individuals and groups. 

In 2020, over $12 million of Missio Nexus’ revenue was expended on the self-insurance premiums and medical claims.

It will continue to pay claims until November 1, 2022, Esler said, through a reserve it funded before the close of the program.

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Missio Nexus is different from other missionary organizations because it doesn’t directly send or fund missionaries or their field work. Instead, its work is focused on facilitating a platform where churches and missionaries can network and collaborate.

Members meet and learn together at its 20 to 25 sponsored events each year. In 2021, over 6,000 of its members attended at least one of its events. 

It also produces publications and podcasts, and curates an online library.

Missio Nexus is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Missio Nexus was a member of ECFA and ECFA was a member of Missio Nexus, Esler said, until a few years ago.

An auditor suggested this could represent a conflict of interest since ECFA was a sponsor of Missio Nexus, so they “both ended membership in each other due to this potential conflict.”

Instead, Esler said the group is audited by an outside firm every year. He provided the 2020 audited financial statement to MinistryWatch and said the statement for 2021 should be available in a few weeks. He added that Missio Nexus provides financial statements to anyone who asks.  

The financial statement showed Missio Nexus had over $13 million in revenue and support in 2020. “Most of our funding comes from membership dues, events (including sponsored events), and programs that are offered for a fee above membership dues,” Esler explained. He said the group rarely makes direct fundraising appeals.

A large portion of that $13 million in revenue in 2020 was from the health coverage premiums. Setting those aside, Esler said Missio Nexus has about $1 million in revenue, “with 45 percent coming from membership dues, 35 percent from events, and the remainder from support raising our staff does.”

Membership dues for a missionary group depends upon its size. Those with only one to three employees pay $250 annually, while a group that has over 700 full-time employees would pay $10,000 annually.

A church congregation can join for $250 annually and gain access to the resources for staff and volunteers working with the missions effort of the church.

Digital events offered to members are free and have a nominal fee for non-members. In-person events come with a cost, Esler said. Their largest event, the annual Missions Leader Conference, accounts for the majority of their event income. 

Mission Nexus spent about $521,000 in 2020 on salaries and benefits for its employees.

Missio Nexus does not file a Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service. According to Esler, the group is viewed by the IRS as an association of churches and is thus exempt. 

MinistryWatch takes the public position that, for transparency and accountability, organizations ought to release their Form 990s with the donor section redacted.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.