Thursday, February 28, 2008

Missionary Training

As a missionary trainer I was interested in the latest journal of Missiology, which dedicated its entire issue to cross-cultural training. The author, Darrell Whitman, surveyed several mission organizations to assess their missionary training and found these results of those that train between 20 and 700 people each year. These are his findings.

Time and Money

"How much time do these mission organizations devote to training their missionaries? The range was 7 to 56 days, with an average of 25 days, or 3.5 weeks.

When asked what percent of the overall budget is given to training, the range was from 2% to 35%, with an average of 12% of their budget spent on training. It is noteworthy that the mission organization that trains the most missionaries (700), also spends the most in training (56 days), and devotes the highest percent of their budget (35%) to training. This is the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Focus of Training

1. Policies and Procedures (14%)
2. Cross-cultural Communication (13%)
3. Understanding Cultural Differences (12%)
4. Mission Team Dynamics (11%)
5. Discipleship (9%)
6. Theology of Mission (8%)
7. Church Planting (7%)
8. Culture Shock (6%)
9. Understanding World Religions (6%)
10. Spiritual Warfare (5%)
11. Psychological Testing and Personality Assessment (4%)

The reality is, these figures reflect agencies that provide training, but many more organizations do not provide training of any kind. In my experience in working with national mission organizations I believe the number of days, budget and focus of training is even less than for North Americans. We certainly need more missionaries, but perhaps the greater need is missionaries who are better equipped. Those responsible to make sure people are best prepared are those who are in charge of sending them.

1 comment:

Simon said...

"We certainly need more missionaries, but perhaps the greater need is missionaries who are better equipped."

I agree, I work with World Horizons in the UK, and a huge part of our focus is equipping those we send, so we're doing cross cultural and other missions training with Brits, Americans, Latins and Asians etc., with the focus on equipping people in order that they would be better able to stick with the work.

A scatter gun approach of sending lots of people with minimal training doesnt lead to all of those people giving their lives to the work, nor does it help them in difficult times, nor does it help them to contextualise the message - rather it upholds the short termist colonialist approach.