Thursday, May 19, 2016

Just In Time Learning


Why Pre-Field Training?

It’s a hard sell.  Missionaries are trying to get to the field.  They’ve been approved by their denomination or sending agency, they’re raising support and to stop in the middle to attend a three-day, one or two week training session seems to be a waste of time and money.  But is it?

The Long Road Less Travelled

What is the process for getting to the mission field for a career missionary?  Consider the chart below, an arbitrary time scale to be sure, but a guide nevertheless.

1.     Discovery could be an introduction to missionaries in Sunday School to a mission conference where one is introduced to everything from Hudson Taylor to orphanages in Haiti.

2.     Interest is the dipping the toe into the water by attending an Urbana conference, a short-term mission trip or taking a Perspectives course.

3.     Commitment is answering “the call.”  It’s that defining moment when one says, “Here am I Lord, send me.”  But how do I get there?

4.     Preparation may include going to seminary, an internship in a local church as well as filling out application to a missionary sending agency.  This period time could easily be five years or more.

5.     If one perseveres to the point they are approved to be a missionary, they begin the funding process, which is between six months (rare) to three years (sadly, not unusual).

How prepared is a missionary really for cross-cultural service? Their cultural anthropology class was six years ago and they have no clue why the study of kinship has anything to do with being a witness to a Hindu.  True, they did spend two weeks in the Dominican Republic participating in vacation Bible school, but did they learn what it takes to set up residence in Serbia?  They may feel called to serve in the Philippines, but exactly what is the need in that country, which has had the Gospel four times longer than they have been alive?


Just in time (JIT) training is that period of time, about six months to one year before being fielded, which can make all the difference in the life of a missionary family.

First, it sharpens their focus.  If a missionary is 50% into fund raising , JIT will actually help the missionary raise the most difficult period of support raising because their focus will be on what they are going to do and who they will be working with.  A clear focus not only motivates the missionary, but also those who listen to their plea for support.  Hazy goals will produce hazy results.  Clear goals will produce realistic and attainable results.

Second, JIT means that when a missionary does get on the field six months later they will have a head start on what needs to be done and the process on how to achieve their goals.  The missionary will actually understand that contextualization isn’t just a word they learned ten years ago in an obscure classroom, but a reality in the context they now find themselves.

The reality is, many missionaries are woefully ill equipped before launching out in cross-cultural work.  Just-in-time training is not only practical, it could very well be the defining moment in the life of that missionary.

To learn more about JIT in KC August 23 - 25 go to this link.