Short thoughts on missionary qualifications

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    Of course we always start our thoughts with Scriptural qualifications.  A vocational Christian worker should have qualities of leaders publically recognized within their home church fellowship equivalent to those found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. 

    A missionary candidate’s call and fittedness for cross-cultural ministry is verified and affirmed through their local church.  No one should be sent to the field who does not have positive experience and training through demonstrating commendable work in ministry (hopefully in similar or parallel ministry to that projected for the field) in their home church setting.  NEVER should a recent college grad who says they felt a burden for missions as a college student be sent out into a pioneering ministry without first having extensive training and validation through their home church and, optimally, an experienced mentor and/or team on the field to receive them.

    An acronym that is commonly used to identify characteristics of ministry leadership candidates is:  FAITH

    F – Faithful: that is, dedicated, loyal, and present in ministry

    A – Available:  that is, someone who actually volunteers for ministry consistently (and actually does the things for which they volunteer)

    I – Initiative:  that is someone who doesn’t wait to be told what to do all the time, or waits for a structure, necessarily, but someone who takes inititative to be involved in ministering to people or doing tasks that need to be done without being asked

    T – Teachable:  that is, someone who is humble and willing to learn, as distinguished by someone who is a “know-it-all” or always seek to have it their own way

    H – (a) Heart for God:  that is, someone who consistently pursues their personal spiritual disciplines and growing in personal holiness and sanctification

    To this we would add one more element:  someone who works weil with others, a team player.

    A recent, popular ministry leadership book, The Trellis and the Vine, by Marshall and Payne, describe major categories for identifying church leaders using these three C-s:

    Character – like that in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, in short “blameless”

    Conviction – having a good grasp of Biblical and theological truth

    Competence – experienced ministry skills

    To this, for those who are candidates for leadership positions having responsibility with a plurality or team of other leaders, we would add: 

    Chemistry – the Christian graces to work in unity and deference with other leaders.

    Cross-cultural capacity – the ability to adjust and embrace a difference cultural environment, values, and lifestyle


    Here’s what Dr. David Livingstone wrote about qualifications of missionaries in 1882 “Regions Beyond” magazine;

    Missionaries ought to be highly qualified in every respect; good education, good sense, and good temper are indispensable. … A sound mind and a sound body, independence of character, strength of judgment, aptitude both to learn and to teach, are of great consequence. An ability to acquire and retain languages; tact in managing others, so as to conciliate and yet to retain proper dignity and self respect are of great importance. There should also be an intrepid spirit of enterprise, decision, cool courage to meet sudden emergencies and to overcome dangers, gentleness, powers of endurance, and temperance. We want our best, most able, and greatest men to do the highest and most important of all work, making known Christ’s gospel where it has not been hitherto heard.

    What do you think?


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