Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I'm really excited you're with us for episode 88 of Missions on Point. This is going to be the first of what is planned to be 14 episodes focused on church-based missionary training. If you've been listening to Missions on Point you know this is something that I'm very passionate about. I really want to see churches intentionally find missionary candidates or have missionary candidates arise from their own church membership and consciously, intentionally work with them to develop them with the skills and ministry and character that they need to be effective missionaries long-term on the mission field, particularly in hard fields or unreached people fields. This first episode is going to focus just on an introduction to give you an overview of where we're going with this series. But before we even begin the details of that, I want to talk about benefits of church-based missionary training and fill you in on what I'm not saying because I don't want to be misunderstood.

I'm not saying that every bit of training must be done in and by the local church. I'm also not saying that missionary training should be primarily non-formal education. You'll understand that better as we move along. Thirdly, not saying that missionary training in the local church is less rigorous than an academic institution. It should be equally rigorous, and it depends largely on the individual candidate and the church's capabilities and how you may delegate responsibility for different parts of that training. Fourthly, I'm not saying that any local church is fully capable of providing all the training necessary for raising up an effective and well qualified missionary. What I hope you'll catch through this series I am saying and advocating for the sending church should be the guide and supervisor of the missionary's training in a similar way to parents delegating large segments of education of their children in preparation for responsible and productive adulthood.

Secondly, I am saying that the local church is the ideal practical laboratory for observing and verifying development of godly character, biblical and doctrinal convictions and ministry competencies, including the ministry competencies of cross-cultural work. And then thirdly, I'm saying the sending church's investment in training their own missionaries will pay big dividends in ownership, relationship and future fruit of your missionary's life, family, and ministry. I hope you're catching why this is so important to me. Here's the kinds of topics that we're going to deal with as we walk through this series. First of all, we want to talk about cultivation of missionary candidates. How do you get missionary candidates? How do you find those that might become good missionaries? Then we're going to talk about goals. A couple of episodes deal with the types of goals you should have in mind as you work through the training process.

They're both external and internal goals. They have to do with the goals of the church as well as the goal of missions, what you're looking for. I will spend some time talking about verifying what we call the missionary call. This elusive, often poorly defined call on somebody's life to the mission field. And then we're going to work on some very practical steps that are included in my book, Here to There, but those steps include from beginning to think about, "Maybe God's calling me to missions," to all the different steps to get there. We will talk about the important aspect of mentoring and accountability and the hard questions that need to be asked in that process. We'll also talk about the basic training curriculum and perhaps point you to some resources for that. As well as the whole concern of preparation through reading and research, interviewing, all the kinds of things that you have to do to be interactively prepared and educated in those ways.

I'm going to talk about some keys for the missionary candidate that are important, including the biblical concept of giving up personal rights and this whole idea of commissioning and decommissioning of the missionary. That is who chooses what field they go to and when they come off the field. We will talk about shepherding on the field, which I've touched on in some other episodes, but this is specifically regarding your candidates coming up. And the next thing that follows is accountability and focus and communication and how to keep them on track. The last thing that is important I've mentioned in other episodes is the partnership agreement with the mission sending agency. It doesn't necessarily come last in the whole process, but it happens to be the last or near the last of this string of episodes, so I hope that you're going to stay with us.

I hope that you're going to find it encouraging and stimulating and perhaps take some notes so that as the Lord gives you missionaries, you're going to find it incredibly practical for your church. Here are a few basic concepts to think of as we begin. Training missionaries is not conceptually different from church training for any ministry leader in the church, though at different levels and a different curriculum. Sunday school teachers require some kind of training and orientation. Awana leaders have regular training. Ministry team leaders, deacons, youth leaders, bible teachers in your church. You want them to have a certain level of training and expertise before you turn them loose on their audience. Specialized ministry team leaders like worship leaders or training in evangelism and discipleship. Certainly people that have an office in your church, you want to see them do the kinds of things that they would be doing in their office before they are ever elected or appointed to their office.

Deacons, elders, pastors, and of course missionaries. Another concept is that training requires close supervision. Training is not academic. It is not just classroom and bookwork. Training is experiential and practical and relational, and it kind of requires a mentor or a chain of mentors or a body of people that mentor that person through the whole process. So we're talking about the kind of process that happens with workers in trades. Like an electrician or a mechanic, a carpenter, machinist, plumber, an HVAC technician or a mason. All of these have a rigorous schedule of training that slowly builds up their experience and exposure, including classroom work, for them to begin as an apprentice and then a journeyman, and then be certified and become a master in their trade. Another basic concept to remember is that this kind of training takes time. It isn't done quickly. And it depends on the particular candidate and their state in life and the church's capacity and how they may delegate certain aspects of missionary training.

So a young person coming out of high school may be guided by the church to take a particular degree in an undergraduate school that is going to help them in their missionary training. They may be encouraged to go to a Bible school. They may be encouraged to go to seminary. If it happens to be a candidate who is a family man and has children that are school age, that begins to make you think that it's going to take a while because he's probably not going to be sent off to formal training away from the church. Although there can be a lot of formal training done by distance in these days via the internet or modular type training. So the church and the candidate should not be too impatient with the process taking a legitimate amount of time. The goal is what is the finished product, not to put in a certain amount of time and get a check off that you've done enough, therefore, you can go.

It's not a surprise that missionaries and churches that shortcut that process, including at the behest of mission agencies in order to get somebody to the field faster, end up regretting it later. Our end goal is basically well-qualified, biblically-qualified missionaries who have realistic expectations about what life and ministry on the field is going to be like. That will stay and be effective long-term missionaries even amongst the hard groups that have been unreached for decades or maybe even centuries before their arrival. I want to convince you to take your time, do a good job. It's a team effort. It ultimately involves the whole church, but it certainly involves some understanding and commitment to working together through the whole process with the missionary candidate and the church leaders. If you haven't caught it already, I also believe that every missionary training sequence is individualized for that person and for the goal of what kind of ministry and what field they're going to.

A number of candidates will have already gone through quite a bit of training on their own, either through personal preparation or formal schooling before they come under the supervision for missionary training of the local church. Others may be starting from scratch and you may have a lot longer to go. And yet, it is still a joyful experience to work with someone and see them eagerly and humbly come under the guidance of their local church as the sending church before they're sent out. It is right for the church to feel that because of their large investment over a long period of time for their sent missionary, that they have a right and obligation, a privilege to be invested in their training as well. I've had missionaries in hard places tell me with tears that they wish that their sending church had invested more time in their training and development and relationship and ownership of their ministry. Because they've come into such hardships that they weren't prepared for, and they feel so alone because the church never invested in them in that way.

Having that kind of development and wrapping your arms around them early in the process will yield great benefits in the long-run when they know that you love them and that you've walked with them. You know them so well that you know their strengths and weaknesses and are able to assist them when times get tough. From the church point of view, it's also important that you have every confidence to know that they are going to rightly represent and be an extension of your church's ministry over there on the field. That they are solid in their convictions and in even their methodology of how they do things that relate correctly to the culture and to their sending church. The whole aspect of training missionaries that has a cross-cultural factor and a multilingual factor of languages, is probably going to require you to have outside resources that are not present in your local church right now.

That's okay. Don't worry. Those resources are out there and you can do this. Like I said before, it's kind of like being a parent, preparing your child for adulthood and what are all the skills and information and experiences and practice that you want them to have in order to do a good job and be responsible and productive adults. That's what you want for your missionaries on the field. May God help us as we think together about church-based missionary training in this series of Missions on Point. Please email me, Please follow or subscribe to this podcast and share it with others. Thanks for joining us today on Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and missions. I trust that you'll find more help and resources on the website, Please preferably consider supporting this ministry. Now to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever, amen.

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