Audio Transcript:

Welcome to Missions on Point, the Propempo perspective on church and Missions. Hey, this is episode 95 of Missions on Point. We're in number eight of 14 in a series on Church-Based Missionary training. This particular episode is going to deal with the training curriculum, and it's based on a missionary training class that I've taught several times. The design is a 40 week curriculum including a field trip at the end.

Now, your missionary candidates may not follow exactly a 40 week curriculum. The 40 week curriculum does not include in-depth training in biblical and theological studies. It assumes that you're going to have academic type studies outside of this training sequence. But it includes personal, strategic, practical, and experiential elements in it.

So some of the key segments in this one year semiformal training curriculum include spiritual, personal, academic, strategic, and practical concerns. On the spiritual side, we've already talked about personal spiritual disciplines in the previous episode. We also need to survey some biblical and theological basis for missions, including the priority and exclusivity of the gospel and priority of evangelism in ministry overall.

The missionary candidate needs to have tools and a plan for spiritual growth, "On their own." As well as a general understanding of a biblical perspective on their missionary call and the role of the local church in missions. I find it helpful to do some biographical studies of what would be Old Testament missionaries and New Testament missionaries, including the character of missionaries, especially as it's set next to the character of leaders in the local church.

Those kinds of things are the bridge into personal areas, including the much misunderstood and often neglected talk about missionary roles and responsibilities on the field, including all of their field relationships and teamwork, having biblical confrontation skills or conflict resolution skills.

One of the things that missionaries don't realize is how much administration and organization is required of them when they get to the field, and you need to give them some hints, and questions and exercises to help them grow in those areas. An understanding of teamwork, and consensus and unity among a team that may be very diverse in their background and understanding is very significant.

Within the academic content apart from biblical and theological studies, are studies related to their target group, the host religion of that target group. So whether it is Islam or Buddhism, atheism or humanism, Hinduism or animism, they need to dig deep into trying to understand the basis and the primary principles of those religions. Some history and principles of missiology applied to that for culture and customs and adaptation.

Certainly they need to have some language learning skills and methodology, perhaps delve into some studies of case studies for people groups that are similar to the one that they're targeting. Linguistic skills in particular and specific religion studies, may be something that you have to outsource or you bring a specialist in for a significant amount of time to interact with your candidate on those things.

Within the strategy or strategic area of the curriculum, the student needs to understand the church planting process. And you can go about this in a variety of different ways, but certainly there's plenty of reading out there in the church planting process, but talking to real church planters, especially if you can find some that have done it on the field in a similar setting, is really a very positive thing to add to the curriculum.

They need to understand discipleship, and leadership training methods and indigenous principles. Those things aren't acquired just by reading and classroom work. By the time they're done with this segment, your candidate ought to be able to understand and articulate something of a history of the people group and their religion from its origin to the present, and they should be able to compare and contrast some of the beliefs and cultural understandings that are framed by those beliefs of the people group which they're targeting.

When we get into the practical side, I've broken it down into three significant sub areas. One is exposure, the second one is experience or internship, and the third one is miscellaneous skill development that is particular to the missionary's work.

Within exposure, they need to be exposed to the variety of ministries of the church. So all the way from the nursery to say elder care, and nursing home ministry and visitation in the hospital. They need to have a sampling of exposure to all the different types of ministries and the principles or the whys and wherefores of how we do ministries to these affinity groups.

They also need practical exposure to cross-cultural ministries. Some of that can be local. Most places in the United States are within reach of cross-cultural communities of one sort or another where they can observe and they can see some of the differences and opportunities in different cross-cultural settings.

Then they ought to have some practical exposure to church planting. Surely there is a church plant that has some like-mindedness to your church that you could loan them to for a few weeks to talk to the church plant team and see how things are done there. There's so much available online now in terms of videos, and blogs and workshops, how-tos that they should be able to find some good curriculum items to give them exposure to church planting online.

The second significant area within the practical part is experience or internship, and this is actually getting their hands dirty, doing some of those ministries of the church, and cross-cultural ministries, and church planting. So it's the same lineup of things, but now it's actually getting involved in it, not just being exposed to it.

The third area in the practical side is some miscellaneous skill development. And this has to do with the kinds of skill development that you would hope and expect for every missionary that is good communication skills, both in front of a large group of people, smaller groups of people one-on-one and in writing or in emails. It's here that the church may build some specific expectations about how often and what kind, and the depth of communication with their missionary on the field that is expected.

Certainly most every missionary is expected to publish a newsletter or prayer letter of some kind. My recommendation is at least quarterly to a broad spectrum of a large mailing list. There are other segments of that, that need greater, and deeper and more beneath the surface kind of communication for those that are caring for them within their sending church, and their missions team or their supporting constituency.

That leads to the next area of support raising. This seems to always be a challenge and it is, but support raising is something that has to be done and it is actually a part of the ministry. It's not just a necessary evil. It is a God ordained partnership that is an essential segment of their ministry. Missionaries don't do support raising in order to do ministry. Support raising is a part of the ministry. The church and its people, and its supporting structures can help in that process, so the missionary is not hanging out there alone trying to do it all themselves.

A third area is use of technology. Even though most young adults I've met recently would say that they're pretty techy in their understanding of use of technology, what they don't know is that their use of technology is pretty much exclusively limited to their smartphone and social apps. Those tools are far from the extent of what is needed for a missionary to understand in order to be very productive on the field in doing all the things that they're expected to do in ministry. Texting and social apps by themselves just don't cut it.

The fourth significant area is personal safety, security, and contingency planning. These things are not easy to think about from the United States perspective. However, they are really essential when you go to the field. People who have been raised in a suburban atmosphere in the United States need to learn some tools to help them with situational awareness that is street savvy and knowing something about personal safety and security, even of their stuff wherever they live.

Contingency planning has to do with how they react when bad things happen on the field, maybe they're robbed, maybe they're mugged, maybe they are confronted with an unusual situation of politics or rioting or social upheaval in a way where they have to actually leave their place in order to be safe. And then where do they go and what do they do and how long do they stay? Fortunately, in today's world of missions, there are some excellent training sequences specifically for those kinds of things. That is probably something that your church is going to want to outsource if the mission agency itself doesn't provide it or outsource it.

Also, there are a lot of other practical topics which probably should be touched on at least in the course of a year, including what missionary life and work is like on the field, the specific role of women, raising an education of children, the possibility of culture shock, and how would you even know that and what to do about it. Medical care on the field and personal healthcare, the role of the family in ministry on the field.

Eventually we trust the training of national leaders and the whole process of complete indigenization that is turning it over to the nationals. This course of study, whether it is the outline that I've just given you or some other outline that you come up with or you borrow from some other church, usually includes a lot of reading and reflection. So there are a number of books between 25 and 30 on my list for this one year course. That's a pretty rapid pace of digestion of new material and reading that has to be done.

Last but not least, is the field trip. Someone has to plan this thing pretty far in advance in order to make it all work. But the idea is to have a field trip that exposes the missionary candidate to as close as possible to the target area or people group that they want to go to. So coordinating with missionary workers on the field, figuring out how much it costs, how do you raise the funds for that, or how does the church help fund that? Who is going to be their guide and what experiences are you going to have on the field with respect to actually learning the things that they're going to do? And that is to see practicalities of life and work on the field, including the target culture, the target people, what are some of the impediments or oppositions to the gospel that may exist there.

Anything that they can do on that field trip that adds a three-dimensional aspect to their training and exposure and experience thus far is going to be a great asset to confirming their call and their direction for the future. As you can tell, this little summary is just the tip of the iceberg of ideas for you to implement in church-based training for your missionary candidate.

In the next few episodes of this series, we're going to talk about some additional preparation, but also some key factors in the missionary's heart as they prepare to go. The last few episodes of this series are going to deal with shepherding on the field and some additional field-based accountability and focus, as well as the partnership agreement between the church and the mission sending agency, so I hope you'll stick with us.

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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