We have already shared a number of model local church missionary training programs through downloadable resources in earlier sections of this chapter on “Church Mobilization – Training”. More resources are available in this and other sections of the website. For more insights from the missionary candidate point of view go to Propempo.com’s “Missionary” path.
Two huge misconceptions create rose-colored lenses for missionary candidates and their church missions leadership. The first misconception is that a formal Bible training institution adequately fulfills missionary training requirements. The second misconception is that the missionary sending organization provides adequate screening and prefilled training for your missionary candidate or appointee.
Let’s think about how to overcome that first misconception. When we think about missionary qualifications, we should immediately go to the Bible for answers. Though our modern world has filled our minds with a wide variety of types of ministries and missionaries across a broad spectrum of opportunities in the world, including the very challenging environments of “creative access countries”, the Bible is our authority and basis for understanding what qualifies a Christian leader. The standards found in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are timeless. The basis for qualification in Christian ministry, including missionary workers, our spiritual maturity, blameless character, biblical conviction, and competence in personal ministry skills. None of those things are qualitatively addressed by a formal training institution. Academics are important. Formal Bible and theological training should be a part of the development of your missionary candidate. However, formal training is no substitute for long-term relationship and observation in the context of a strong local church. Only observant church leaders can affirm or verify a missionary candidates character in the community, practical application of biblical convictions, and competency in ministry skills through discipleship and experience. While formal training institutions supply a structured shortcut to needed educational training, apart from the local church they can never confirm a candidate’s fulfillment of biblical requirements for ministry leadership.
Let’s think about how to overcome that second misconception. Nearly every evangelical mission sending organization was founded with the intention of serving local churches with specific expertise and vision for world missions. Unfortunately, nearly every evangelical mission sending organization, over time, becomes an end unto itself. The mission agency culture has evolved to the point at which it really knows their candidates very little. They don’t have a particularly long term relationship with them; and, even then, the relationship is often conducted at a distance. Agencies are over dependent on third-party references and questionable screening tools to assess their much needed candidates. They have an unintentional drive for corporate growth and fulfillment of their independently derived vision for ministry. This conflict of interest situation persistently results in shortsightedness with respect to the true biblical qualifications of candidates. When presented with a candidate having passion and drive to get to the field, without confirmation of a loving and involved local church, the agency has little choice but to accept them and guide them toward arrival on the mission field. So, the mission sending organization may have internal screening and preparation requirements yet still have gaping holes in the bottom line biblical and practical training requirements for their candidates/appointees.
Your church’s diligence to guide and ensure the qualification and competence of your missionary candidate will be a huge blessing to the mission agency partner with which they serve. Typically, a church that prayerfully and carefully mentors their own missionary candidates produces missionaries who exceed the requirements and expectations of most sending organizations. The local church rarely has the resources to fulfill all the training requirements of a solid missionary candidate. So the church must rely on delegated external resources to fulfill those specialized roles and education. However, there is no substitute for the local church as the seedbed for producing biblically qualified missionary candidates and appointees.
BILD proprietary curriculum for church-based training (PDF 4.7M)
To Every Tribe missionary training curriculum (as an example of the scope of curriculum)
David Livingstone’s summary of missionary qualifications
Call to Ministry – the Sovereign Grace Ministries perspective
Process for Sending FBC MIssionaries
Missionary Candidate Evaluation – Singles
Missionary Candidate Evaluation – Marrieds
Missionary Candidate Evaluation materials packet
Missionary Training Class Syllabus, Faith Bible Church, 2008-2009