Every church may think a bit differently regarding staff qualifications. Often included, though unspoken perhaps, is formal training in an acceptable theological seminary. Though biblical and theological foundations are very, very important, that education by itself is not a guarantee that the candidate will be an effective missions pastor. Do the check on theological alignment and discernment! It’s a prerequisite! Then look at other attributes.
A missions pastor must first and foremost be passionate about missions. He must be well versed (no pun intended) in the biblical foundations and priority of missions. He must have missions in his blood, eat it for breakfast, breath it, ooze it, love it. He should have a missions-active mind, inquisitive about what God is doing around the world, seeing world news in light of God’s program for His glory in every nation. He should be culturally quick to learn and embrace new things, new foods, new vocabulary, new ways of thinking.
A missions pastor must love the local church. If he is not a churchman at heart, he will never really understand the priority and process of church planting in missions. He must understand the dynamic of working with and through people, flawed but redeemed people. He should be balanced in involvement in serving other areas besides missions. He should have a heart to disciple and encourage other church leaders in missions. He should view missions as something that the church does together, rather than what he does on behalf of the church. He is the prime missions mobilizer in his local church. He fulfills a pastoral role; that is to say that he is a shepherd of people. Great people skills, great communication skills, great teaching/discipleship skills — he’ll use all these qualities to the max.
A missions pastor needs to be a much better than average administrator. There are scores of relationships and communications, both inside and outside the church, that require a lot of attention to detail and management. He is mobilizing and working with people across a wide variety of ministries and experiences. Events, travel arrangements, logistics of short term missions teams, meetings, training classes, financial tracking and accountability – all these and more are a part of his day-to-day job. There is no pastor who has a broader range of administrative application than the missions pastor.
A missions pastor must be a discerning, avid learner. There is a world (no pun intended) of information and trends out there. The missions pastor needs to stay as current as possible with the good, the bad, and the ugly of missions. He needs to be the resident expert on missions questions, even if the church isn’t presently connected to some trend at the time. He needs to have a humble, teachable spirit, in order to learn from missionaries and mission leaders, and to adopt that childlike learning posture to appreciate the cultural, linguistic, and spiritual environments of the church’s workers on the field.
A missions pastor should be able and willing to travel to fulfill his shepherding and guidance responsibilities of the church’s supporting mission family. He should exhibit a willingness to travel at low cost and to stay in spartan accommodations or homes along the way. This aspect requires that the interview process needs to examine the wife and family dynamic to determine if there is sufficient support and strength for him to be away from home for frequent and/or extended periods of time. You don’t want to hire someone as missions pastor and then have to make the difficult choice of harming his marriage and family or failing to do all that he should do to fulfill his responsibilities.