We need to think more carefully about some of the decisions and assumptions we make in missions including who we will or will not support and why. The truth is that many churches make some fairly irrational decisions in this regard, decisions which they would never apply to their own ministries.

Take for example support personnel who are not directly involved in evangelism or church planting but who support those who are on the front lines. There are many churches who will tell teachers, administrators, and other support personnel that they are not a priority because they are not doing direct "mission work."

Think about that! Without teachers mission families cannot live overseas. Without financial administrators, missionaries are distracted by all kinds of necessary financial oversight issues. Without people in communications the story of what is taking place on the field will not be told. Without IT personnel, technology becomes a barrier not a help. Without those who connect local churches with international opportunities in order to make the relationship helpful and healthy there is a net loss to both. Without specialized trainers to equip pastors, church planters and national missionaries there is not multiplication.

Any missionary will tell you that it takes a team to make their ministry possible. And, that when support personnel are absent, they are distracted in a major way from what they have been called to do. It is like assuming that a local church pastor will do all that needs to be done in administration and finance without help.

Another curious anomaly are churches who will not support someone who is a in leadership position, overseeing staff and personnel. Ironically, we would not consider not having leaders overseeing others in the local church or in business but somehow it makes sense in missions. 

It is these well trained leaders who develop new ministries, coach and mentor staff for greatest effectiveness, lead teams or leaders of teams and ensure that we are doing multiplication in missions rather than addition. As in any organization, the quality of leadership will determine the empowerment and effectiveness of staff so it is foolish to think leaders are somehow less important than other staff - but some missions committees have made that decision.

Think of your local church. How many people does it take to ensure that healthy ministry is taking place between pastors, support staff (full and part time) and volunteers? Why would it be any different in missions where the cross cultural work environment is far more complex than what we face in our own culture? 

What would your ministry look like if you only hired pastors and there were no support personnel (paid or volunteer?). Of course we would not and do not live that way here, so why would we apply a different thinking overseas where things are harder, take longer and are far more complicated than in our home culture?

Think about this: The mission I lead has almost 600 staff, hundreds of church partnerships in the United States, operates in over 75 countries and has around 100 national partners. It takes a significant, qualified and specialized staff including key support staff to do that well. It is a far more complex ministry than even a mega church in the United States. 

Please think carefully before your church makes policies or decisions that sound noble but would never work in our own culture let alone in a cross cultural situation.
  • Jul 02, 2012
  • Category: News
  • Comments: 0
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