Dear Jack, My husband is on a trip visiting missionaries in the region we feel called to. Could you give some ideas as to what questions we should be asking the missionary teams to help us gain an understanding of the field?
First of all, Judy, I would encourage you to do as much background reading as possible, though this suggestion may come a bit late if your husband is already there! But even noting what you can find in Operation World (Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk) would be helpful.
1) Who pioneering the work in this country / region? Something of the history of the mission.
2) What was the missionary strategy / philosophy of the founders? How has this been changed by those in leadership at this time?
3) If we used the following four descriptors to describe the relationship of the missionaries with the national church, which one would be most apt at the present time: pioneer, paternal, partner, participant?
4) What provision is made for developing national leaders?
5) How important are the three values of developing a church that is: Self-governing, self-propagating, and self-supporting seen in the activities of the missionaries?
6) How are the missionaries avoiding paternalism and the creation of dependence? Are they creating institutions with foreign funds that in the future the church won’t be able to sustain?
7) Is the church growing? Where, among whom, how? How do the statistics on church growth in this mission compare with church growth in other missions in similar areas? What does this analysis teach you?
8) What are the greatest problems the missionaries face?
9) What are the missionaries doing that the nationals could be doing?
10) Does the church established by the missionaries “fit into” the feel of national culture or seem “quite foreign” to the nationals, perhaps reflecting cultural values the missionaries brought with them?
11) What encourages the missionaries? Discourages them?
12) What are the greatest problems both missionaries and church leaders face? …the greatest sense of joy and fulfillment?
13) How do the missionaries get along with each other? Do they pray together on a regular basis?
14) What is the relationship between missionaries of this agency and missionaries of other agencies?
15) How do the missionaries educate their children?
16) What is the policy of the mission regarding the role of mothers? Priority, their children? Priority, their work?
17) What are the missionaries reading?
18) Would you enjoy working with these missionaries? With the nationals? Why? Why not?
If at all possible, it would be good to talk with any English speaking recognized national leaders alone and get their take on some of the same questions.
Well, not knowing anything about the area you are interested in, this is about the best I can do.
May the Lord guide you both.