Dear Jack,From your experience, how should the profile of a missionary candidate? If a church is to send a missionary out to the world, what should be required of him?At my church, we are trying to develop a process by which anyone interested or called to missions can go through in order to be prepared for the mission field.But I am having trouble balancing from being too strict and wanting the "perfect" candidate, timing, etc., and being too loose.Rodrigo
Good question, Rodrigo. Here are some suggestions:
1) Missionary Call: The candidate should be able to articulate how he or she received a call to missionary service. The responses will be different (and should be) but it is important that there be a clear cut sense that the individual is involved in pursuing a missionary vocation because God has called him or her. This should include what they feel called to DO; what they would like to accomplish on the mission field.
2) Preparation: It’s important that the missionary candidate be prepared spiritually, academically, and functionally.
a. Spiritually: I think that a missionary candidate should be able to describe how he or she came to know Jesus and the patterns they have put in place to grow spiritually, such as time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study, fellowship with other believers, participation in ministry, etc.
b. Academically: In exploring what the candidate would like to accomplish, you would want to review their professional preparation for this task. Regardless of what activity they plan to carry out, I would recommend that they have at least 2 years of Bible or Theological school, to cover basic disciplines such as courses in Old and New Testament, Evangelism, Theology, Missions, Church History, Anthropology, etc. It would be good to have your pastor prepare a simple questionnaire which would cover basic theological themes for them to fill out in ample essays.
c. Vocationally: Whatever the candidate plans to do, my expectation would be that they would have training and experience in the following areas:
i. How to lead someone to Christ.
ii. How to give their own personal testimony in a clear, helpful way.
iii. How to help a new Christian grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.
iv. How to lead an inductive Bible Study.
I would assign the candidate readings on the place they plan to go and organize an interchange with someone who has an in-depth knowledge of the country.
3) Involvement in the Congregation: Since the congregation will be sending out this person, I would require that the individual have been part of the community for some time and have participated in leadership of one kind or another, including faithful participation in whatever mission activities you may have. I would suggest that every missionary leaving the church be required to have developed a small group committed to pray for him or her. Members of this group can be his or her “champions,” promoting their activities and needs while away. It would be helpful to review with the candidate the missionary prayer letters that have been most helpful to members of the congregation.
The above could be a starter. One question I have, Rodrigo, is why the church has decided to unilaterally send out its own missionaries rather than send them through a missionary agency? I know that many churches want to have close contact with their missionaries, rather than “sharing them” with other congregations. However, mission agencies have long years of history deploying and caring for their missionaries. They know about the local issues, have developed careful member care, and are old hands at dealing with the question you asked me, for example. I’m sure you all have their reasons, but it would be helpful for me to know some of them.
Blessings on you. I applaud you all for your desire to promote the spreading of the Gospel and nourishing of the Church around the world.
In His Grace,