As a missionary I cannot stress enough the importance of getting the proper training before going to the field. I studied missions in Bible College and then went on to study missions on the field in Peru, South America under missionary Austin Gardner. It was during this time that I really gained insight and took on a philosophy of ministry that I still carry today. That philosophy is to focus on training leaders of leaders.
This training was priceless especially in hindsight. Really, I wish I would have listened more, stayed longer, and been a better observer of what was actually going on. I suppose I had too simple of a mind coming into this thing. I thought being a missionary or church planter or whatever you want to call it was a pretty simple job. I really didn’t give a whole lot of thought about the other things that I might have to deal with and work on as a missionary.
Here is a list of the “other things” that I would recommend you at least getting some experience in or knowledge of as you train for missionary service:
- Finances – Not just your own but church finances. Remember you are going to be planting churches (many). They most likely will know nothing of the financial matters of a church and will be looking to you for leadership. So what do you know? Have you gotten any training in this? Get with your pastor and whoever handles the financial matters of the church to find out how this stuff works so that you can train others to take care of this properly.
- Legal matters – I am not sure how much training you can get for this before you get to the field. But as much as possible you may want to find out what the laws of the country you are going to are concerning Christianity, holding religious services, and where it is legal to meet. How developed is the country you are praying about going to? What kind of codes and restrictions do they have on where a church can meet?
- Organization – Wow, this one is a killer. How good are you at organizing, planning and delegating. The people you are going to work with don’t know how church works. You have to show, tell, and empower them to do it. This takes organization. You have to be able to step back and assess what is lacking then give training to get it going in the right direction. Find someone who is a leader trainer to watch and imitate. Ask questions. How did the Sunday School get organized? Small groups? How did the teachers get trained? How does your church’s visitation program work? Faith Promise? How do you develop a church calendar?
The bottom line is that you need to get the best training you can – theological and practical. By practical I mean learning how to train leaders on the field and getting the answers you need to the questions you won’t hear in Bible college. Don’t take shortcuts. You are only hurting yourself in the end and it will lead to frustrations on the field.
Two Main Questions Left to Answer:
1. Are you pushing yourself theologically or are you just getting by?
2. What practical training are you getting?
Check out this school if you are serious about getting prepared. Our Generation Training Center