Topics to be covered
1) Spiritual Formation
Before someone can effectively communicate the Gospel to others, he must be able to understand the implications of the Gospel in his own life. Otherwise the missionary may be “selling” a product that he, himself, is not totally familiar with. This 3 to 5 day study of the Gospel will give a better grasp of what it really means to live in Christ.
2) Team Building
In order to be effective in ministry, one must be able to work together with others. These courses are designed to help one realize strengths and weaknesses – their own and others’ – and how to work together as a team. Can include the DISC personality test, which is a very helpful tool that is easy to understand. Resident trainers can also teach this through personal interaction and through intentional group activities.
3) Cross – Cultural Communication Issues
In order to bring good news to people of another culture we must understand their culture, their worldview, their religious background, or else we may not communicate with them as effectively as we think we are.
4) Phonetics and Linguistics
Our ability to speak their language well will show our hosts that we respect their language and culture. More than that, our success in another culture demands that we can converse in the language of the people. This one-week crash course works best when several first languages are present (mixed group).
5) Conflict Management
One of the biggest factors in premature departure from the field is the fact that most people do not know how to properly handle conflict. Some people are not even aware that there may be better ways of handling conflict than what they are used to doing. Even a one-day discussion of the various options will help the missionary to face conflict with grace and a focus on God’s glory.
6) Church Planting Strategies
Both church planters and tentmakers should know their role in church planting in a cross-cultural setting. There are many types of church planting strategies and an understanding of what the Lord is presently doing around the world will help missionaries to use the appropriate strategies to reach a wider group.
7) Life & Discipline of a Missionary
Missions is perhaps the hardest vocation a person could have. The differences in cultures combined with the stresses of learning a new language, added to personality differences and different views on how to do things… all add up to some major challenges faced by anyone in cross-cultural ministry. In order to be prepared to handle all this, the missionary trainee must be able to understand his surroundings, his role, his marching orders (i.e. what does God want him to be doing here.
8) Missions in the Market Place
More and more, missionaries have to go into other countries with a “platform”, (a reason for being there, other than spiritual, to satisfy the local government and residents). How does a “tentmaker” maintain the balance between “work” and “ministry”? What are some of the pitfalls to avoid? How can he maximize his time in another culture? These are just a few of the questions that must be asked, and answered, before the worker leaves his own country.
The way we learned “Christianity” is probably the way we will teach it to someone else. However, our own brand of Christianity is very different from how things were done in the New Testament. Do we understand how people of a different culture are viewing our Christianity? Do they understand the things that we deem important? Are those things important to them? Should they be important?
One must grapple with what is the best way to bring the Gospel into another culture. Contextualization deals with understanding how Scripture applied to the first church, how it is applied in our culture, and how it should be applied in another culture. There are dangers inherent in contextualizing our message, just as there are dangers in trying to plant churches “just like ours” in other cultures.
10) Tripartite Partnership (Missionary, Church & Agency)
Understand and improve relationships between the missionary, his church and mission agency. Avoid misunderstandings.
11) Major Religions
For someone to effectively communicate the Gospel in another culture, they should have at least some basic knowledge of what those people believe and what their rituals are. A survey of other major religions gives the trainee a springboard from which to dive into a more in-depth study of the ones related to the culture he / she is heading towards.
12) Spiritual Warfare & Intercessory Prayer
Most people living in the “modernized” world tend to lose sight of the fact that the Kingdom of Evil will confront any advancement of the Kingdom of God. While not everyone in missions is an expert in this area, the trainee must learn more about this so that he will at least be aware of what is happening around him and will know how to stand firm.
13) Spiritual Gifts
Recognizing one’s own Spiritual gifts, and those of one’s teammates, will strengthen the impact of any team. Tests are available to give trainees a fairly accurate idea of their gifting. When trainees can discuss what they are learning about gifts, they are more aware of each person’s unique contribution, as well as their own, to the welfare of the team. It may be best to talk about Spiritual Gifts towards the middle or end of the course. The reason for this is that trainees will know each other a bit better and can help reinforce the validity of test results. As well, the idea of working on a team is reinforced as they begin to see each other’s gifts being complimentary to their own.
14) Acculturation (includes Handling Stress, Stewardship)
When we move from one culture to another we are confronted with a myriad of changes, along with accompanying stresses. In order to effectively live and minister in that new culture we must learn to acculturate (to adjust and adapt to the new culture). Being aware of what is happening when we cross cultures helps us to understand the stresses that we will face and how we can effectively respond to them.
Often the missionary carries much more burden for the work than is healthy or necessary. Knowing how to determine and set personal boundaries can help a missionary avoid burnout and disillusionment.
16) Missionary Family Life
If time does not allow for a specific class on this topic, it is covered over the course time through personal interaction with the resident trainers. Articles from various books can be used to help the missionary trainees learn that life on the field is very different from life at home.