Missionary Attrition (Dropouts)

Missionary Attrition

Missionary Attrition (Dropouts) is my thoughts on missionary dropouts. I saw an interesting article here, Dropouts-Burnouts-Forceouts-Never-Should-Have-Goneouts, which I will use as an introduction to my thoughts on the subject.

Missionary Attrition (Dropouts)

Introduction

Let me begin by saying that it is extremely expensive to get a missionary on the foreign mission field working. Besides the years of personal and educational preparation that the missionary himself has to shoulder, once he “officially begins deputation” the costs are shared or shouldered mainly by local churches and the people of God. This “business of missions” should first of all be understood to “NOT BE A SECULAR BUSINESS”. Although many aspects of missions is like a business (money funds the activity on the foreign field, there are workers, there is the acquisition of funds, fundraising, promotion, etc), the basic thrust of missions is spiritual, and cannot be reduced to simple business economics.

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Hardships of Missionary Life

Problems of Missionary Life

When a person chooses to be a missionary, there are certain sacrifices that they make in order to partake in this kind of ministry. Essentially you lose a lot of your “identity” to become a missionary. The simple question, “Where are you from?” becomes a complicated question because while I was born and raised in South Carolina, I have spent more time in Mexico than the US. Mexican people we visit. Sometimes they joke saying, “David is more Mexican than we are!” I have adapted to Mexican culture and foods, and I really like at least most of the Mexican foods.

But this price we pay is difficult to handle many times.  You kind of “lose your identity” in the process of being a good missionary. We must celebrate the Mexican holidays and basically follow the Mexican culture, because you just cannot survive without doing that. Image if a Mexican was to pastor your church and not celebrate the Fourth of July! He would be extremely out of sync with the people he is trying to reach.

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Missionary Problems: “I wish I had known how difficult long-term fruit really is.”

This post is my own response to an article in “Askamissionary.com”
What do Missionaries wish they had known before they first went?

“I wish I had known how difficult long-term fruit really is.”

To be truthful, long term results are very difficult to get.

I have been a pastor and missionary since 1986. Working with people is great. But when you have less than 10 years in working with a group of people, you see fruit. That fruit often disappears over longer time periods. What you thought were great, well-established Christians really weren’t.

I see the problem here in various forms. My observations come from years in the ministry, and from examining my own ministry and its results, as well as other people’s ministries. Some of my observations and comments are very simply my personal convictions. I have always done things like x-y-z, or I have never done things like that.

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Missionary Problems: “I wish I had known how difficult missions really is.”

This post is my own response to an article in “Askamissionary.com”
What do Missionaries wish they had known before they first went?

“I wish I had known how difficult missions really is.”

What my take on this is the following. First of all, missions is really nothing different (or shouldn’t be anything different) than what the regular ministry is in the United States. The only difference between church work in the US and on a foreign field is simply location. Having said that, there exists missionaries from other countries which go to foreign countries (to them), and some of these even go to the US. Again, church work is the same all over. What is different is the adjustments to culture and language that one has to contend with when going to a foreign place he is not used to. Missionary Kids (MKs) grow up on the foreign field, and they are automatically adjusted from birth, and make great missionaries.

The rub comes in at the point that ANY CHURCH WORK ANYWHERE is difficult. You should not underestimate the problems you will encounter as a missionary. I will put down some thoughts here. Most of these things any pastor in the US will understand. A few will be unique to the adjusting to a foreign church situation.

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