Authority endorsements

One of the strong points of persuasion is authority endorsements. This is when somebody who has some kind of authority or familiarity with a person, product, or service endorses that thing/person. From research, it is found that even if the person has personal benefits from the endorsement, it still helps persuade people when they hear the endorsement.

For example, when some football sports jock endorses a tennis shoe, everybody knows that he receives millions probably for the commercial endorsement. But none-the-less, many people will buy the product because they saw him endorse it. Even actors that nobody knows endorse products, and we understand that these are not “free-will” endorsements, but paid, and that most of the times, the actor or person talking has never even used that particular product before the day of filming.

In missionary presentations, it helps tremendously when there are people out there endorsing the missionary and his ministry. For a good example of this, see Bauman’s presentation, at about minute 3:30

Note in the Bauman presentation endorsement by his pastor, that the pastor recounted activities where both Bauman and his wife faithfully served in that church. We presume that all missionaries could find pastors to say the same thing about them. But the point is that putting it before the audience gives them reassurance that these are people worth investing your time, energy, and resources in. They are good. They are faithful. Bauman’s home church pastor endorsing them is a very strong positive point in the presentation.

When a missionary goes out, his supporters don’t want to see him as being isolated and alone. One of the reasons why “mission boards” “caught on” in yesteryear is because it gave the missionary minister a sense of have an endorsement from some greater authority. This is good in a sense, but (in my opinion), mission boards have let missions go into disarray, letting support levels go way too high, opening the door for false prophets to come in and ruin missions in general. Moreover the mission board’s judgment has come into question so many times in so many completely different groups and situations, that they just are not wise. Anybody can see that the actions of the mission boards are way too off base to be God’s will. This causes chaos on the field, and back at home among a missionary’s supporters.

Missionaries have problems, and sometimes missionaries have grave problems, and these are difficult to remedy. Often the only remedy is for the individuals involved to get out of missions. Authority figures “prove” themselves when these situations happen, and how they defend the innocent, help the hurting, and patch up the wounded. Mission boards in general do none of that. They oppress the innocent, kill the wounded, and either hurt further all those already hurting or ignore everything and sweep things under the rug. This has been my constant observation over 30 years of being a missionary, both with the mission board I was with, and other missionaries and their boards. That is why from the late 90s on, so many missionaries left mission boards and went out under local churches.

To be more specific, there are certain obligations that come with being an authority figure, especial those that are mission boards, and responsible for missionaries. I will take a moment and delineate these.

Prevention – The first thing in prevention is to keep bad people out of missions, both missionaries and in the mission board home office. Hot heads in the home office that are more wanting to pin a condemnation on somebody when anyway bad happens are the ruin of modern missions. If there are not level-headed, soft spoken, easy going people to answer the phone when a missionary has to call the board and tell them of something happening, then the missionary will not reveal until the situation is beyond helping. If he doesn’t have a “best friend” sitting beyond the director’s desk, then he is alone and usually going will be rough.

Another flat error in mission boards is letting missionaries go out that are unprepared spiritually for the job at hand. It has been my experience that mission boards are so far out in left field as far as real church work goes, that they are useless in most missions situations and problems. I see the offices of mission boards filled with ex-missionaries who couldn’t make on the field, so they gave up, and because they were somebody’s favorite dog, they got a choice bone in the mission board. People who direct missions need to be people who know the ends and outs of both church work in general, and missions specifically. A sitting pastor of a local church always seems more kind and understanding to a missionary with a problem than any 100 mission board office employees. That is just the facts as I see them, so sorry. There is not sympathy, nor feeling of pain with these people when a missionary has a problem. All the mission board office people fall either into “you have leprosy” (the majority of the underlings) or “I am furious with you” (the leaders). Nobody wants to understand anything.

If a mission board would do its work, then it would actually visit and get to know personally every one of their missionaries, and there would be “friendship-chatter” on a weekly or bi-weekly basis that would alert the board to potential problems. Prevention would also come in on their part as far as family disputes, co-worker problems, sickness problems and continuing on even with them. These kinds of things are needed in the mission board’s meetings with their missionaries, but from what I saw, mostly it was pep talks that had little basis in reality. Mission boards send out missionaries all over the world to head up God’s work around the world, yet they are scared to death to let these men of God speak in their own internal meetings?!?! Why? Never could figure that one out. When I was in candidate school at my mission, it was beyond me why they put in a “golden boy” preacher with few years of experience even in the US (of pastoring or starting a mission work), and they let veteran missionaries of 30-40 years service sit quietly and just listen. It doesn’t make sense. And that is why mission boards are no good. They represent a spiritual mafia system, of the ins and the outs. We don’t need that. We need wisdom from wise, experienced missionaries. Good luck on finding that in any mission board.

So to head off potential problems, (1) the mission board does not foresee them coming, (2) when they are here, they cannot recognize what the real problem is, nor where and with whom it is, and (3) they are clueless about solving things. This stigma has tainted their “authority” so greatly that they are loosing all consideration “AS BEING ANY KIND OF AUTHORITY”.

Problem solving – While the mission board toots its own horn that it is responsible for the missionaries, they do not take responsibility when problems arise. I have seen many a missionary ministry destroyed by fornication, addictions, and false doctrines. These happened both in our mission group and outside. The classic knee-jerk response is “you’re fired, get out”. Okay, I agree that the minister has totally invalidated his credibility as a minister of the gospel when these things happen. But the mission board’s response is likewise not any good.

Consider first of all, that the missionary is a sinner, but probably a saved person who has fallen into sin. 1) What about restoration? What about repentance? Do we not care about obeying God in these matters? That he continues on in his ministry, well, he himself ruined that, but goodness sake, it will not kill anybody to continue his support and health insurance a couple of two or three months until he can make other arrangements and get off the field. Then there is his family. His wife and kids. While they are colateral damage here, most probably they are not so guilty as the missionary himself. What does the board do about them? Usually nothing, they are out also. A responsible authority will see that they get home to the states and settled somewhere where recooperation can happen, in some pastor’s care. If the mission board is really responsible, they will undertake the economic expenses as well as finding and having pre-arranged places for these people to exit gracefully from the ministry. In the case of fornication, the damage in the marriage needs to be addressed, and this has to happen under some spiritual caretaker, a good pastor good at counseling. Why don’t mission boards take some of their advertising budget and help these ex-employees recouperate.

Without releasing the missionary from all his responsibility in any such problem, we are at spiritual warfare, and these kinds of “falling” can be expected from our enemy. It is not like you have to really look hard to fall as a minister of God, Satan sends plenty your way all the time, and very intensely. Where was the mission board’s preventive efforts? You see nothing in the mission’s literature sent to the missionary or pre-field counseling and instruction sessions that would have helped the missionary in any way. Fool me once, that is my fault. Fool me twice and I am the fool. With so many of these cases happening, why can’t the mission board “head these problems off”? I mean their are experts, and they (1) cannot detect and keep spiritually weak ministers out of their group, and (2) they cannot defend these ministers that they have. I mean, where is prayer in all of this? What happened to praying consistently and constantly for your servants? There is no emphasis on this at all. With Skype, why cannot the director of a mission board Skype with each of their missionaries once a week or once a month, chat with them, and then pray a half hour with them? Because the director is too busy directing? Go figure. Leaders lead by their contact and example, and if missionaries actually felt that spirituality personally, and saw something worth imitating, maybe they wouldn’t fall in the first place.

Misfiring – I don’t really know how to describe or label this one, but I guess misfiring is the best I can get. This happens when something happens, and it isn’t really a great big problem, but somebody at the mission board back home finds out, and makes a mountain out of a molehill. Most mission board executives are so insecure and self-centered that they need to “validate their authority”. What they do is look for something to get on somebody’s case about, and yell and scream. This is because as caretakers of God’s ministers, they are false prophets. Evil pastors that startle, scare, and scatter the sheep under their care. The Lord through the prophet Ezekiel condemns these as abusers of God’s flock. I have seen this happen so many times, and I have personally been on the receiving end of this that I quite frankly cannot believe I endured it.

Church Authority

On the other hand, pastors as representing church authority has a much greater force in our day. This is because pastors are usually more caring and understanding, and even when they have to “come down hard” on somebody, they still have a family vision that rebukes but doesn’t kill those involved. They usually don’t have personal authority issues that they are contending with, so they are not looking for whipping boys.

Getting back to missionary presentations, a church endorsement by a pastor is an excellent element for a missionary presentation.