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Muddled Methods

Author: Swells in the Middle Kingdom
Date: 23.08.2010
Category: Integrity and Anti-Corruption, Resource Mobilization

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Originally Posted in English

From a blog previously posted at ChinaSource.

Short term, second career/retirees, non-resident, itinerant, indigenous, career... so many different ways and approaches for trying to bring transformation across cultural barriers. I certainly have opinions---very strong ones!---on which of these methods are most effective, and which cause more harm than good within my particular context. And I am well aware that these are contentious issues, producing very emotional responses and often conflict between brothers and sisters who whouls be working together.

But despite these disagreements---which in some cases are disagreements worth having---there is an area where we should be able to find agreement. Unfortunately, our passionate opinions cause us to lose sight of what should be common ground and to see only opposition. Because while we can argue extensively on how valuable or "strategic" each of the above ways of working cross-culturally may or may not be, we should all be able to agree on the strengths and limitations of each of these particular approaches.

For instance... Short-term and second career/retired workers are much less likely to attain linguistic fluency. This does not make them "worse" at ministry than others, but it does mean we should not put them in language-dependent or language-intensive ministry situations.

Likewise, career workers take immense time and training to produce---with many fields now calling for still longer and more focused periods of pre-field training. This doesn’t mean they are a "waste of resources", but it does mean that rapidly evolving plans should not be dependent on the rapid introduction of career workers. Financial costs, theological sophistication, cultural awareness, perceived local value---a whole host of important factors in effective field work all vary in ways that are fairly obvious for each of these different kinds of workers.

Rather than fighting about which one way is best or most harmful, we need to think carefully about what we are trying to do, and then choose the tools that work best. Matching our methods to our intended results is something we can all agree on, and it will produce happier workers and better results.

Keywords: mission, mission methods, short-term missions, non-resident missionary, second-career missionary, career missions, long-term missions

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