What kind of people do we need in M work?
Recently I had sent out a brief questionnaire in order to get feedback on recruiting and preparing the “right” kind of people for M ministries. Of the 240 people on the list I received back 30 responses, i.e. 11 from minority M countries, 5 from M and C balanced ones and 14 from Majority M countries. Although mainly workers from Western background responded, there were a few from Africa, Asian and Latin American background as well.
For the main challenges there was an inadequate response of the Church mentioned, such as lack of workers, finances, appropriate methods, language, proper witness, M friendly material, as well as cultural issues and fear or retaliation. On the side of resistance by Ms militant and political Islam, persecution, lack of understanding and exposure to the Gospel were mentioned. Some of the main strategic needs included church planters, media experts, mobilisers and trainers, holistic ministry workers as well as those in tentmaking.
The main focus of the survey gathered information about what kind of workers are needed in the area of character, skills and knowledge. Character trait No 1 is patience and perseverance, followed by moral purity, integrity and faithfulness. Workers need to love Ms, have compassion, are flexible and willing to change, humble servants and learners, generous, creative, have humour and do actually pray. Some of the skills needed are good listening, asking questions, and presenting the Gospel clearly. They should have ability to learn another language, adapt to a new culture, have relationship skills, a good marriage, experience in ministry and skills in evangelism and discipleship. The knowledge areas mentioned were Bible and Gospel as the main one, followed by knowledge on Islam and Qur’an, what material is available, what kind of approaches exist and general information about the culture and country of service. A big affirmation was mentioned in the area of calling: M workers need to have a long term ministry calling, for some even specifically to Ms. Flexibility to follow God’s guidance is needed as to where to go for most, while some mentioned passion, conviction and risk-taking as further elements of a calling that will not put forth one’s own glory.
A lot of preparation can be done already at home: reading books, watching Battle for the Hearts DVD set, attending training seminars, connecting with Ms already in mosques and homes, praying for them (30 Days Prayer) and many more things. There is difference in how much should be learnt before coming to the field – some would rather have extensive studies, others prefer to have them learn on the field. In any case, a strong support team (finances and prayer) is absolutely essential.
As I reflected on these issues I found that different tasks and different methods being used demand flexibility, team spirit, networking and an openness to ongoing evaluation. We are not the same, have different personalities and talents and thus should not easily judge each other. The Church exists everywhere and therefore we need to learn from our brothers and sisters in the respective countries, from the more experienced colleagues and try to work together. A new generation of workers will and should try out new things with discernment and good interaction with the former one.
Good communication is important to recruit the right person for the right task, to help them find their niche, train and continue to mentor them. No one person can do this. We must recruit quality people to reach the M unreached people groups – too many are still waiting to hear the Gospel in appropriate ways. (SH)