Short-term versus career, testing versus “letting the Lord lead,” missionary versus national, professional missionary versus self-supporting witnesses. How we recruit and use our human resources in missions today presents a complex picture.
While there is increasing cooperation in many areas, there is still fragmentation and duplication in much of what the evangelical churches are trying to do in missions. On the whole, however, the progressive spirit and innovation in many quarters give us a positive picture.
Missions are trying to come to grip with the world of Alvin Toffler—the world of transience and changing career structures. In addition to the cultural and moral revolution in North American society, the missions executive is faced with rapidly changing structures in the Church around the world: the emerging national church and its leadership role in planning, strategy, and implementation; the relation between missionaries and national leaders on the field; the changing composition of the missionary job market as generalists and a rural orientation give way to specialists and the reality of universal urbanism; the shift of money from denominational and more traditional organizations to new agencies, often independent in purpose and style.
How long the prospective candidate is going to serve is a question that is shaking the foundations of missions recruitment and management. The “new job every few years” mentality in North America flies directly in the face of the “commit your life to South America” view that was so typical of the past in missions. Short-term missionaries now take many forms. There is the student who goes for the summer, the professional who goes for a specific project, the person who signs a contract ...1
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