Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Missionary Call - from a Member Care Perspective PART VIII - FINAL PART, Suggestions for Best Practice

Suggestions for Best Practice

Sending agencies should utilize the missionary call as a close ally and friend. From the very beginning of the screening process the missionary call has immense member care implications.

Here are a few suggestions for best practice.

First, the missionary call is powerful. Most definitions of the missionary call use the adjectives “intense” or “passionate” in their attempts to show the power that this call has upon a person’s life. This intensity should not be discouraged. It is a wind to fill the sails of the missionary embarking towards the Nations.

Second, remember that the missionary call is not merely a solitary call. It involves the larger body of Christ. The best verification of the missionary call is not a mystical feeling, but is a desire that follows the Word of God and is seconded by the larger body of Christ. Gung-ho missionary candidates, lest they “run without being sent” should be patient and heed this advice, “Be open to take time to let others be convinced of [your] call.”

Third, there is no real conflict regarding the missionary call and aggressive recruiting. Agencies and mission boards should continue to aggressively recruit candidates, even while being willing to exercise due caution so that those sent by the agency are those sent by God. Churches who have an infectious passion for missions and pastors who closely mentor and disciple their people may be the means by which the Lord implants a growing call into their people. Churches that give opportunities to exercise spiritual gifts and confirm those gifts empower their people to further explore what God may be calling them into.

Fourth, note that the missionary call plays a vital role not only in recruiting missionaries, but in screening candidates as well. If a candidate lacks a clear sense of call, or if this call is not seconded and confirmed by the larger body of Christ, agencies should take note and exercise caution. One of the largest reasons for negative missionary attrition is a “lack of call.” The solution is to screen more carefully to determine the presence of this sustaining ingredient from the very beginning.

Fifth, organizations should “test the call” through various internship programs, training programs, camps, and candidate schools. A missionary call will not only last through stress and hardship; it will make the candidate last through stress and hardship. Though hard to define and far from objective and measurable, one way in which organizations can screen candidates for this missionary call is to allow a testing period and to provide a testing program. Such testing is a very positive thing and should be encouraged and not merely seen as a trap to “weed people out.” It is, instead, a tool of stewardship used by the larger body of Christ to bless a candidate by helping them discern God’s will.

Sixth, the missionary call is one of the most powerful forces in retaining missionaries on the field. When times get tough, having a clear call is sometimes all that retains missionaries in some settings. When positive results and ministry fruits do not occur, the call is a powerful motivator for perseverance. When money fails, health fails and relationships fail, a missionary driven by a strong sense of call can endure until better days come.

Many missionaries have reported over a decade of wearisome labor before God finally converts the first soul in their people-group, and some labor even longer. A sense of strong and clear calling provides the missionary with persevering strength. It communicates, “God is the one that has called me here. I will stay and persevere because I am exactly where He would have me.”

Also, when a missionary possesses a clear call this is usually seconded by a multitude of other voices, such as friends, home church, and agency. All of these parties affirm the missionary’s call and can act as invaluable sources of social support from which the hurting missionary can draw strength. Agencies and churches should utilize the missionary call as a tool in counseling. Counselors can affirm the call and encourage perseverance by reminding the missionary, “Even though things are rough right now, we are confident that God has brought you here and will sustain you in your God-ordained work; we are behind you!”

The missionary call gives tenacity and perseverance in the midst of trials. There is an inverse relationship between a clear missionary call and attrition and those missionaries who have a clear call have lower rates of attrition.

The analogy comparing the missionary call to a wind that fills the sails of the missionary has already been given. This divine wind fills the sails and propels the missionary across cultures. Also, in times of trouble, consider this analogy. The power of the missionary call as an anchor that fixes the missionary’s vessel in place when adverse winds blow. The call not only moves the missionary into service, but it fixes the missionary in place once they arrive at their God-ordained destination.


Despite many differences regarding its exact nature, the missionary call is real and does, in fact, exist. This call is of vital importance related to issues of member care. Finally, this missionary call can be a vital ally that can be utilized in gaining quality missionaries and retaining them. Those focusing on the care of missionaries would do well to adapt their procedures to take full advantage of this ally. Let us give the missionary call its due place of honor. 

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