Two members of a selection committee were talking

Paul: So what do you think of our preferred candidates?

Alan: Well they seemed to have the right qualifications and experience for the job.

Paul: And they were both very insistent how good they would be in the role.

Alan: You sound as if you thought they tried too hard to sell themselves.

Paul: I was reflecting on the contrast with the missionary candidates we interviewed last week. Our candidates today was very full of themselves, but the ones last week seemed much more humble and reliant on God.

Alan: Yes I see what you mean, but aren’t there different criteria? With our man today we wanted to be sure that he can do a job well, but we want the missionaries to be called of God and spiritually fitted for the work they are going to.  Also, of course, this is a paid employment and the missionaries will have to raise their own support.

Paul: But putting it like that, Alan, would seem to suggest that spirituality is not important in our functional roles and that we don’t look to God to call people into such jobs. And conversely that we only look for spirituality and not ability in our missionaries.

Alan: I do think that the employment can be regarded as just another job if we are not careful, but I believe the majority of our employees do see that this is their way of being involved in God’s mission. How they are financed is not the vital issue.

Paul: I wonder whether all our missionaries see it the same way when they know that a percentage of their support monies go into salaries. If their support falls off they have to cease their ministry, but the paid staff are on contracts.

Alan: Have you noticed any areas of tension between supported and paid staff?

Paul:  It does arise from time to time particularly when someone has to come home or when we make a senior position a paid appointment with a higher salary. Most missionaries did not know that when we had Fred as our accountant, on a substantial salary, he was not only earning a lot less than he had previously, but he tithed and gifted aided money back into the agency. He also got his church to support us, which continued after he retired and was transferred to one of our under-supported missionary couples.

Alan: That was some years ago and I am not sure that any of our present employees are acting similarly.  I think I might contact Fred’s widow to ask whether we could publicise that story to our current staff and missionaries.

Paul: Good idea. And what about today’s candidates?

Alan: Let’s interview again the ones we thought appointable and this time try and discover a bit more about their spiritual lives and how servant-hearted they really are. After all we have said that an active faith is a requirement for the post so we ought to ask some questions about it.

Paul: And perhaps we need to probe a bit more how competent our missionary candidates are for the ministries they are expecting to take up.


Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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Ray Porter

Ray Porter

Chair of Global Connections Board
Ray retired from full time lecturing in 2013 and his main Oak Hill roles are now in supervising dissertations and keeping an eye on some aspects of the Theology for Crossing Cultures course. Ray's major ministries have been in two blocks of 14 years with OMF: one in Indonesia where he pastored and established churches, and the other as a regional director in the UK where he recruited and encouraged missionaries and mission support. Shorter slots have been as minister of a UK church and as New Testament lecturer at Belfast Bible College.
Ray Porter

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Posted in Evangelism, Finance, Governance, Mission.

One Comment

  1. Dear Ray
    Very nicely put. I have known people who have struggled with this issue. Also, with churches who in practice act in the same way, treating paid staff and sent missionaries rather differently. A related issue is that missions tend to look at married couple together whereas churches tend to appoint one to a position and presume that the spouse will fulfil an unspecified but largely expected support role for free.

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