Photo credit: rockcitywellness
In contemplating vocational cross-cultural ministry service, a few questions will help in assessing the prerequisites a person will need for that service. The following list is certainly not exhaustive, but it will aid in heading the right direction.
1. Can I articulate my conversion experience?
Do I have the ability to share a concise and understandable experience of needing Jesus, finding Jesus and the change it has brought into my life? Furthermore, do I have a one minute, two minute, ten minute and thirty minute version? There will be appropriate settings and age groups that will require applicable explanantions.
2. Do I have a clear calling and passion?
Strong headwinds are ahead - and only when a personal conviction of being in the right place is present will a person endure. As has been said: It is not by sheer force that the river shaped the rock, but by endurance.
3. Am I prepared to suffer emotionally?
There will be times that things will be said or unsaid that will cause your heart to break - are you ready for those times? A high rate of missionary failure is due to emotional "deal breakers". I describe those things as: I'm ready for anything, but not at the expense of my spouse, my children, etc. Where is your "line in the sand"? You will be sorely pushed to your limits. One colleague states that it broke him to see his wife laying on the bed weeping as she struggled with cultural tension. Fortunately, this colleague endured and enjoys ministry traction and a great marriage. Both spouses are shining examples.
4. Can my family endure the strains of relational tension?
Facebook and social media is a blessing and curse. A person can be anywhere in the world and stay connected. The drawback? You see what you are missing, and follow the friends that are so happy, while you do without. This can cause real tension. I missed the wedding of my kid sister, when travel was too expensive to allow participation. Such events can bring relational tension to families and once-close friendship networks.
5. Do I have cross-cultural training?
It is a misunderstanding to state: People all over the world are the same... While people have the same value, worldviews and cultural differences shape us. Communicating over this chasm brings challenges. Take a course and follow some YouTube lectures.
6. Am I teachable?
Do I generally have a spirit open to learn, or does passion cloud my vision to think that desire alone is enough to figure it out? A person simply does not know, what he does not know. Allow others to speak into your life and humbly process that information.
7. Do I handle conflict and conflict resolution well?
Premarital questionnaires have enabled some ministries to accurately determine in advance whether potential partnerships will survive - based on the skill of handling discord. Do you show disrespect, when rebuffed? That is out of bounds, to use a sports metaphor. Can you reconcile following tension?
8. Am I prepared to sacrifice financially for the cause of evangelism?
The ministry is not a get-rich quick scheme, not an opportunity for enrichment. You will find opportunities outpace your ability to fund them. Does your personal budgeting and savings plan allow you to push all in on those occasions? Multiple times in our ministry we took our meager retirement savings and leveraged evangelistic opportunities. Looking back, I do not regret those carefully thought out decisions.
9. Do I passionately follow Jesus?
Do I daily seek his presence? What have you been discussing lately with him? This is not a question of lesson planning, but of personal growth in him.
10. Do I humbly show integrity in communication?
Surprisingly missionaries have a track record of shading truth and hiding details. God only blesses truth, but sometimes the desire to be liked by peers or supporters will motivate people to say things that are simply untrue. This will be a relational deal breaker for people and limit useful ministry impact.
What questions should be added to the list?