September 15, 2011

Crooked Fences...

On our way to work every morning we pass a curiously-installed fence.  You have to have things in life that just make you kind of giggle, and this fence does it for me.  I’ve not had any training in how to install fences, and so my ability to do so, no matter how good of a heart I have, would, I’m afraid, result in something that looks pretty similar, or even worse.  I’m thinking that nobody told the person who put the posts in that they probably should have done some good planning and gathered the appropriate tools before they began the job.  A simple internet search might have provided some training on effective use of a mason’s line to make sure the posts were all at the same level.  But then, it wouldn’t be any fun to drive by each morning.

Crooked fences aside, we have been so very impressed with the commitment of ReachGlobal, our sending agency, to properly train its staff.  They’re not training us to build fences, but rather to effectively navigate the ins and outs of missionary work and life.  With over four hundred missionary staff serving in more than thirty nations, there are many who come to ReachGlobal like us, who have little formal theological, missiological or cross-cultural education.  Our life-long ministry work suits the needs well for where we will serve, but we do lack other appropriate training for the work that is ahead of us. 

One of the guiding principles of ReachGlobal is that it is a ‘learning organization’.  Toward that end, they have created a virtual warehouse of resources that provides a go-to place for staff to find relevant and quality information that helps to facilitate training on a variety of subjects that will provide the means to not build ‘crooked fences’.

We had the opportunity to already take one of the online courses, Intentional Living, and really appreciated the tools and skills that we learned in order to be more effective in how we live our everyday lives.  It was a five week learning module that “teaches missionaries and those in ministry essential skills of self-management and strategic planning from a Christian perspective by highlighting four themes:  Guard Your Heart, Minister From Your Strengths, Figure Out Your Big Rocks, and Connect the Compass to the Clock”. 

Once we reach a certain percentage of committed monthly support and get within about six months of leaving for our ministry assignment in France, we will be enrolled in two sequential online classes called “Pre-field Training”, followed by an eight-day live event at the headquarters in Minnesota.   This training deals with tools for successful life and ministry in another culture, including segments on spiritual warfare, healthy team dynamics, effective communications, addressing poverty, the balance between compassion and proclamation ministries, evangelism, being coached, crisis management, discipleship, introductory missiology, and culture shock.  We appreciate the fact that ReachGlobal believes that missionary families are most successful and will be able to stay longer on the field if the entire family is adequately prepared.  Because of this, all our kids will join us for the portion of that training in MN.

We are flying to Minneapolis tonight to attend a weekend for missionary candidates designed to help in the process of raising both prayer and financial support.  We are excited about the great information and tools we will receive from this time with Dave Sherman from Stewardship Ambassadors.  We’ve been told that "Dave's philosophy on doing Ministry Partner Development is more about challenging others to be kingdom minded and to pray about how God might have them be good stewards, rather than doing ‘an ask’ for an amount of money or for financial support.  As the name of the organization says, it is about stewardship, not about raising financial support.”

We’re grateful that ReachGlobal takes seriously the need to train their staff properly.  We’re excited for what this weekend holds and for the ministry that will be enabled because of it. 

You can read more about some of ReachGlobal’s philosophy on being a Learning Organization, and a great paper on how they are all about Enhancing Missionary Training ThroughTechnology by clicking on the hyperlinks.

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