Pre-field training is too good to be restricted to new missionaries

The SEND summer 2010 Candidate Orientation Program (COP) and Member Orientation Program (MOP) are now history, and after 7 weeks in North America, we are now back in Kiev, Ukraine.   While in Michigan at our international office where the training programs were hosted, I enjoyed getting to know two great groups of new SEND missionaries in these 2 pre-field programs.  (To see more pictures: COP and MOP).  My primary purpose in attending COP and MOP was to better understand what we are teaching to new missionaries, and to look for ways that the two programs might be overlapping or missing some significant areas of necessary training. 

   

Although I had a few recommendations for both programs, my impressions were overwhelmingly positive.  The content of the training is significantly different from what I received 25 years ago, and understandably so because the context of the North American churches has also changed, and so has the options available for communication.   But I think the quality of the training has also significantly improved since I went through COP in 1985 (no MOP back then).  I realized that some of this pre-field training is just too good to be restricted to new appointees.   For example, I think many of us missionaries would really benefit by sitting down with someone from the SEND media department and discussing how we can improve our newsletters. In fact, if you struggle to communicate effectively and regularly with your donors and prayer partners, why don’t you make spending some time with the media department as one of your home service objectives? Take along some recent issues of your newsletter and ask them to give you some suggestions for how you can communicate more effectively. I know they will be kind – and helpful.

I also appreciated our International Director’s presentation on the “Journey to Jesus,” as he talked about SEND’s mission to engage the unreached.  Based on the book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, Warren outlined the five thresholds that a postmodern person (i.e. most Europeans) needs to cross, and what we as missionaries can do to help them cross each threshold. Excellent stuff, and I am sure the book would be a great read as well.  Warren’s handout is (available on the SEND U wiki).


I also want to highlight the first-ever online training module being offered by SEND U in September.   With the help of our good friends at EFCA EQUIP, I have been developing this online training module over the last several months.  From September 13 to October 10 this fall, I will be facilitating a 4-week training course (plus an introductory week about online learning) for SEND team leaders that I hope will become a foundational course for our SEND Team Leader Training Curriculum.   SEND Team Leader Orientation explores what it means to be an effective team leader with SEND International.   When this course is concluded, participants will better understand their role and responsibilities as a team leader.  They will also gain some direction and a plan for how to develop their capacity and skills as a team leader.  I have designed the course to be very practical, and the assignments are focused on creating plans for and addressing problems in real life and ministry as a team leader.

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