Do you feel God’s call in your life to be a missionary? Have you considered where you should go to get the specialized training you need? One thing that is sorely lacking in many new missionaries’ lives is the training that they should have before embarking on their journey.
Here are a few different training schools and program suggestions for missionary training. There are also some general guidelines that will help you in choosing the right places to look.
I always recommend that people first talk with their pastor and let him know that they are considering missionary work. Your pastor will give you specific recommendations based on what he knows about your personality and character. Most pastors will be thrilled to know that God has called you into the ministry. However, some know that this means they will be losing a good worker in the church. Pastors know they should encourage you, but also be sympathetic that your announcement may be difficult for them at first.
Your pastor can tell you about Bible schools and training sessions you would need for missionary work. You pastor will probably recommend that you start by getting a Bible degree. This is important because it is the foundation for all Christian missionary endeavors.
Beyond Bible college, your pastor may not know about other missionary training schools that are available. I trust these suggestions will help you narrow your search as you prepare for the mission field.
Your pastor should help point you to a mission board that is in line with the doctrine and ministry philosophy of your church. Many mission boards will have some type of training program that they offer to their own missionaries.
As an example of in-house training, my mission board (Baptist International Outreach) has yearly training sessions with our missionaries who are still on deputation or home on furlough. Many of these sessions teach specifically about our board policies and operation procedures.
Alongside the in-house training our board does is a training program that is open to missionaries from like-minded boards. This is called our SMART program (Specialized Missionary And Resouce Training). Classes cover things like Outfit and Passage, Culture Shock, Personal Security and Personal Health Issues. These classes are offered as short modules so that you can commit a few days to training in a specialized area without tying up a whole semester or year at school.
Check with the mission boards your pastor recommends and see what type of training they can offer you.
Camp BIMI is one camping ministry I am familiar with that teaches 40 hours of classes in a single week on various missions topics. They are not there to twist anyone’s arm into becoming a missionary. In fact, many people who have attended Camp BIMI never become career missionaries. They find out while they are at camp that God has not called them into missions work. But they go away with the knowledge of how to better pray for missionaries.
Camp BIMI helps educate the attendees on some of the hardships of missionary life along with the wonderful blessings that comes from serving the Lord on the foreign field. Their goal is to prevent the missionary drop-outs and casualties.
While they call themselves a camp, it is not limited to young people. This ministry is open to anyone aged 16 and above. Talk with your pastor and see if Camp BIMI is a good option for you.
The vast majority of missionaries who go to a foreign country will need to get specialized language training. Many times this is done in the country the missionary will serve in, or in another country that speaks the same language.
Some language schools teach cultural issues too; but, unless the school specializes in training missionaries in cross-cultural ministry, the people teaching the classes probably don’t think much about the difficulties of living and working in a new culture.
There are some great programs for missionaries to get language training as well as other missionary specific training. One that I have been mostly interested in lately is the Baptist Bible Translators Institute in Texas. You don’t have to be a Bible translator to study language there. Instead of trying to teach every language, they have a phonetics-based program that teaches you how to acquire any language that you will encounter on the mission field.
This is another area where you should talk with your pastor and mission board to find out what their recommendations are. There are many different programs out there and you want to attend one that will best prepare you for your ministry and is in agreement with your sending pastor’s beliefs.
As mentioned before, you need to have good Bible knowledge to be a missionary. There are Bible colleges that have mission programs in them. Attending a Bible college to study missions will give you a good basis to get started, but they obviously can’t teach you everything there is to know about missionary life. You need to take the information that you can learn from them and supplement it with your own study and specialized training.
There are various pastor’s conferences and missionary retreats where you will receive encouragement in your missionary endeavors. Take advantage of these opportunities. Next month I am attending a missionary retreat where I expect to learn more about church planting methods that work and don’t work in various areas. These types of workshops or conferences usually focus on one particular facet of missionary work. Attend as many as you can while you are on deputation so that you can get a much broader understanding of how missions works.
Many missionary workshops and conferences are taught by veteran missionaries. Take time to get to know them. They may become your greatest counselors when you are stuck in a problem on the field where you need someone who understands the situation and can talk you through the mess you have probably brought upon yourself.
I hope these ideas have been a help as you think about missions.
Do you know of any missionary training opportunities that you would like to recommend? Leave a comment below so that other readers can benefit from our shared knowledge.