In my previous Heart and How To of Missionary Assessment I mentioned five types of critical assessment that are needed for missionaries and church planters:
- personal assessment – self evaluation of what God is doing
- local church assessment – the evaluation of church leaders who have observed the candidate in both personal and ministry contexts
- mission agency assessment – that’s what we do
- on-field assessment – the integration of personality, pre-field assessment and on-field performance
- home assignment assessment – evaluation, debriefing and re-assessment after the field experience to determine what changes need to be made and what tools need to be added
Think of assessment as a fireworks show. There is one show with different fireworks. Each firework is unique with its special display of color and sound. Each firework can be exploded individually or in conjunction with others for a desired effect.
And yet, the fireworks aren’t the big show. The big show is whatever we are celebrating, 4th of July, or whatever. So with missionary assessment, each step of the process is unique and stands on its own, while the combined assessments point to the potential ability and impact of the missionary.
Today, I’m tackling the personal and local church assessment pieces. Before a missionary hits the field or a church planter the cafe, he or she needs to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is calling and that call needs to be affirmed by church leaders.
Personal Self-Assessment Determines What God Is Doing in Your Life
Honestly, who better to determine what God is doing in your life than you? You are the one:
- hearing God’s voice.
- putting in the time and effort to be obedient to God.
- allowing God to use your sin, shortcoming and failures to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ.
- taking personal risks in your family, work and personal life to keep priorities in check.
- blessing those around you with the gifts and experiences God has given for his glory.
Honestly, if these five points are not your experience, then you need some more seasoning before starting a church or moving to another culture. Is God in it?
Local Church Assessment Affirms God’s Call for the Missionary Church Planter
The heart of local church assessment affirms the call of God on your life. Pastors, elders and others the candidate serves with see the real life of the candidate – or they should. Church leaders should be able to observe:
- spiritual gifts
- spiritual maturity
- interpersonal skills
- conflict resolution
- biblical understanding
- ability to think and feel and reason under pressure
- sense of call to ministry
This list is not exhaustive. The point is that before I interview a missionary candidate I want to see a pastor’s reference first. If the pastor cannot recommend this person for cross-cultural service, then why would I? A few exceptions may exist in extreme cases, but the local church is the key piece in missionary assessment.