Friday, April 2

What is a missionary supposed to look like today under the new IMB changes?

My previous post describes what a mature disciple of Christ looks like. The author's point is that if we are to be out there "making disciples" we certainly ought to know what one is supposed to look like!

After reading I started wondering what the ideal IMB missionary is supposed to look like these days? With all the new changes being implemented, I confess I am not sure what is being expected. What qualities and characteristics define the kind of missionary needed today?

Back in the late '90's as the IMB's "New Directions" was just getting underway, I remember David Watson being invited to Ecuador to speak to the missionaries about church planting movements he was involved with. What he shared back then was so far removed from our frames of reference that it was hard to take him seriously. Were we being expected to do in Ecuador what David was experiencing in Asia? Most of us could not imagine such a thing, yet this seemed to be the model we were being expected to contextualize in our Latin America setting. At least we had some kind of idea of what it was that was hoped would begin to happen globally.

Then came David Garrison's Church Planting Movements which put more substance onto the remarkable experiences being reported by Watson, Sergeant, Carlton and many other unnamed CPM practitioners. With Garrison's "10 Universal Elements", "Ten Common Factors" and "Ten Practical Handles" we M's had a clearer idea of the kinds of things expected and what all this was supposed to look like. Many of us poured years of our lives into trying to work out these principles within our own local cultures and contexts.

After that, I stumbled onto the writings of Frank Viola, which led to my discovery of a host of very helpful organic/simple church practitioners like Cole, Edwards, Dale, Atkerson, White, and many others too numerous to begin mentioning here.

So now we come to 2010. The IMB is once again transitioning into what is hoped to be a more effective and cutting edge missionary enterprise to accelerate the 2000 year old commission given to us by Jesus Christ to "make disciples of the nations."

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what would the picture today look like of an effective IMB missionary? What are the expectations? What kinds of tasks should he/she be engaged in? When does he/she know they are on the 'right track'? What kinds of activities currently being done by missionaries should be set aside in order to accomplish the more strategic objectives? How are these objectives measured?

Right now what we have are broad KRA's (Key Result Areas) which outline the global IMB objectives. But little to date has been shared on the implementation--the "how to" of these objectives. What would be helpful are pictures, models, descriptions, examples, and written materials on how/what it is we are to be moving towards.

Is there someone, some place, some example of where these kinds of things are happening that we can take a look and get some practical ideas? Again, what does a model missionary look like today under the new IMB changes and current direction?

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