How NOT to Send Marketplace Missionaries
Updated: May 16, 2022
So, this could be a terrible idea for an article. But here goes.
I don’t know how to send marketplace missionaries. And that’s a problem. As a pastor in a sending church that needs to begin sending marketplace workers overseas, I need to have it together, to give some direction. But I’ve only reached the point of knowing what not to do.
Yet I wonder, perhaps that’s valuable information.
So here’s what I’ve been learning about how not to send marketplace missionaries.
Do Not Make Promises You Cannot Keep
It’s tempting to speak assuring words of the church’s undying love and devotion to the member(s) taking his or her job overseas. But this creates certain expectations. When the church doesn’t live up to those expectations, it’s crushingly disappointing. When sending your first marketplace workers, there is wisdom keeping expectations low.
Do Not Assume It’s Just Like Sending Traditional Missionaries
Taking a job overseas with gospel intentionality is vastly different from serving as a full-time missionary. Yes, they are both valuable pathways to mission. They both should be affirmed as “sent ones”. But there will be significant differences in their needs, capacities, responsibilities, and successes. Plus, equating them with one another may even create friction or confusion between them.
Do Not Require Extensive Training Before They Are Sent
By the time they arrive overseas, traditional missionaries have often dedicated years of full-time preparation (college, seminary, cross-cultural experience, linguistics, etc.). It’s not fair to expect the same of marketplace workers, especially since they usually don’t know in advance when or where the right opportunity will open up. Instead, offer as much training as you can before they leave, then plan on supplying the rest while they are overseas. As a great resource on this, check out the Upstream Collective's Helipad Training for marketplace workers.
Do Not Send Marketplace Workers If You Don’t Really Value Vocation
If you know your church doesn’t see vocation as God-glorifying in itself, or as a valid alternative pathway to mission, then don’t try to send a marketplace worker. It probably will not change the church’s culture, and the worker may be misunderstood and undervalued. Instead, mobilize those in the church who do see the value of vocation to pray for change. If you are a church leader, teach about God’s perspective toward our work. You may soon find not only a change in perspective, but a shift in the mission zeal of professionals (often the majority of church members).
For more on this topic, see Larry McCrary's book, The Marketspace: Essential Relationships Between the Sending Church, Marketplace Worker, and Missionary Team.
This article was originally featured at The Upstream Collective.