- Sharing Your Faith
- Language Preparation
- Cultural Sensitivity
- Be Gregarious and Personable
- Knowledge in the Faith
- Open to Dialogue
- Empathy and the Ability to Help Others
- A Strong Support System Back Home
One of the goals of a missionary is to provide people knowledge into the practice of their faith. While doing this, you may engage in philanthropic activities such as assisting the poor, providing guidance in the form of counseling, and doing volunteer work in community-based activities.
Your goals could be different based on the location that your missionary work takes place. However, the skills of a missionary aren’t limited to one thing. As such, here are ten imperative needs that’ll increase interest in your faith from the people you interact with.
10 Skills Every Missionary Needs
When you’ve realized that you are being called into the missionary field, there are many things for which you need to prepare. Regardless of where they are traveling to or what their actual ministry will entail, there are ten skills every missionary needs.
1. Sharing Your Faith
Many soon-to-be missionaries don’t realize just how critical it is to be able to share your faith with others. Remember, you will be in a foreign land, with cultures, norms, values, and beliefs that are very different from those you’ve probably encountered near your home.
To be effective, you must have acquired a solid understanding of your faith and be able to share it comfortably with anyone you meet. This can be especially challenging if you’re also using a second language
2. Language Preparation
If you’ve ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone who doesn’t know your language, you can see how important language skills can be. While having a general knowledge of a language may at first appear to be sufficient, being able to comprehend many of the nuances of commonly used words is important.
Even if you’re going to a location that shares your native language, remember there are probably differences in dialect, word usage, slang, and other linguistic elements. Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about the language of your future home.
3. Cultural Sensitivity
Missionaries can find themselves in all types of difficult situations because they have misunderstood some cultural aspect of their mission setting. It takes more than just reading a book about the culture of your new assignment. You need to develop the skill of paying close attention to everything that goes on around you.
While you may have mastered the language, there are many subtle things that you need to be tuned into. Body language and other nonverbal communications are very important and can’t be ignored. It would be helpful if you could meet some people who are from the land you are going to before you finish your training.
You’re going to find yourself in all types of situations. Something as simple as catching the bus between towns or villages can be a challenge. This is especially true if you find you’ve selected the wrong bus. If you have your own vehicle, you need to know how to service it and make basic repairs. There may not be a mechanic nearby for you to hire.
Surviving in the marketplace can also be a challenge, as you need to determine which common household items you should use and where to buy them. Your home will most likely be different and probably will contain none of the conveniences you are accustomed to having.
How easily you adjust to new situations is a skill you should develop early in your training. For instance, you may find yourself wearing clothing that is customary in your mission community but uncomfortable for you. The food will most certainly be different, and you must learn to eat things you would never have considered eating back in your home place. Many of these foods may not even be available in other places of the world. Being able to skillfully maneuver through these unusual situations will have a direct impact on your success in the mission field, especially in the beginning.
6. Be Gregarious and Personable
Like other professions that involve talking and interacting with different people, missionary work is best undertaken by sociable persons, missionaries that are actively ready to engage with anyone on a formal and informal level. Having a gregarious personality will go a long way in getting people to listen and follow along with the knowledge you seek to provide on your faith. Think of it as a college lecture.
When a professor has a monotone voice and doesn’t call on their students for a spontaneous discussion on what’s being taught, chances are high that at least one student will drift away from paying attention to the course. Missionary work could go a bit further since you may live, work, and eat with the people you want to introduce to your faith. Therefore, being personable and easy to talk to can go a long way, regardless if you exclusively work alongside men, women, or children.
7. Knowledge in the Faith
As you’re a missionary, it’s expected that knowledge of your practicing faith extends past that of a general understanding. In any place, there will be an expectation of you to know scripture, what it means to you, and how it can be interpreted to others.
Aside from this, the historical accounts of your faith are good to know, particularly if they’re recognizable to others you converse with. You may find that there are those with some understanding of your religious background from books they’ve read in the past or word of mouth provided to them by their peers. Maybe you could pick up from where other missionaries they’ve spoken to had left off, which opens the door as an opportunity for them to find out engrossing pieces of info they may have wanted additional answers for.
8. Open to Dialogue
Conversations about your missionary work should always be done in good faith. Never should there be anything left out when answering questions and having discussions with the curious. But in addition to this, you want to ensure that everyone understands that segments of scripture, its teachings, and how they’re interpreted can themselves be open to interpretation.
So long as the fundamentals remain the same, they may understand or relate to them differently than you do. It could be from past experiences they’ve had, good or bad, that pulls them closer to a better comprehension of the things you teach.
9. Empathy and the Ability to Help Others
Patience and understanding are vital for getting the kind of results you want from doing missionary activities. In fact, it could be argued that this is one of the primary skills of a missionary. People tend to gravitate towards those that show a genuine interest in their well-being.
When you embrace some of their cultural norms instead of viewing them as alien to your own, help them with minor issues that come their way, and provide guidance outside of your religious knowledge, personal bonds form. They may begin to view you as a friend, family member, or important associate to have around for the benefit of their community.
10. A Strong Support System Back Home
Missionaries frequently communicate with people they know. It could be with other missionaries based in their home location, friends and acquaintances from their school, or family members. They can help you with suggestions, keep you posted on the goings-on of other missionaries under the same wing, and offer assistance in interactive studies.
It’s usually done in the area where your missionary work takes place. There could be times when you need encouragement, people to keep you grounded in your religious duties. So be sure to keep close ties with people back home through email, text, or video communication whenever you can.
Being a missionary can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. If you are ill-prepared, however, you may find the challenges difficult to overcome. You need to be ready for anything, and these ten skills will be essential to managing the challenges you encounter.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is missionary work safe?
Places of worship back home, colleges, and religious nonprofits have internships and volunteer sites located in almost every corner of the world. Many of the places where missionaries work are no less safe than your home location. However, due to the outreach of missionary work, there are places where different threats are more likely to occur than others.
Most bodies that contain people involving themselves in missionary work overseas are in constant communication with their organization, congregation, or nonprofit group. Threat levels are monitored by on-the-ground reporting. Furthermore, new risks are also found through information obtained from embassy and consular websites.
2. Do missionaries take part in charitable work?
Charity work is often done by missionaries. It’s one way they promulgate themselves since charity opens up doors to people becoming curious about the teachings that missionaries believe in. Charity goes beyond donations. Missionaries may take part in the building of parks, roads, provide school supplies to young people, and assist in revitalization projects that local governments are unable to do. Providing help is the backbone of missionary activities and helps to build relationships. Plus, it’s the right thing to do.
3. Is missionary work available in most religious colleges?
Many religious colleges have missionary internships for students that have a calling to bring others closer to their own religious beliefs. They tend to reach out to people with little to no understanding of their religious practice. For many students that wish to do this, studying about the country they plan to visit and learning some of the local languages is essential.
Students become read up on the cultures they’ll see and interact with prior to leaving. Anything that helps them to become more engaged with the foreign community they themselves will be foreigners in is usually covered, including how to deal with stressful situations.
4. Are there missionaries with all of the major Christian denominations?
Most Christian denominations undertake missionary work in some form. They can be found all over the world but are in particular abundance in areas where knowledge of Christianity is limited. Some denominations may operate their own churches in a particular region. They help local populations understand the differences between other Christian denominations, and theirs.
Sometimes, more than one denomination could link up under the same internship program. Non-denominational missionary work is also available, sometimes done through private churches and obtained through public fundraisers and from members of a congregation.
5. What is the typical day like for a missionary abroad?
Missionaries typically work in the fields of education, but may also volunteer in activities with foreign students when they are done with school. So for most, general work that helps local communities is done. Messages of their faith are spread through interaction. Therefore, missionary outreach programs do this through the creation of friendships.
6. Where is missionary work not allowed?
Some middle eastern nations forbid the open practice of anything other than the official faith of their government. In such a place, missionary work is either extremely limited or nonexistent. For the safety of missionaries, teaching others about their faith is done so following all national, local, and provincial laws wherever they exist.
7. Is it easy to communicate with missionaries away from home?
Thanks to advances in computer technology and social media, it’s now easier than ever for missionaries to maintain links to communicate with people from their home locations. Everything from messenger applications, VoIP programs like Skype and Zoom, and improved internet capabilities in developing countries are reasons for this.
In most countries today, SIM cards can be purchased at local stores, though the missionaries themselves may provide them for people within the group. For the most part, communication isn’t as limited as it was in the recent past. The means to talk to people you know from home will be available to you in some form.
While missionary work is serious overall, it can also be a fun and exciting way for the young and old alike to spread the word about the beliefs of their religion. Some are called to do this for themselves, becoming a part of larger bodies with the resources for them to do missionary work in any number of places. The more one understands what they can do to ensure success in their missionary activities, the more rewarding the experience will be for them.