Missionary Competency

A lack of professional training and equipping can contribute to attrition and ineffective ministry.  The work of missions is specialized, with language and culture challenges that require specialized training.  Missionary training should equip men and women to do a better job than they could without training. 

“We should be doing our best to send our qualified missionaries.   Anything else is unfair to the national churches and dishonoring to the Lord” (Kane 1987, 176).   

At Faith Global Missions, we agree with Kane.  We are constantly working on improving our training content, methods and partnerships to help churches send the best qualified missionaries.  Other professions such as doctors and teachers have minimum standards of training and competency for entering the field and ongoing professional development requirements.   Studies show this has not been the practice in the missionary profession (Dooley 1998; Kane 1980).  The lack of initial and ongoing training for missionaries with little practical or extended exposure to cross-cultural ministry results in many failures (Kane 1980; Dooley 1998; Kohls 2001; Taylor 1997). 

“There are perhaps more missionaries today than ever before, but they are more poorly trained and prepared than at any other period of mission history” (Whiteman 2008, 5). 

Whether you agree with Whiteman or not, I hope his statement gives you pause.  Sometimes, missionaries decide not to serve with FGM because we won’t let them go to the field fast enough.  We believe missionaries should be better trained and prepared than at any other period of missionary history.  Fundamentally, we believe the effectiveness, sustainability, and success of a mission organization will depend significantly upon its view of mission competency and the proper equipping of its missionaries to carry out the mission.  


Dooley, Marianna. 1998. “Intercultural competency in relation to missionary effectiveness: implications for on-field training.” Deerfield, IL: Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

Kane, J. Herbert. 1980. Life and work on the mission field. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Kohls, Robert L. 2001. Survival kit for overseas living: for Americans planning to live and work abroad. 4th ed. London: Nicolas Brealey Publishing.

Taylor, William David. ed. 1997. Too valuable to lose : exploring the causes and cures of missionary attrition. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library.

David Selvey<
David is the pastor of global outreach at Faith Church and the executive director of Faith Global Missions. He serves as a counselor in Faith Biblical Counseling Ministry and teaches in and plans international conferences. David has served as a missionary and worked as a small business owner. He and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Indiana since 1995 and have been members of Faith Church since 1996.