The Incomplete Pass: A Call For Missionary Teams to Receive Well, Part Two

BY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LARRY MCCRARY

Receiving new workers on the mission field (whether they be short-, mid-, or long-term) is one of the responsibilities of the long-term missionary. In this series Upstream’s Executive Director, Larry McCrary, will be expounding on what it would look like for missionaries to receive such workers well. You can read the entire series here.

Integrating New Mid-Term and Long-Term Teammates

What is the metric for success when long-term missionaries receive someone for a few months who is exploring the possibility of joining their team? Or what about another long-term missionary coming to join their team? Is the measure of their value the extent to which they perform the task or role we need them to? While it is true that we need them to contribute to the objectives of the team, we also need to see it more comprehensively.

I like to think in terms of integration. What does that look like?

I think integration looks like desiring to see our new teammates do well personally, spiritually, and emotionally. It’s wanting to see them live with intentionality, not just surviving, but thriving in their new culture and language. This doesn’t mean them not experiencing any rough spots in culture and language acquisition, but moving through it in a way that’s beneficial to their head, hands, and heart.

When it comes to teaming, we should think in terms of two parts of integration: belonging to the team and enhancing the team’s strategy.

Belonging to the Team

What I mean by belonging is this: do the newly arrived workers have a sense of belonging to the team, and does the team see them as an equal part of the team? Here are some practical signs that they are being received well:

  • They are involved in the team’s work and leisure activities whenever possible.

  • They have a sense of community from the team based on more than just a common task.

  • They have accountability structures in place with the team leader.

  • They are included in the team’s virtual communication (if your team communicates in this way).

  • They are involved in the team’s prayer strategy.

  • They come to team meetings when available. (Please note, however, in many cases marketplace workers cannot attend missionary team meetings if the team meetings are during a work week and during work hours. The team and the marketplace worker need to agree upon what this can look like, especially if the team cannot change their meeting time due to scheduling.)

Enhancing the Team’s Strategy

What I mean by enhancing the team’s strategy is this: do the newly arrived workers add value to the strategic priorities of the team? Here are some practical signs they are doing so:

  • The worker has a defined role on the team based on his/her gifting and availability.

  • The worker has agreement with what strategic engagement looks like on a team and is properly trained for such engagement.

  • The expectations between the worker and team have been intentionally clarified.

  • The team leader verbally and consistently affirms to the wider team the strategic value of the newly arrived worker, along with the importance of helping them become established.

If we can look at integrating our new mid-term and long-term workers in ways like these, then we will be much better-suited to both receive and lead them well as teammates.