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Mistakes missionaries make up the front of church

I’ve been helping another CMS worker here to think about her family’s coming Home Assignment/deputation – the thing where you go around to churches to reconnect or report back or invite people to partner with you.

There are several challenges for the worker, some more serious than others. For example, the church might have changed significantly in their absence (typically 3 years for a CMS worker) but even if it hasn’t, the worker’s world has been pretty different for the last several years and they may find it difficult to connect.

On a lighter note, Arthur and I brainstormed some of the classic mistakes missionaries make on deputation. 

  1. Opening with a line in another language. It’s cliched and it doesn’t mean anything to the people you’re talking to.
  2. Wearing clothes from their host country. There might be some novelty to this, but the risk of dorkiness is pretty high too.
  3. Demanding that the congregation loosen up/move/dance, etc because that’s what church is like in the worker’s host country. Contextualisation has to go both ways!
  4. Guilting people about the good gifts God has given them. e.g. about their large home, iPad, multiple cars, etc.
  5. Including children who don’t want to be there in the presentation. It’s awkward for everyone.
  6. Exceeding the allotted time.
  7. Talking generally about their life in the host country without telling the audience the purpose. It’s hard to get on board with something when you’re not sure what it is!
  8. Using powerpoint to list information.

That’s eight, but there’s gotta be more than that. Which ones have we missed?

dorky missionaries

Categories: Uncategorized Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

3 replies

  1. Yes, yes and yes!

    – telling embarrassing or overly revealing stories about their children in their presentation
    – not talking about their children at all (makes it seems like this is just mum and dad’s thing)
    – contributing to a secular work/missionary divide by talking about how they’ve ‘left everything to serve God’s kingdom and move far away to be missionaries’, which may be true, but without acknowledging that every Christian in the room is a ‘missionary’ etc etc

  2. If a family has a large house and multiple cars, that more often reflects purchasing decisions rather that simply what God gave them. I still think Aussie Christians’ use of money is an area with a lot of room for improvement. A visiting overseas worker is not always the best person to bring this message (certainly not when it’s in the context of asking for financial support for themselves) but they often bring a global perspective of what “enough” is.

    I’m OK with ppt to list info if you’re using ppt anyway for pictures. Helps you not omit points you might forget.

    One of the best “missionary speaker”s I heard in the last year was a CMSer about to go overseas. He talked about how his family had served God in Australia, what they were going to do in Africa, and encouraged us to serve God where we are and support & pray for each other.

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