This is part 4 of a 4-part series.
You’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think – Winnie the Pooh.
We are continuing the series based upon my research of 15 years ago. Factors in the background, education, training, motivation, life, ministry and work of those serving in the 10/40 Window were identified and related to their effectiveness in serving Jesus Christ. Effectiveness or productivity is defined in terms of evangelism, discipleship and church planting. For comparison, a “worker” includes missionaries, tentmakers / BAMers / B4Ters. Exactly 450 people were surveyed. This is week 4 of 4 on this topic.
The research validates a holistic approach to ministry in that workers who said, my consistent Christian life is commented on by others are very effective.
Witnessing & Ministry & WorKship Overseas
Workers who actively seek opportunities to verbally share my faith with everyone are also productive. Laborers who built strong relationships/friendships with over 10 nationals/locals also win souls. And finally those who have experienced a demonic confrontation are effective. Workers who are active in evangelism should expect to deal with spiritual warfare issues. This is an incentive to teach boldness in evangelism, proclamation, and other evangelistic strategies. We need to take advantage of workplace situations to identify with Jesus daily.
Adopted Country/People Group
The involvement of the local churches in reaching the unreached people group has no impact on the worker’s effectiveness. The fact that local Christians may actively witness to the unreached people does not impact a worker’s effectiveness. These points indicate that though the BAM/B4T worker’s effectiveness may be helped by the openness of the country to the Gospel, the activities of the local church have no impact on the worker’s effectiveness. Whatever people group, religion, or segment of society the workers are focusing on makes little difference in their effectiveness.
Experienced workers will not be surprised to learn that workers who are fluent in the local language consistently scored among the highest in the whole research. When applicable, workers who said they minister to the people in their heart language scored better than those who minister in the trade or national language. Those who said they minister to the people in English or their native language are less effective. We need to learn the language well.
Workers who have had to lie to ensure the success of a business deal are less effective. Obviously, our character will affect not only our walk with God but our relationships with humans too. Workers who often take risks have a higher degree of effectiveness.
Workers who have a clear strategy for planting a church are very effective, while workers who do not have a clear church planting strategy are normally ineffective. Laborers who have someone hold them accountable in ministry monthly or more have a better probability of being effective than others who are held accountable less frequently. Workers who said I had no goals in the beginning and I have many family needs scored high in ineffectiveness. The value of setting goals is clear. Sending bodies need to help workers set goals at the beginning of their terms of service and evaluate those goals regularly. Workers who have emotionally needy families are also likely to be less effective. This is a warning to avoid the “raising families overseas” syndrome, meaning workers may spend so much time with their families that it adversely affects their outreach.
Many workers are being held accountable by team members/colleagues, yet being held accountable by a fellow team member has a slightly negative influence on the worker. Laborers who do not have any accountability are normally unproductive. Mission leaders should take note that nearly 50% of the workers wish they had more accountability in their lives. Eleven areas are listed in which workers would like more accountability; “character” and “relationship with God” being the top two. Churches should be asking their workers for their goals and results annually, and ensure their workers have regular accountability which helps them move forward in accomplishing their God-given goals and are growing in their walk with God.
It is encouraging that 93% of all workers are on a team. This is shows there are fewer “lone rangers” than first believed. Workers scored well who said they are currently leading a team and who had recruited people to join their team or other teams or ministries. Workers are more effective who serve on teams where the team members are from more than one country. Workers serving with a team where the nationalities of the team members are a mix of nationals and locals are a tad more effective. The data indicates the ideal team size is eleven or twelve members. A team becomes more effective as its size increases from three to twelve members, then plateauing until fifteen, after which the effectiveness of the team decreases. Workers whose team meets weekly or twice a month score better than teams which meet less frequently.
Workers who say that most of their co-workers are from the people group they are reaching are highly effective. Again, whether socially or in the workplace, the more time we invest with the people we are trying to reach, the more effective we will be. This is validated in that workers who answered most of their co-workers are expatriates or foreigners and workers who spend less than 1 hour a day working with their target people scored poorly. If a worker’s place of employment does not have a least a few local employees from the focus people group something should be done to increase their presence. The holistic approach is reinforced as the data shows that workers who have received an official commendation or award for their work performance have good effectiveness. Doing good work in the office will impact the worker’s witness/ministry.
Workers who view their project/job as a cover to stay in the country and do little non-ministry work are not very effective. Having a real job in a real workplace that allows flexible working hours seems to be the ideal tentmaking entry strategy. Tentmakers did not find their work as a hindrance to ministry.
In summary, these are key factors that are important in preparing to do BAM or tentmaking or B4T:
- Bold witness is important.
- We need to strive for language fluency, and not minster in our native language.
- Set goals in advance. Be flexible, they are likely to change, but having a target to aim helps you to press forward.
- Get an experienced mentor to work with you.
- People who work with those they are reaching out to, bear more fruit.
These are key factors that are not as important as you might think:
- The workplace is a place of ministry/worKship, not an identity.
- Large teams, more than a dozen people, may be more of a hindrance than a help.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.