My job is to design training for cross-cultural workers. It’s really interesting work. First, we determine what a good and healthy worker needs to know, be, or do. Along the way, we’ve compiled quite a list of knowledge, character traits, and skills that faithful and effective cross-cultural disciple making requires. Some things on the list are exactly what you might expect: missionaries need to now how to share their faith, interpret scripture, and learn new languages and cultures.
Missionary knowledge is (relatively) easy. It’s easy to assess what a Learner already knows-just ask her a series of questions. Where there’s a deficit in understanding, it’s easy to provide her with the needed information. Retention of that information, then, can be checked over time through simple quizzes.
Missionary skills are a bit more difficult, because a skill is learned over time through practice. Skills have to be developed. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy to assess a missionary’s skill: have an expert observe the worker’s behavior, and that expert can quickly get a sense of his or her skill level.
Missionary character is clearly the most difficult to assess for, train to, and evaluate. Of course, behavior is the primary indicator of what’s inside a person, so we can begin to understand who a person is by watching what they do. But being a missionary–especially a good one–is more than just activity; in many ways, there’s a particular missionary perspective that makes all the difference in a person’s usefulness to cross-cultural disciple making.
No one is born a good cross-cultural worker. Becoming a good missionary is a matter of discipleship- learning, practicing, improving. But the result of training is understanding, a Christlike attitude, and lots of transferrable skills. Would that every Christian received this sort of training!