Global Mission Handbook

A Guide for Crosscultural Service


Steve Hoke & Bill Taylor

InterVarsity Press, 2009, 303 pp.   ISBN 978-0-8308-3717-5



Steve Hoke serves with Church Resource Ministries and Bill Taylor serves with the World Evangelical Alliance’s Mission Commission.  This is an updated and expanded version of the best book on missionary preparation, Send Me!.  It covers three major phases of preparation and training: Getting Ready, Getting There, and Getting Established.  Each section includes an introductory essay and an assessment tool or worksheet plus observations, examples, advice, and perspectives from several mission experts.  The assessments and worksheets are immensely helpful.


Introduction – What Does It Take to Be Prepared?

What really is a missionary?  “The New Testament affirms that the apostolic messenger (the missionary) becomes the person authoritatively sent out by God and the church on a special mission with a special message, with particular focus on the Gentiles, the ‘nations.’” (22)  


“We are convinced that missionary is not simply a generic term for all Christians doing everything the church does in service to the kingdom of God. … These women and men are crosscultural workers who serve within or outside their national boundaries, crossing some kind of linguistic, geographic or cultural barrier in obedience to God.” (22-23)


“Future crosscultural, long-distance, long-term servants must prove themselves in their own geographies, which are increasingly multicultural.” (29) 


“You carry your culture with you—whether you’re conscious of it or not.  Until you see yourself as you really are, you’ll see both yourself and others from a distorted point of view.” (38) 


The broad vision is to see worshiping communities of Jesus’ disciples in every context, disciples free from their material, spiritual, physical, and emotional bondages, worshipers who will join those worshiping throngs ultimately in heaven, faith communities of transformed Jesus disciples.  (41)


Perhaps the best assessment tool in the book is a grid to evaluate needs for further spiritual formation/character qualities, ministry skills, and knowledge. (pp. 44-45)


The prime reasons for early return from mission service:

·   Inadequate spirituality and lack of tested commitment to mission

·   Inadequate ministry competencies, including problems with relationships

·   Inadequate prefield equipping and training (47)



1. Personal Spiritual Formation

“But dedication is not enough. Raw zeal is not enough.  Commitment is not enough. Not even high-octane spiritual gifts are enough!  We need to constantly grow in intimacy with Christ and experience the unmistakable, transforming power of the Spirit in our lives.  We are concerned with changed lives, with transformation in Christ.”  (54)


“Relationship is everything. …it’s critical to get your relational priorities straight from the outset.” (54) 


“The most effective way the gospel can be communicated is through telling others what Christ has done for you.  It’s essentially storytelling.  To want to speak for Christ ‘out there’ without sharing him with others ‘here’ would be inconsistent, to say the least. … Becoming a crosscultural witness means being a witness right here, right now.” (57)  “Winsome, fragrant living is the basis of incarnational ministry.”  (57) 


“The yearning to do great things for God too easily becomes a substitute for knowing God himself.” (58)  “A deeper love and longing for God always leads to greater spiritual maturity and to a more authentic, humble, enduring and effective service of him.” (59) 


Use this guide to create your own personal mission statement, “your best understanding to date of the unique contribution for which God has created you.” (63)


Bill Taylor and Paul Borthwick write brief essays on the missionary call.” (p. 72 ff) 


2. Discovering Your Ministry Identity in the Body of Christ

Those preparing for missionary service need to be involved in many ways, including serving in a local community of faith.  Their faith needs a relational context to grow.  Ministry is relational.  You learn your gifts through feedback from others.  Ask for their prayer support.  Ask them how they think you should prepare.  Let the pastor know you are seeking, available and teachable for ministry.  Find a fruitful senior saint as a mentor.  Get involved in missions in your church.  Take the initiative to develop international friendships.  Get on the job training.  Missionaries must be able to become self-sufficient. You may have to learn to support yourself on the field. 


“Look at every job as a learning opportunity.  Approach it with an open mind and the simple belief that God has placed you in it for a purpose and expects you to do your very best.  Learn about taking directions from others.  Learn about working on a team.  Experiment to see if your drive and passion for starting new communities of faith in the difficult places of the world is genuine.  Take initiative.  Innovate.  Start new ministries.  Western young people are not considered ‘adult’ until they have actually gone out and supported themselves.” (84)


“Unity is not an accident or something across which you stumble.  It is an active choice.  It is my conscious, intentional decision to move from a self-focused, entitled ‘I’ to becoming a member of Team –‘we.’” (85)


Good tips for prefield conditioning on pp. 87 ff.


“You can test your missions motivation by examining the activities you’re involved in now.  The most important way to prepare for the rigors of missions is to live a life of service at home.  Any opportunity that takes you out of your comfort zone is good preparation for the foreign field. … Spending time with international students or with foreigners at your workplace is excellent training for developing friendships abroad. … Broadening your perspective on the world is crucial to understanding a foreign culture.” (89-90)


“The key to effective ministry is servanthood.  One mission leader says that…he looks for people who are teachable, flexible and humble in spirit.  Heading overseas with a warm, caring attitude and finding practical ways to serve the people you want to reach will go a long way toward making your mission experience successful.” (91)


Robertson McQuilkin lists four building blocks: heart preparation, active involvement in ministry, formal preparation and basic education, and language and cultural studies.  To fit these together, build a relationship with a church that will partner with you in vision and prayer. (92-3)


Four critical support systems are essential to long-term thrival: intimacy with God, an intercession team, a personal support team, and a personal mentoring cluster. (95-97)


“The stewardship of creation will be a next big wave of interest in missions.  However, what seems to be missing is the conviction of the lostness of humanity without Christ and the urgent need for the gospel message.” (103, quoting Jim Tebbe, Director, Urbana)


3. Exposure to Other Cultures

“Not until we have actually experienced another culture by attempting to live as part of it do we understand the tremendous differences that exist.” “It is important that as soon as possible you have an opportunity to live and work in another culture.”  (107) 


“…go as a humble learner, to discover what God is already at work doing in that place.  You do not go to teach or to solve anything.  Short-term missions at this phase are purely exploratory and, as Robert Reese suggests, are primarily a spiritual exercise through which the Spirit will further shape your character.” (107)  Don’t overlook the possibility of service multi-culturally in your own city. 


Linda Olson provides a positive perspective on mission trips and Steven Hawthorne gives an overview of serving for a summer or longer – with a checklist. (p. 110-114)  Robert Reese provides good suggestions for preparing for a mission trip along with a helpful chart of how North American culture, a spiritualist culture, and biblical thinking contrast on several issues. (115-117)  For North Americans, spirituality is not automatic.” [We see through the eyes of our culture.] (117)


“Culture, like a slot machine, is programmed to ensure that those who hold power win and the common players lose….  The structures and organizations of cultures are not neutral; people define and structure their relationships with others to protect their personal or group interests and to sustain or gain advantage over others with whom they compete.  Culture is created and contaminated by human beings; culture is the pen of disobedience from which freedom is possible only through the gospel.”  “Every culture and every person must change in light of a new perspective—Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and exalted.” … “When we carefully examine ourselves, we shall be forced to admit that more often than not we conform theology to practice; we perceive the kingdom of God on earth in our own cultural terms.”  (122-24, quoting Sherwood Lingenfelter)


Bill Taylor lists several benefits and some shortcomings of short term missions.  Lesslie Newbigin classified short term missions in the category of learning. (125)  Taylor is wary of trips that leave little impact or require nothing after the participants return home.  “Shorter terms should be seen, at least in part, as hand-on training for missions.” (127) 


“I’m not the only mission leader who discerns a dangerous tendency in North America.  First we cut down on screening, recruiting, training and sending long-term missionaries and then we just send short-termers.  But down the road, we eliminate both short- and long-termers, and we send money instead.  At the end we will send nothing!  This approach appears cost-effective and less painful at first.  But it is unbiblical and perilous for the soul of the global church.” (128 Bill Taylor)


“The Commission to disciple the nations is for all of us, wherever we come from.  The whole church—north, south, east and west—is called to take the whole gospel to the whole world.” (129, quoting Rose Dowsett)


Steve Hoke suggests five ways to sort through your options: Find a friend to help; stretch out your future on a timeline; stretch your faith; face your fears; deal with freedoms.  “The real issue is being utterly mastered by Christ.  You may need to face up to a mistaken sense of entitlement.  Do you somehow believe that God is rigging up the whole world to revolve around your own self-fulfillment?” (131)


4. Critical Issues in Schooling and Support Raising

The pyramid of education starts with basic education and schooling, then experience, then practical missionary training, and then lifelong learning.  As an undergraduate consider courses in cultural anthropology, sociology, linguistics, international relations, and international development.  Most critical are some foundational courses in Bible.  If you have completed undergraduate study, find the best way to add training in Bible, anthropology, crosscultural communication, and specialized training in a vocational skill that would give you viability in another culture.  (135-36)  The “World Christian Foundations” curriculum from the  U.S. Center for world Missions is highly recommended as is the course, “Perspectives on the World Christian Movement.” 


Get your feet wet in ministry and then get further specialized training.  “You cannot front-load all you need to know for the complexity and seriousness of crosscultural ministry in college or grad school before going to the field.” (139)


“Studying at a Christian college allows you to integrate biblical training with your academic field of study.”  “…unless believers possess an integrated, God-centered view of the world, they will have little to offer people of differing cultures.” (140)



5. Church and Agency - Connecting and Courting

“Begin with input from your home church. … You want to move as organically and relationally as you can.”  (158) 


Who sends the missionary?  There’s no question in my mind that ultimately you want to be sent out by your local church.” (160)


“We still need missionaries from all over the world, including the Global North for pioneer, evangelistic, church-planting ministry in areas of the world where the church is not yet planted.” (163, quoting Peter Maiden)


You need to establish that you can do your job in your mother culture first.  (164)


“There are some things that can be done only by the long-term missionary.  That’s why we still need many more ‘lifers.’ … worshiping communities of Jesus will be established among unreached peoples primarily by longer-term servants willing to invest at least ten to twenty years of their lives—perhaps even to give their lives….” (166, Bill Taylor)


Three prime causes for avoidable missionary attrition: spiritual weakness, relationship inadequacies, inadequate prefield preparation.  (169-70)


6. Ministry Role and Assignment Search

“Most people say, ‘I’m willing to go, but planning to stay.’ You need to reverse this and say, ‘I’m planning to go, but willing to stay.’ … If you aren’t planning to go, you never get off the dock….”  (204) 


Move forward; imagine the doors; and expect God to open and shut the doors as you go along.


7. Hands-On Missionary Training

“First, you must build a solid God and Word foundation—a strong working knowledge of Scripture that establishes your faith, undergirds your values and guides your behavior.  … Your biblical knowledge is to be valued, not because it affords prestige or power, but because it is useful for guiding your ministry.” (208) 


Master the fundamentals: build ministry skills; focus your training for your role; get adequate missiological training; prepare in the social sciences; focus on culture and language learning.    Hoke provides a good summary of components on pp. 215-218.



8. Apprenticeships and Internships

The ideal place for hands-on training is as close to the target as possible. 


Ted Ward contributes a “Baggage Claim Exercise” to see how much of your cultural baggage you will take—or should take—with you.  (238-241) 


9. Lifelong Learning

“The task of learning never ends. … There will always be fresh opportunities to learn and do new things.” (247)  “Because God changes us through our life experience along the journey of faith, setting aside intentional time for personal growth and development should be a vital component of every missionary’s ministry plan.” (248)


“If you are a potential missionary, now is the time to face your past.  Accept it, and then gather the resources to change.” (252) 


See the Personal Development Plan Worksheet on p. 260 ff.


Finishing well “means coming to the end of the life race with authentic faith and personal integrity.” (265)


Appendix 1. Resources

Appendix 2. Bibliography

Appendix 3. Small-Group Leaders Guides


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