Did you know that most missionaries only last about two years on the field? Statistics show the proper pre-field training greatly increases your chances of being more fruitful and staying on the mission field longer. We are absolutely committed to providing the best training possible so that our graduates can go serve all over the world and bear much fruit.
We take a balanced, holistic approach to missionary training and preparation. We purposely focus on integral ministry training: head (formal, classroom, theory), heart (informal, community, spiritual), and hands (non-formal, on-the-job, practical). Books like Integral Ministry Training as well as others studies and research explain that this is the best way to equip long-term laborers for the mission field. So, here is our approach:
[ Head (knowledge) ]
There are people running all over the globe with great intentions and a true love for the Lord, but making a mess in the missions world! A little bit of Bible knowledge and some good missiology can go along way. We study God’s Word as well as books like When Helping Hurts, Church Planting Movements, and Eternity in Their Hearts to help us understand some of the best practices as we go out to make disciples of all nations. Head knowledge alone can be dangerous and maybe even isolate you from some of the people that you are wanting to reach as they may not be very educated at all. So, we do not want to overemphasize “book smarts” but having an understand of things like worldview differences, world religions, how to learn a language, sharing your faith with a Muslim, church planting principles, and a good understanding of the Scriptures will be a huge help for serving overseas.
[ Heart (character) ]
The disciples were “uneducated, common men…that had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13) and used by the Lord to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:6). We know that apart from Him, we can do nothing. So, a bit of our training is focused on learning to abide in Christ by becoming better disciples of His. We spend a bit of time in His Word; we pray together; we have corporate times of worship; we have accountability groups; our staff disciples the students. Spiritual growth best happens in the context of community, so all of our staff and students live within walking distance as we walk out what it means to be the church and disciples of Christ together. John Piper says that “worship exists because missions doesn’t” and that “worship is the fuel of missions”. The best way to prepare for missions is to cultivate a lifestyle of worship which is a high priority for us.
[ Hand (skills) ]
Patrick Lai, in his book Tentmaking, researched a lot of missionaries on the mission field and saw correlations between their fruitfulness on the field and things that were done before deployment. People that had worked with internationals before going overseas, people that had been discipled, people that had led someone to the Lord, and people that had led small group Bible studies do so much better on the mission field. Jesus showed us that the best way to learn to do ministry was modeling it for us and then sending us out to do it. Paul trained Timothy by mentoring and doing ministry together. We think that is the best way to prepare to become a missionary, is by DOING! At least twelve to fifteen hours per week during our missionary training school, students spend time participating in community service, teaching English, learning other languages, doing evangelism, providing discipleship, church planting in apartment complexes, helping with children’s programs, doing youth ministry, leading Bible studies, etc. On-the-job training is where the bulk of the training takes place as you will be discipled, coached, and mentored in the skills necessary to become a successful long-term missionary.
We want to live as a missional community spending just as much time doing missions as we are learning about missions. As we fall more in love with Jesus by individually and corporately praying, worshipping, spending time in His Word, and seeking first His kingdom, He will equip us with everything we need to go and make disciples of all nations. This is one of the most unique aspects of our missionary training as you get holistic training by studying cross-cultural principles and missions strategy in the classroom, coupled with hands-on missionary training on the field, and all of this happens while living in authentic Christian community.
Our staff and students live intentionally right in the middle of very diverse apartment complexes in large, multi-ethnic cities. We specifically chose sites that have a large amount of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Chinese. We want our students reaching out to unreached people groups here before they go over “there”. Let’s watch you learn a little bit of Arabic. Let’s see you lead a Somali to the Lord. Let’s see you start a Bible study with Iraqi ladies. It takes a lot of time, energy, and resources to be a missionary, so we want to help train you and put it into practice here and then we will help place you among the nations.
We often compare our missionary training school to a medical school. We look for folks that have already gotten their “pre-med” in the local church by getting basic discipleship, a firm foundation in Christ and the Word, have been involved in some ministry, etc. Our missionary training school provides specialized training to help people learn how to do evangelism, discipleship, and church planting in a cross-cultural setting with people from other religions which is a special skill set that people do not get in most local churches. We also want to provide lots of hands-on experience like you would get during your rotations in a medical school; we recommend that students stay on board with us for an additional seven months for a missionary apprenticeship upon graduation to try out different types of ministry and to gain more cross-cultural experience. After five months of missionary training school plus an optional but highly recommended seven additional month missionary apprenticeship, we feel like people are much more equipped to head out to the mission field. We can help connect you to other on-the-field training opportunities through our partner agencies.
Missionary Training School is currently offered at our Atlanta location each spring (January) and fall (August). Current dates and prices can be found on the right side of this page. The Houston and Richmond missionary training program runs from August to May each year. And we are excited to launch a new mission training school in Sydney, Australia in 2017! As God provides more laborers in the future, we hope to add missionary training schools in new cities as we start new bases. We also have an online missionary training school for those that are not able to make it to one of our existing locations.