• Dr. Timothy X. Merritt

Missionary Training Center – Part 1


Nazareth Village picture illustrating Missionary Training Center, Missionaries, Missionary Retreat, and Missionary support in the 10-40 Window.
Imagining a New Kind of Missionary Training Center

ABSTRACT:

The purpose of this document is to imagine a new kind of organization. In my fiction novel, the Tyropoeon Valley Hospitality Center is a replica of a first century Christian village used to house missionaries that have returned to the U.S. while on furlough from their overseas missional work. This document illustrates how I developed the ideas for the Tyropoeon Valley Center.

By blending together elements of two real organizations this mental exercise focuses on the importance of creating a shared culture when merging elements of two very different organizations with very different purposes. The Global Frontiers Missions and Guardian Centers are used to imagine an entirely new type of scenario-based missionary training center designed for training missionaries to operate in remote rural locations throughout the “10/40 window.”


The challenge is that the majority of long-term missionaries are not lasting past their first two years. Research has demonstrated that good field training can improve those attrition rates. This exercise seeks to imagine what the extensive the extensive missionary field experience of Global Frontiers Missions would look like when combined with the scenario-based training expertise of Guardian Centers to develop a simulated first century Christian village located within the United States to serve as a training platform for new missionaries, and as an ongoing research and recovery center for returning missionaries.


Merritt Consultants Ltd., (also an imaginary organization) is poised to facilitate the development of this new enterprise through analysis of the current organizational cultures of both Global Frontiers Missions and Guardian Centers and to guide the development of the future merged organizational culture that will be required for a successful endeavor.

All information used in this analysis is freely available on the internet, and I highly recommend that you visit these sites to judge for yourself the feasibility of the fictional Tyropoeon Valley Hospitality Center.


BACKGROUND:

All planned change starts with some recognition of a problem. The Global Frontier Missions (GFM) is a movement of Christ-centered communities dedicated to mobilizing, training, and multiplying disciples and churches to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the unreached people groups of the earth. They have realized that while many missionary activities take place in sparsely populated rural areas, their own training programs are located exclusively in densely populated urban areas. What is needed now is a missionary training facility dedicated to preparing laborers for work in austere rural environments where the most basic issues of water, sanitation, food and security are paramount.


To develop this new rural training program, GFM is partnering with Guardian Centers, whose staff has the expertise to develop a holistic curriculum that is designed to provide students with realistic challenges and specializes in scenario-based solutions for the preparation and execution of exercises along with full service logistics support.


Merritt Consultants Ltd. will facilitate the merger of these two organizations to enable them to better meet the objectives of the partnership. We here at Merritt Consultants will stress the importance of creating a shared culture between the organizations using a three stage Model of Change Management:


Stage 1: Helping to create the motivation for change.

Stage 2: Learning new concepts, new meanings for old concepts, and setting new standards.

Stage 3: Facilitating the internalization of new concepts by key personnel and staff.


CHALLENGE:

Most long term missionaries are not even lasting past their first two year term. According to missionary coach Sariha Hartz (2015), the statistics are scary: 80% of missionaries burn out and don’t finish their term. 46% of missionaries have been diagnosed with a psychological issue, and of those 87% are diagnosed with depression. Many missionaries also experience PTSD because of the extreme situations they are exposed to often in isolation, whether it be military combat, death, war, or stories of sexual violence. They are faced with grueling situations every day from orphans needing homes, to babies nearly dying due to poor intervention, stressful work environments and challenges communicating cross culturally, to dealing with corruption.

Yet research by Global Frontiers Missions (GFM) suggests that good pre-field training can help with those attrition rates. Many missions agencies are seeing the need for laborers to develop the knowledge, character, and skills necessary before they embark on their first mission, and especially in the first year to receive help with language learning and acculturation, to navigate visa and government issues, to figure out identity and valid platforms to serve in the country, and to get basic life skills to help missionaries thrive in country.


PURPOSE:

GFM is currently looking to start new training center in a rural location where the expert staff of the Guardian Centers can design master scenario exercises that meet the GFM’s training objectives and can deliver unique, realistic and challenging scenarios that prepare new missionary laborers for real world events. Beginning first with US-based missionaries, the ultimate goal of GFM is to train indigenous disciples that can return to their own people groups with the gospel message to initiate church planting movements.

The purpose of this information paper is to decipher the culture of these two organizations in order to facilitate their merging into a new rural scenario-based missionary training center that will come alongside missionary laborers before their first mission trip and provide them with the training essential for them to really be cared for during that critical first year. Our service is aimed at shaping the personal and organizational values into a shared ethic and code of conduct that be applied consistently across multiple cultures around the world.

This following is a definition and explanation of key terms, a discussion across six comparison standards, and recommendations for a model of change management moving forward.


KEY TERMS:

  1. Organizational Cultural Assessment Instrument (OCAI): The OCAI is the most frequently used survey instrument and it has been demonstrated to be an accurate assessment of organizational culture, but also a reliable indicator of organizational effectiveness.

  2. Competing Values Framework: The OCAI is based on the Competing Values Framework, an analytical tool that sorts 39 separate indicators of organizational success into four statistical clusters that describe four main organizational types: The Hierarchy (control culture), Market (compete culture) Clan (collaborate culture) and the Adhocracy (creative culture).

  3. Diagnostic Quantitative: Seeking insight by measuring specific dimensions of culture or looking for various typological models of the culture

  4. Diagnostic Qualitative: Seeking insight by using internally focused observations combined with individual or group interviews

Continue to Missionary Training Center - Part 2

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