Coaching by Design
The need for strong leaders has never been doubted, but how to acquire these leaders has become the single greatest need facing all mission agencies in North America. With this in mind, imagine our excitement to have 11 units (ten couples and one single) applying for career service with Fellowship International.
Some of our applicants are applying before they have completed the necessary training, which puts the onus on us to arrange for relevant education before they can be deployed. Traditionally mission agencies have refused to provide focused missions training to their people. Instead they referred applicants to Bible schools and Seminaries in order to fulfil the academic requirements. This model of training frequently failed to provide the required practical skills and further entrenched the student in a specifically North American Corporate Church model. This model must be “unlearned” by the student in order to be effective while serving in diverse cultures.
There are two primary shifts that Fellowship International has embraced. The first is a move to focus on Disciple Making Movements (DMM) through which our missionaries are focused in their work as catalyzers, empowering nationals by equipping them for ministry. This is a radical shift from the model of missionary as a church planter who quickly becomes a pastor, to a missionary who works with others, equipping them to do the work.
The second shift is to provide an educational pathway for our missionaries that includes mentors who walk with them as they gain academic knowledge. This is the heart of the Immerse program pioneered by the Fellowship Pacific Region and the Northwest Baptist Seminary. The Immerse M.Div. is a rigorous degree program, requiring an average of 20 hours of work per week in an active ministry context, including one-on-one coaching. The development that we’ve seen in our new missionaries as they undergo this program is fantastic! One of our current students recently given conditional appointment is Wayne Van Der Merwe, who writes this about the program;
“One of the most valuable experiences from the Immerse program is the interaction with people on the mission field. Hearing their perspectives on how things play out in a practical manner is invaluable. It gives a unique perspective on how things happen on the mission field”.
Immerse gives us flexibility because it can be implemented in any location that has reliable internet. This means that studies can continue after a candidate has been appointed and deployed to their field. Applied learning, coached outcomes, a genuine degree, and portability make this program unique and effective.
Within the same vein of missionary education, one hallmark of Fellowship International is our C.I.C.A modules (Competence as Intercultural Change Agents). Each of these modules forms part of the ongoing professional development that we require of our missionaries. Like Immerse, each module depends on interaction between our personnel from different fields. Working together in this way produces rich, vibrant, and unifying outcomes and concrete learning experiences. Dr. Mark Naylor, who designs and administrates these modules, has been of massive benefit to our mission family and their continued development.
These intentional shifts and the hands-on tools used to implement them have given Fellowship International a greater advantage in our work. Through them we are seeing leaders being multiplied and equipped to serve in their chosen fields around the globe.