“Expect great times and bumpy times.”
As in any relationship in life, expect great times and bumpy times. Keep short accounts, and don’t let things build up. Remember you’re all on the same team and are there for the same purpose. Satan would love to divide you and dry up the work. You can have differences of opinion, but you can still love each other and continue long-term relationships with each other. By the grace and strength of God it can be done and done joyfully.
Answer from Carol, who has served with TWR for twenty-four years, including service in the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa.
“Preparation can reduce surprises and disappointments.”
The best way to get along with fellow missionaries is for everyone to be prepared. That means you should know as much as possible about them before you go out there, and they should know as much as possible about you. This includes your respective theological positions, your missiological values, your gifts and abilities, and your personality. This way there will be a minimum of surprises on the field, fewer disappointments, and better chances of getting along.
One good way to do some of these things is to have a “memorandum of understanding” about the goals and objectives of the missionary team, and how the team plans to accomplish these goals. When these things are clear to everyone, people tend to get along better. This MOU must contain a description of the process of changing these plans, because circumstances change.
Such a document generally weeds out people who should not be on a particular missionary team, because they will not agree with important parts of the MOU.
Answer from Alexander, who has served with People International in Central Asia for twenty-one years.
“We have to work with cultural differences – but it can be done.”
No group of people always gets along, but today we’re seeing more and more different nations sending missionaries (good thing) and that means we having to work with cultural differences beyond what you might expect coming into your target country.
Sensitivity is key; remember that you may not see the world in the same way as someone from another culture.
The most important thing I try to remember is that we’re on the same team. We may be from different countries, different agencies, and different denominations, but the main goal is the same. Talk about how you can work together to reach those goals. Find out what strengths and weaknesses each person adds. Try to work together. If that isn’t possible (we are still in a fallen world) try not to work against each other.
Answer from David in Canada, who has served with Into All The World in Tanzania for six years.