CPH Welcoms OIM

On Thursday and Friday (March 5-6), Concordia Publishing House hosted the new missionary orientation and the regional directors meeting for the Office of International Mission. The missionary orientation begins and ends each day with worship, and then is followed by a series of lectures on both theological and practical topics. Pastor David Preus, pictured above, said,”This week of  missionary orientation is one of the most exciting events in my professional career.” Preus is working to complete his dissertation and will serve as a theological educator and congregational pastor in Latin America.

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Dr. Bruce Kintz welcomed the new missionaries to CPH. He spoke how CPH desires to produce materials the missionaries can use to help spread and proclaim the Gospel around the world. Kintz mentioned CPH’s offering of multi-lingual products along with the invitation for missionaries to write and to translate works that can assist their mission work. He also mentioned how CPH tries to assist missionaries with the International Mission Gift Registry which seeks to get books and materials to missionaries in the field.

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Dr. Detlev Schulz, former missionary to Botswana and Director of Missiology Department at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, introduced the missionaries to the field of missiology. He and his wife also described for the new missionaries what they could expect in the first year or two of life as a missionary in a foreign country in small group sessions. The missiological instruction provided by Dr. Schulz in the missionary orientation is just the beginning of study for the new missionaries, who will continue toward earning a Certificate in Missiology by taking online modules with Dr. Schulz for 48 weeks. In the near future, nearly all new LCMS missionaries should receive a certificate of missiology in the first year or two of service.

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The Regional Directors of the five world regions (Asia, East Africa, West Africa, Eurasia, Latin America) meet with the new missionaries during the orientation and get to know them during both formal and informal sessions. The Regional Directors also met for ongoing work to the OIM strategic plan and for additional training. The missiology Module 3: Missionary Preparation and Service in Perspective for this regional directors meeting was designed by Dr. Schulz and presented by Dr. Collver. It focused on the care of missionaries and the causes of attrition. An important recognition was that attrition in and of itself is a normal process that happens because, 1. Unpreventable Reasons such as normal retirement, political crisis, death, or a change in job; 2. Marriage and family reasons; 3. Personal Reasons such as immaturity, health problems, inadequate commitment, personal concerns, inability to adapt to a new culture and immorality; 4. Organizational Reasons such as home support (real or perceived lack of support), disagreement with the organization, or theological reasons; 5. Team Reasons such as interpersonal conflicts or problems with partner church leadership. Some of these items are not preventable while others are preventable through better training and mentoring. The regional directors and International Center staff developed a plan to better address the causes for missionary attrition. Part of this plan includes the tracking of attrition. International business organizations who deploy people and missionary organizations routinely report a yearly attrition rate of 30%. The Office of International Mission is glad to report that the attrition rate for 2014-2015 has been around 5%, well below the average of many mission organizations. The Office of International Mission and the Regional Directors are committed to continuing to improve the care that missionaries receive in the field. As the number of missionaries increases by God’s grace, missionary care and retention will be a significant effort of the mission leadership staff. In the near future, we will present more on this topic.

With week one completed of new missionary orientation, we look  forward to the second week.

— Rev. Dr. Albert Collver, Director of Church Relations / Regional Operations