Tuesday 24 July 2007

Member Care Training—Historical Perspectives

Here are a few quotes over the last 15 years concerning training in member care.
More specifically, these quotes are consistent appeals for the creative and strategic development of quality training around the world.

One of the pressing issues facing the missions community today is the care of its people. This is especially true of those who are pioneering work among the unreached, where isolation, social opposition, political unrest, spiritual warfare, and a lack of supportive care can incapacitate even the most robust, committed missionaries….The goal then, is not just raising up more member care resources. Rather the goal--or agenda, if you will--is to strategically raise up and direct these resources so as to put greater closure on the Great Commission….I now outline several ideas for further developing member care resources and services….

3. Training
Training programs in member care areas are needed, as are continuing education opportunities for member care workers. It would be helpful to develop a missions component or track within several existing graduate programs in counseling, psychology, and human resources. Likewise it would be important to include a member care track in seminaries and mission departments.

a. Develop member care tracks in Christian graduate schools. Identify several key programs in which to develop such a track. Some possible schools would be those represented at the Rech Conference, which focused on training issues for Christian graduate programs in psychology (Tan & Jones, 1991). As part of the training, include a core course on "member care in missions" as well as the "Perspectives on the World Christian Movement" course. Where there is no specialized track available, consider offering a three day seminar, or better, an elective course on member care. Also develop practicums and internships with supervision for students wanting to prepare for work in member care. Include practical short-term experience overseas in a missionary role as part of the training.

b. Organize seminars and workshops on member care areas at conferences where there is an interest in member care in missions. Examples would include the conferences sponsored by the IFMA/EFMA, the Christian Association for Psychological Studies, the Association of Christian Schools International, and the International Conference on Christian Counseling. Also continue to provide workshops at ongoing conferences related to member care, e.g., Enabling the Missionary, Mental Health and Missions Conference, and ICMK.

c. Encourage and provide workshops for member care workers within mission agencies themselves. Train missionaries in basic people-helping skills, either pre-field or else while they are on the field. This would strengthen their ability to offer mutual support to each other. Team, department, and ministry leaders would be strategic candidates for this training. Training could be done in coordination with several programs, such as the Pastoral Counseling Institute or YWAM's College of Counseling and Health Care.

d. Hold member care consultations and conferences at different places around the world. Include nationals as part of the steering committee. Regional consultations will provide a sharper focus and greater opportunity for specific issues to be discussed.

excerpts from An Agenda for Member Care in Frontier Missions, International Journal of Frontier Missions,1992, Kelly O’Donnell

…there is a need to deliberately join together with a core group of like-minded colleagues in order to further develop the member care field, especially within frontier missions…we want to see a solid group of motivated, creative member care friends come together and go after some "do-able" projects. Here are some possibilities…

3. Training
*Find ways to equip national Christians and mission leaders with member care skills.
*Teach at key graduate schools, such as a course on member care.
*Develop practicum opportunities in missionary care for graduate students.

excerpts from For Everything There is a Season and a Summons;
personal email to several member care colleagues; Kelly and Michèle O’Donnell, July 2006

Developing member care well is a process....I believe that there must be an intentional and Spirit-led direction as to how this global member care net is developed. Here are five such directions—PACTS—which will help us to work together and further “provelop” member care. PACTS involve forming close relationships with colleagues as we pursue cooperative tasks with each other...

3. Continuing Growth/[Self] Care:
Member care is an interdisciplinary field, requiring considerable effort to keep abreast of new developments and to maintain one’s skills. Prioritize time to read, attend seminars, and upgrade (see the materials listed in chapter 50). Grow! It would be helpful for some to link with a few of the secular umbrella agencies…Build connections and bridge gaps between the “faith-based” and “non-faith-based” organizations involved in international health, exchanging information on the management and support of personnel. Some examples would be attending conferences, reading journals, and reviewing the peer support network and psycho-social support program for staff offered by humanitarian aid organizations…We must not become isolated by interacting solely with the evangelical community. Also, member care can be a burnout profession. So we must maintain accountability with others, pace ourselves, find ways to “refuel” emotionally, seek God, and practice what we preach!

4. Training:
Resource missionaries and member care workers alike via workshops at conferences. Impart both your skills and your life (1 Thess. 2:8)! Include member care tracks at major conferences. Teach member care courses, seminars, and modules at key graduate schools/seminaries, including the Bible colleges in Africa and India and the missionary training centers in Asia and Latin America. Training in peer counseling, marriage enrichment, family life, team building, spiritual warfare, and crisis intervention are especially important (see chapters 15, 16, and 37 for examples). Further, help mission personnel from both NSCs and OSCs develop member care skills (e.g., by attending the “Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills” courses that are taught in many places). Also assist in developing member care programs which are culturally relevant. There could be opportunities to join with groups such as Youth With A Mission and Operation Mobilization, which offer counseling courses in different locations to train their missionaries in helping skills, or the Operation Impact program at Azusa Pacific University, which provides various field-based courses in the area of leadership development.

Extracted from the “PACTS” sections in:
**Member Care in Missions: Global Perspectives and Future Directions”, Journal of
Psychology and Theology
, 1997. Kelly O’Donnell
**To the Ends of the Earth, To the Ends of the Age, Introduction, Doing Member Care Well , 2002, Kelly O’Donnell

2000 Special Note:
In November 2000 there was a special meeting on member care training at the November Mental Health and Missions Conference, Indiana USA. It was organised and facilitated by Kelly O’Donnell. About 10 colleagues attended to discuss the member care courses (mostly “overview” courses) that they or other colleagues were presenting. The desire to further coordinate and network together in this area was obvious, although no concrete outcome towards this end resulted.

One of our guiding principles as a working group was to consider both current and new resources for supporting the diversity of mission/aid workers among UPGs. This principle is reflected in Christ’s conclusion to the Kingdom parables. “Therefore every scribe that has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of the house that brings from his treasure new things and old things” (MT 13:52). Here now are 12 such treasures—current and future resources—that we believe are crucial for member care.

Treasure 7. Training and More Training
Member care is not just a “specialist” function—something to be only provided by “professionals”. Rather it is essential to further equip various member care workers (MCWs), leaders, senders, and mission personnel themselves with “special” member care skills. These skills help to sustain workers for the long-haul. Strategic, ongoing training is needed all around the world! It includes such areas as: counselling, crisis care/debriefing, organisational systems/dysfunction, interpersonal skills, personnel development, and family/marriage. One course in particular that continues to make its international rounds is the one week intensive “Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills” (www.itpartners.org). Offering member care-related courses via the internet (e.g., http://www.headingtoninsitute/. org), and via workshops at conferences, are also good ways forward.

**12 Treasures for Member Care: Future Directions www.ethne.net/membercare/resources
Kelly O’Donnell on behalf of the Ethne Member Care Working Group

Reflection and Discussion
1. What are some ways to realise the above suggestions and aspirations?
2. What are some of the hindrances?
3. Any additional suggestions to see a coordinated and comprehensive approach for training internationally?
4. How might you or your organisatoin contribute with further training resources?
5. What additional training would you like personally?

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