04 March, 2015

How long should you give a missionary to speak?

Most churches, when we visit them to speak in their worship service, give us between two and seven minutes to speak. It doesn't escape our attention that it doesn't matter how long someone has been overseas: those who've been on a two week trip get the same amount of time as those who've been serving overseas for many years. From our perspective it doesn't seem quite right.

It must be noted, however, that missionaries have a bad reputation of being boring and longwinded. I know from experience that most people, missionary or not, when called on to do public speaking don't plan well and end up talking much longer than they were supposed to. So I guess in some ways it makes sense to say, "You have five minutes," while expecting that they're going to talk for twice that amount of time.

We missionaries have an obligation to be well prepared and stick to the guidelines the church gives us, even if we feel they are restrictive.

I found a lengthy, but helpful and practical article published by Barnabas about caring for missionaries when they're on home assignment. He has wise counsel to give churches:
"Be sure to give missionaries plenty of time and opportunity to report on how the Lord has used them in their ministry. Don’t just give them two minutes in a worship service or five minutes in a Sunday School class, no matter how many missionaries a church has or how important the sermon is. There’s a sense in which by denying missionaries a sufficient time to report, you’re denying them the possibility of fully sharing how “God worked through them” (Acts 14:27); thus your rejoicing with them is diminished and your giving glory to God for what He did is lessened as well."
We're thankful for opportunities like we'll have this coming weekend. We've been invited to the church camp of a supporting church in Canberra. It is a long journey to just speak for a short while on the Sunday, but instead we're allowed to not only speak to those at the camp for 40 minutes, but also to be present with them throughout the long weekend. I'm sure that I'll be exhausted after three days of answering questions over meal tables, but, nonetheless, it is a great opportunity!

1 comment:

Wayne said...

Frustrating! But you can hardly blame the churches. We've developed a bad rep for taking time on mic and not saying anything substantial.