This the second post in a series. The first post was titled The Most Challenging Missionary Candidate Question.
Before the missionary candidacy interview, the interviewing team should have finished their homework in terms of who this person is, their background, where they are going, and what they will be doing. These are things that the missionary should not spend the interview time talking about. If any point needs clarification, do so briefly, but avoid having the person repeat things they have written to you about. Try to focus your interview on things that are important for you as a church. Your goal is to determine whether this person’s work will advance the vision of your church globally. So, pick your questions carefully. Here are some suggested questions to ask.
Share with us how God worked to bring you to faith in Christ. First of all, you want to make sure that you are sending out a believer. That is important. Is there a clear evidence of conversion?
What is your understanding of the gospel message that is necessary for salvation? Any missionary going to the mission field will say that they will work to see that people come to faith in Christ. Easy to say. But, what is the message that they are taking to the nations? Listen for clarity in their understanding of the gospel message of salvation. One of the key things to listen for is how they understand the message of salvation in the context of the over arching story line of the whole Bible.
Tell us the story of the Bible. You can create a scenario where the missionary finds himself among people who cannot read but need to hear the gospel. They know nothing about the Bible. How would this missionary help them? What is the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation? You are listening for a basic understanding of how the Bible fits together.
Describe your biblical foundation for missions. Listen for the biblical foundation for his or her sense of calling and for missions. A strong answer will cover both the Old and New Testaments.
Describe for us your sense of call into this ministry. Is it clear that God has been preparing this person for the work to which he feels called? How has God worked in this process of call? If one is truly called by God for a ministry, he would have been working in his life over the years in ways that makes that call clear. The evidence will differ from person to person, but listen for clear evidence of call.
How have you prepared for this ministry that you are called to? This question goes along with the previous one. It is also a very important question and churches should not take this lightly. If a person has spent the last ten years studying engineering, but now wants to train pastors overseas, that should be a problem. The standard for preparing pastors for ministry here at home should be applied for the training of ministers for the churches overseas. So, listen for whether the candidate is qualified to do what he is setting out to do.
If for some reason you are not able to go to the mission field, what kinds of jobs are you qualified to do here? This goes with the question of preparation/qualification. He should be able and qualified to do here what he is seeking to do on the mission field.
Given what you will be doing, how do you see it fitting with the vision statement of our church? This question requires that the missionary must have studied your church and known you and is interested in you not just for the money. He or she should be able to make a case for why you should support him in light of your own vision statement.
What are your core theological values? This question is intended for full disclosure. Where are you theologically similar or different? There will be differences and you are not only to send people that agree with you a hundred percent. Yet, you do not want the missionary to be worried about communicating the challenges of their work if some are particularly theological. You also do not want to send a missionary who will teach contrary to the theological core values of your church.
The interview process for a missionary is important. If you are to invest time, prayer, finances, and personal care in this candidate in order to fully support them, you want to know whom it is you are supporting!