This past weekend I was invited to lead workshops on B4T at the Missio-Nexus; a conference of 250+ evangelical CEOs of mission organizations and other leaders. I shared a vision for doing missions better; a vision that focuses on the need for each mission agency to specialize in the areas which God has assigned them. I asked the question, “How many of you are attending this workshop so you can learn what I teach and then copy it in to your own organization?” Many raised their hands. I challenged these leaders to stop copying what every other mission agency is doing and strive to develop their strengths and then outsource their weak areas (those areas God has not assigned them to do) to others.
The OPEN network already is doing training, equipping, coaching and mentoring of B4T workers, so why do other mission agencies need to copy OPEN? This copying wastes valuable resources in that multiple agencies are paying people to provide the same services. This also is a distraction for staff who are likely needed in other areas that they are more competent. People are most productive when they work in their areas of strength. When we work outside of our strengths it lowers the quality of B4T service to that agency’s workers. We should have practitioners and more experienced workers are doing the B4T training or coaching or mentoring.
I also asked them, “Which mission agency provides the best member care services?” And, “Who can guarantee that your mission agency has the best short-term training?” No hands were raised this time, but as one CEO confessed later, “We all felt our own agency has the best of everything, but when you think about it, that’s impossible.”
That’s exactly what I was seeking, for each leader to THINK about what they are doing and what God has assigned them to do. In my experience, too many mission agencies are distracted from their main calling because they are busy providing supplemental services for their workers, services which can easily be provided by other agencies who specialize in such services.
We discussed the need to overcome our tendencies to be all things to all the workers in our respective mission agencies thereby distracting us from the main assignment God created in birthing each agency. Each mission agency’s distraction with providing services which are not a part of its core competencies only ensures that each agency’s services and the people providing those services are at best average. I exhorted them that one way to upgrade the services and leadership that mission workers receive on the field, is to outsource those services to other mission agencies which specialize in those areas.
The idea of outsourcing and working only in our core competency was new to many, generating good discussion. If mission agencies would learn to work together in their areas of strength, it would save money while raising the quality of service field workers receive. The world is changing and though the message remains the same, the tools and strategies for servicing those on the front lines needs to adapt to these changes.
If a lot more of the training and support items that mission agencies do were spun up into services and made available to others, it would be a huge bonus for innovative support mechanisms.
I'm envisioning a world where an individual can “build their own support plan” or organizations can realize that some other organization can provide the same level of service for half the cost.
To my mind, a *prime* candidate for outsourcing is the processing of donations. Another is pre-field cross-cultural training. Another is counseling services or retreat centers.
Excellent comment. I too envision such a world where each person can choose their own support plan, in fact we are building such ways to do this, though admittedly it is in its infancy. The Nexus, a 21st century missions model has been birthed. There's no website as it is purely a relational model. The SP Net is now live http://spnet.allegrosolutions.org/ where you can find services which will help you to build your own support structure.