The first step is to analyze the context and identify potential “educational” structures within the organization. Here the goal will be to determine the degree to which these structures do (or should) contribute to the educational goals. Such a step helps assure that the NCE toolkit contains pertinent tools without being redundant. In SEND NCE, pertinent existing structures with a kindred purpose include the Language and Orientation committee (L&O), the annual performance review procedure (PRF), NCE’s annual conference meeting and finally NCE leadership visits with staff.
SEND NCE places a high value on missionary language and cultural proficiency and this value is fostered by the L&O committee. When a new missionary arrives in the target country, they are placed under the care of the L&O committee until they achieve basic language proficiency. This process usually takes around two years, during which members of L&O encourage the language learners and coach them in the often difficult process of language and cultural acquisition. In terms of educational assessment, the L&O function of NCE is currently one of its most effective educational tools.
Annual performance reviews, or PRF’s are performed roughly annually with the help of one’s supervisor. The field staff reflects on and fills out the PRF form early in the year. The process provides opportunities to interact confidentially on areas such as acculturation, goals, and well being in spiritual matters, relationships, finances, health among others. The supervisor or team leader then reviews the form and discusses the results in a personal meeting with the staff member. The PRF procedure is an useful tool in identifying possible issues and concerns in a staff member’s service, as well as potential new directions of ministry and growth. The connection of the staff member with potential resources to achieving member goals is left to the initiative of the field staff or supervisor. With the development of an NCE training toolkit, additional resources will be readily available for taking positive steps of growth in the identified key areas.
A third potential educational opportunity is NCE’s Annual Conference meeting. Annual Conference is a time for making any decisions that require the entire membership, a time for fun, fellowship, and catching up with one another in sharing and prayer for our respective ministries. Traditionally, the conference meetings have also had an excellent children’s program, making it a positive time for the whole family. The annual conference has not been a time where much training had typically been planned. The times that training components were included, such as Johan Lukasse on church planting in Europe, the response was very positive. As a result, there is potential for strengthening the training aspect of these meetings on an ongoing basis. Having the staff together already in one place cuts down on travel costs for the training component.
The final existing structure with training potential is the NCE leadership visits with staff. These visits tend to focus on pastoral care and are an important part of SEND’s strength in the central value of member care. There is a potential that these visits could also serve in the educational task, but the pastoral task should not be compromised. The most natural way in which the leadership visits could be more intentionally educational is by informal modeling of life long learning and sharing fresh personal insights by leadership. Another aspect of leadership’s role in promoting member development is in the context of member care. As issues are encountered and problems uncovered, leadership can remind the members of pertinent tools from the educational toolkit (if such already exist) or provide new tools, if the toolkit is lacking in a particular area.
Ted Szymczak, Training Coordinator for SEND North Central Europe