Building a well-functioning team anywhere takes intentional effort. The diversity of missionary teams made up of volunteer and career missionaries from many cultural backgrounds and age groups, requires even more patience and persistence to work well.
Understanding the differences can be the start of building a missionary team that demonstrates God’s love by loving one another.
My Culture vs. Your Culture
As one missionary recently said, ” I don’t have any trouble with the local people; it’s the missionaries from ______ that I can’t get along with!”
So often the multicultural nature of the missionary team means that missionaries must adapt to several cultures in addition to the local culture.
Every missionary team becomes a unique culture of its own made up of the various cultures of its members.
Recognize that if there are a number of missionaries from one culture, that cultural style will likely predominate in patterns of communication and conflict management.
When new missionaries arrive, their task is to learn not only the local culture but also, the team culture.
Missionary teams need to constantly remember that their reason for being is to witness to the local people and adjust their team culture to best fulfill that purpose
Younger vs. Older
Each generation, shaped by different life events, absorbs a unique package of values and beliefs.
In addition, the longer one lives, the more one is formed by life’s trials and joys.
Older missionaries may feel that if they suffered certain trials then younger missionaries should suffer similar trials.
Younger missionaries may believe that older missionaries are inflexible and old-fashioned.
Older missionaries need to remember what it was like to be young and lonely and far away from home and be willing to provide love and support and acceptance.
Younger missionaries need to understand that experience does count for something and that older missionaries can teach them a lot if they are willing to be patient learners.
From Passport to Mission, 3rd edition, pp. 156