What Missionaries Ought to Know about Attrition

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

What Missionaries Ought to know… does not mean that the author sat down and decided what missionaries ought to know, but that missionaries themselves asked about these topics. During the author’s 35 years of college teaching he learned that if one person asks a question, others probably want to know the same thing—and if two people ask, it was certainly a topic that others need to know about. These are things missionaries need to know because several missionaries have asked about each of them at one time or another.

To read more from the What Missionaries Ought to Know series

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Resource Description


Sam and Vonda finally had all they could take. Vonda got diarrhea time after time, and Sam was so discouraged that he thought he might be clinically depressed. Their home church had a new pastor who had never met them, and he had persuaded the missions committee to cut their support in half.

They had a great idea for attracting people through teaching high-tech meditation, but both the field director and people at headquarters refused to let them use it. The field director always seemed to be critical of what they did and seldom encouraged them in any way. Other missionaries in their agency seemed to reject them as well, so they were lonely and their frustration was turning into anger.

After nine months of their two-year commitment, they purchased their plane tickets home on their own, packed up, and asked their parents to meet them at the airport.

Events like this have become too common. People spend months or years preparing to serve as missionaries. They raise many thousands of dollars to serve. Then they leave their place of service in a few months broken and discouraged. The missionary attrition problem became so serious by the end of the twentieth century that major studies of it were conducted.


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