I’m grateful to a friend on Facebook (that’s you, Ray) for pointing me to this excellent blog post which gives ten ways to ensure that missionaries leave the field early. I’ll give you a couple of examples, but you need to read the whole thing:
Promote the Savior Complex
You CAN change the world! YOU can change the world! You can change the WORLD! Be sure to nurture the idea that YOU the missionary are different from all those who have come before. Where other groups who don’t share your particular theology or philosophy of ministry have failed, YOU will succeed. Once you get the language under your belt (1 year is more than enough, right?), you will set to work in virgin territory, single-handedly starting a church planting movement, wiping out human trafficking, or finally contextualizing the Gospel correctly. YOU have what it takes and YOU can do it. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Don’t let anyone trouble your great ideas and radical strategy by citing reality, history, or experience.
Emphasize Right Methodology
Mission leaders should pick some particular trendy methodology as THE most effective to reach people with the Gospel quickly. The methodology doesn’t need to have a strong foundation in Scripture. Prooftexting from the book of Acts will be sufficient to dismiss the objections of dissenters. Promote this methodology as THE way that your mission will work, and put all your hope in this particular methodology. If that particular methodology doesn’t seem to be bearing fruit, hang onto it for as long as possible, ignoring the fact that it is not the silver bullet to reaching the nations. For individual missionaries, choose some guaranteed method for a short-time and leave out the parts you don’t like. When it doesn’t work, keep going to seminars and conferences looking for the next best thing that is sure to work. Keep doing this until you are exhausted, just don’t care anymore, or get bitter at the local people for not responding to the method as the people in the case study did.