This begins a series of excerpts from Patrick Nabwera’s master’s thesis on missionary attrition.
“Missionary” in his research means one who is sent to carry the Gospel across cultural boundaries to those who owe no allegiance to Jesus Christ and encouraging them to accept Him as Lord and saviour and to become responsible members of his church, working, as the Holy spirit leads, at both evangelism and justice, at making God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven (Adapted from McGavran’s definition of missions-McGavran 1983, 26).
All missionaries in this study are Kenyan. The name of this Kenyan mission and specific contexts have been omitted to help protect their ministry. The mission’s aim is to plant vibrant indigenous churches among the un-reached peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa and in the horn of Africa. The planted churches are to be both relevant and sensitive to the culture of the people.
In conducting his research, Nabwera interviewed [ethnographic interviews] seventeen current missionaries and six others who had left the mission. While this sampling is limited, it is a valuable beginning. I think all mission related people and organizations will find that these findings resonate with their experiences and will be helpful for helping them address missionary attrition.
The interviews showed that the main reasons missionaries quit are as follows:
- lack of financial support,
- difficulties in interpersonal relationships,
- marriage for singles,
- culture shock,
- resistance and hostility of radical Muslims,
- lack of quick conversion of the Muslims,
- a sense of God’s will for leaving,
- loss of vision, and
- lack of pastoral care.
Having experienced many of these problems first hand, Nabwera wanted to examine more thoroughly the causes of missionary attrition in order to propose ways of alleviating it.
Note: In 1995, Daystar University established that sixteen of the twenty-two unreached people groups in Kenya are Muslims (KUPNet 1995, iv), who live along the coast and in the northeastern parts of Kenya (1995, v). (KUPNet. 1995. A call to share: The unevangelized peoples of Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya: Daystar University.)
In the following days, we will excerpt a summary from the first four of these main reasons missionaries quit.
© Patrick Nabwera 2008