Chemistry: Will I Be a Good Fit on the Mission Field?

The 4 C’s: Calling, Character, Chemistry, Competency

Article by Daniel Topf, PhD

Besides Calling and Character, we at World Team emphasize another key concept that starts with the letter “C” when it comes to describing the kind of candidates we are looking for. That word is Chemistry, which can be helpful in determining what kind of missions agency may be right for you and how you would fit into a specific team on a particular mission field. In the following, we will highlight a few points that you may want to consider.

Theological essentials and non-essentials

When you start serving with a missions agency, this means you will be joining a Christian organization and, in such an environment, theology matters. As you are looking at different sending agencies, you will therefore want to find out more about what they believe and where they are located on the theological spectrum.1

While you need to be able to identify with the statement of faith of the organization you wish to work for, you also must be able to adapt and show a certain amount of flexibility.2 World Team, for instance, is an interdenominational missions agency, which means not everybody you work with may have the exact same beliefs and convictions like you do. In order to operate successfully in such a context, it will be helpful to follow the classic adage: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love.”

“World Team has been recognized as a missions agency that focuses on planting churches among unreached people groups, and that is still our passion today.”

The culture and ethos of a missions agency

Besides their statement of faith, you may also want to find out more about the vision, values, and culture of the missions agency you are considering. The size of the agency and what countries they serve in can also be important considerations. One way to learn more about a particular organization is to look at their history, and how they have developed over time. You may also want to look for an opportunity to visit an agency’s office or one of their other locations, so that you have the opportunity to interact with some of their missionaries and staff.

For example, World Team is a medium-size agency whose roots go back to 1873, and for many years our organization was known as RBMU (Regions Beyond Missionary Union). Throughout its long history, World Team has been recognized as a missions agency that focuses on planting churches among unreached people groups, and that is still our passion today.3 A great opportunity to get to know World Team in depth is during RACE (Reciprocal Assessment & Candidate Evaluation). This 7-day candidate assessment program takes place in Warrington, PA and is designed to help you consider your goodness-of-fit with World Team’s church-planting ministry. RACE will include training, teamwork, interviews, testimonies, prayer, mentoring, and exploring the needs and opportunities in the world today.4 World Team also has a 1-day virtual event called EXPLORE, which is an excellent way of better understanding what we as an agency are all about.

Fitting into a team

Besides finding out what agency may be right for you, you also need to look into how well you would fit into a particular team. You may want to ask yourself questions like: Do I see myself as a pioneer, or would I rather be part of a more established team? What are my spiritual gifts? Am I more of an extrovert or an introvert? What role(s) would I play in a church-planting team? Do I see myself primarily as a pastor, evangelist, equipper of nationals, or …? (See also the following Bible passages: Rom., 12: 3–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11; Eph. 4:11–16; 1 Peter 4:8–11).5

Finding the right field

Geography is not the most important aspect of becoming a missionary, but it certainly does play a role. At some point, you will have to decide where you want to serve. Maybe you already feel called to a specific country or ethno-linguistic people group. Or maybe you have a passion to serve the adherents of a particular religion, such as reaching out to Muslims. You may also want to consider if you see yourself working in rural or in urban areas, and whether you want to serve in a developing country (like Cameroon, or the Philippines) or in an affluent and secularized society, such as France or Spain. For these and other questions, World Team has designed the “Find Your Fit Survey”, to help you identify preferences and values that may aid in finding the right mission field for you.

Points to Think and Talk About

  • What are the non-negotiables that would hinder your involvement in working with a team if other team members disagreed with you on this particular issue? (For example, issues like using tongues in private prayer; questions related to the eternal security of the believer; drinking a glass of beer or wine if culturally appropriate; differences on church government).
  • If you have looked at other agencies, why do you have a particular interest in World Team? What is it about our purpose, vision, and values that make you think there is a good fit?
  • What are your spiritual gifts and how do you see them being used in cross-cultural ministry to start and facilitate church multiplication?
  • In what kind of country or geographical region of the world would you like to serve? Is there a particular people group (or religion, demographic, etc.) that God has placed on your heart?
  • If you already have an idea what team you would like to be working with: What attracted you to that particular team?

Endnotes / Suggestions for Further Reading

  • 1 See also various sections in Steve Hoke and Bill Taylor, Global Mission Handbook: A Guide for Crosscultural Service (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
  • 2 For World Team’s Statement of Faith, see: Statement of Faith | World Team USA.
  • 3 A missions classic describing the pioneer work of RBMU/World Team is Don Richardson’s Peace Child (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2005). For a detailed history of World Team, see Joseph F. Conley, Drumbeats That Changed the World (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2000)
  • 4 RACE is a crucial element in World Team’s application process: RACE | World Team USA.
  • 5 Many more questions can be asked regarding choosing the right team, as outlined by Ellen Livingood, “Is This the Team for Me? Questions to Determine Fit on a Field Team,” Catalyst Services (June 2013), Is-This-the-Team.pdf (