Re-Thinking Missions: A Laymen's Inquiry after One Hundred Years

By William Ernest Hocking; Laymen's Foreign Missions Inquiry. Commission of Appraisal | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
PROBLEMS OF ADMINISTRATION

1. Missionary Personnel

Critical importance of the problem. The history of Protestant missions is a story of the influence of personality upon individuals and communities. The selection and preparation of missionaries is therefore the critical point of the entire enterprise. During the hundred and more years since the work began, the process of selection has been profoundly altered. In the first place, the great growth in the volume of the undertaking has tended toward rigid and mechanical devices for the purpose. Secondly, the increasing diversity of the missionary program has widened the range of qualifications upon which selection is determined. In the third place, a gradual change in the attitude of Christian people toward the purposes and functions of missions has been reflected in the number, type, and motivation of candidates for missionary service.

Changing motivation and diminishing supply. The results of rapid growth and increasing complexity will be discussed later in connection with simplification and unity in organization. The questions of changing motivation and diminishing supply call for comment here. The candidate secretaries of the several boards have been faced during the past few years with a startling decrease in the number of men and women offering themselves for missionary service. The falling off of funds which has necessitated a reduction of the missionary force has obscured the extent of the decline, but it is none the less real.

The Student Volunteer Movement is dying out of the great colleges and universities. The records of the Movement justify

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