Billy Beane and Missions

The Oakland A’s got a new GM a few years back named Billy Beane who has totally turned the program around from the bottom to the top of the pack. At the top of the list of changes he has made is that he questioned all traditional wisdom about baseball. What he found is that batting average is not all it is cracked up to be. Instead, through crunching some numbers he determined that the on-base average (a stat not even found on the back of the Topps cards) leads to a better team winning average though the batting average makes the individual player seem more impressive. So, he started hiring batters who knew how to get walked. They came cheaper got more done. Many felt threatened though, at the beginning.

So what about in your church? Have you ever noticed how we send our best young men off to bible colleges where they are often judged by their outward appearance? How do they look in a suit and part their hair? Do they sing well in the big choir and  learn to obey all the rules to the “t”? Do they accept with exuberance the indefensible pet doctrines of the institution making sure to blow the whistle on any dissident who dares to question the biblically of it all? The whole time it doesn’t seem to bother anybody that the guy has no original ideas, has never discipled anyone, and is often viewed as a complete Pharisee by his peers who watch him when the president of the college isn’t.

Fast forward to the mission field and the values that mattered back in the states are of little importance. Nobody cares how the guy looks with a part in his slick hair or if he would pass a white glove inspection of the dorms. Now the habit of questioning everything pays off as the missionary makes disciples who don’t come from the same christian background. He has biblical answers not a notebook from Dr. Bottlestopper. Now the ability to disciple men through moral failures becomes much more important than the ability to spot a rule being broken from a mile away and apply the appropriate demerits. Now his ability to sing a solo matters little compared to his ability to find and test new ways of outreach in his antagonistic environment. Before it mattered how silently he followed but now it matters how well he can lead. In this position on the field where no one is looking or cheering, the missionary that fails is the guy who was always striving for recognition. The guy who seemed to care a little too little about the opinions of others keeps going with bull-dog like determination.

So do you know how to identify those guys with the skill set that matters? What are some skills that are overemphasized in a young missionary trainee? What are some of the real skills to look for a develop?

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