Monday, September 27, 2010

Kingdom Worker Attrition

For those who would like to study missionary attrition, here are some helpful resources.

What is attritionExamining the Faces of Attrition, by William Taylor in Mission Frontiers (1999):

Acceptable Attrition

"Acceptable" attrition arises from such causes as normal retirement, issues related to children (although some issues are a cover for unresolved parental conflicts), a legitimate job change, or health problems. In North America, with an older mission force, these are the top four reasons for attrition.

Preventable Attrition

Some attrition causes could be dealt with before or during field service: lack of home support (not just financial), problems with personal concerns, lack of call (dealt with before field service), inadequate pre-field training, poor cultural adaptation, and some others. The younger mission force faces their own causes of attrition, all perhaps preventable: lack of home support, lack of call, inadequate commitment, and disagreement with the agency.

Desirable but Unrealized Attrition

No formal study that I know of documents this fact, but some missionaries stay who should leave, and they compound the tragedy, in that their staying makes some of the better people leave. It can be a healthy thing to reduce the number of missionaries allowed to stay on the field, but this requires courageous, proactive leadership from the agency or responsible church.

Attrition Among the Vulnerable

Finally, there are "those vulnerable to attrition." What factors in a particular mission society or in a subteam of that agency, perhaps different from one national context to another, cause this segment to be vulnerable to attrition? Mission leaders are wise to address this issue right away.

What are the stats? From Frontline Ministries:

1 career missionary in 20 leaves the field every year.

47% leave their work within the first 5 years!

71% of these losses are for preventable reasons.

International, long-term missionary force estimated at 150,000 (very conservative), 7,650 missionaries leave the field annually!

Over a 4-year term, this number jumps to 30,600!

Over 21,000 of these losses are PREVENTABLE!

In one study, 49% of cases caused by relationship problems.

Top five causes of preventable attrition involve issues of character and relationships.

What are some ways to prevent attrition? A report from the “Reducing Missionary Attrition Project” (2005).


See also Preventing Discouragement and Keeping Church Planters Productive on the Field.


PaulLion said...

Bill Taylor shared many of the findings from the RemapII study at Urbana. If you are not a big reader maybe check out this link and listen, Most of the points from his book are covered during his talk.

Warrick Farah said...

Thanks! I'll be sure to check this out. It's a really important topic.