Friday, May 13, 2005

Treated as professionals

Professional Missionary?

A definition of a professional in our society involves extensive training and being mentored and nurtured to be knowledgeable and competent in a given field. Professions, in our society, include physicians, lawyers, pharmacists, dentists, and ministers.

These people enjoy great respect in our society, We tend to believe them because of their training, education, credentials, and commitment to ethical behavior. They are "professional."

Why is JFJ seemingly the only religious organization that does not treat its ministers as professionals? Why do they choose, too often, to deal with their highly trained (maybe even regimented) ministry staff with suspicion and supervision appropriate only for a habitual alcoholic or a habitual liar?

I've heard that JFJ used to have as part of its worker's covenant, that they would treat their workers appropriately as ministers of the Gospel. That is, until one worker left citing that JFJ had broken their covenant with him and their treatment of him was not in keeping with his position as a minister of the Gospel. Needless to say, that phrase was quickly deleted from the Worker's Covenant. And for YEARS I heard this ex-staffer's name reviled by an executive as being the worst kind of covenant breaker! I found out the last tirades of this executive against him to the staff occurred when he sent Moishe a letter forgiving him of his sins against him.

Professionals in our society are given high discretion work. So why are the professionals in JFJ not given any discretion in their ministry? For example, they are given an extremely short window of time to minister to someone while on the street, and time limits on personal visits to minister to people off the streets. No exceptions. Why does JFJ train, then over-supervise, staff, allowing no or little professional discretion? JFJ does not allow their missionaries to manage their own lives or to live up to professional standards. Rather, they constantly need to validate their workers, making sure that the worker complies with every jot and tiddle of their policies and procedures in every aspect of their life.

Imagine a pastor needing to account for every 15 minutes of his day, having an elder periodically search his briefcase, or his bedroom unannounced. Or needing to tell his board how many letters he wrote, phone calls, and the nature of the ministry, how many rest home patients he visited, and their spiritual status. Then he would get feedback if he had used his time wisely. It would be ridiculous. And no pastor would stand for it for professional reasons. Also, because that kind of supervision is inefficient, and counter-productive; wasteful of his time that could be better spent doing his job: To minister.

Ministry is a spiritual service. How can a minister be regimented by rote procedure, and not use his objective training, to try to find ways specific to that situation to solve problems? Why is the Holy Spirit not allowed to lead a worker to spend two hours, with a person in need?

And why does JFJ require theological training for all of its missionaries? They never get to use any of the training. They never get to preach, except for one entirely scripted message that cannot be altered. Not even one word! The only reason for the training that I can think of is so that JFJ can force the new missionaries to continue working for them in order to pay off their educational loan!

In effect, JFJ may really have many 10 year interns, and no MINISTERS in the field at all!


Anonymous said...

If I had been treated as a profession by Jews for Jesus, I'd still be working for them.

Anonymous said...

If I were considered a professional by people outside of Jews for Jesus then I wouldn't be out of work--still--many years after leaving Jews for Jesus.

The rest of the world knows JFJ isn't professional. It sucks having them as the only real thing on a resume.

Anonymous said...

Forget being treated like a professional, how about being treated as an adult?

I remember a son of a senior missionary was astounded when I told him that I leave my new, secular job when I want to provided I put my time in.

I told him that this is what it's like to be treated as an adult.

Anonymous said...

Sad and very true