The Benefits of Pre-Field Training

I Can’t Imagine Going Without This!

“The Center for Intercultural Training (CIT) provided us with a realistic idea of what we would encounter cross-culturally. We have referred back to our training countless times over the past three years since arriving on the field.”

“The BIGGEST benefit has been knowing what to expect emotionally so that when I’m struggling I can easily draw upon the things I learned and remember that what I’m feeling is ‘normal’.”

“We have gained so much from our experience at CIT. It has changed our entire outlook on the gospel and what that may look like in another culture.”

We hear these kinds of comments on a regular basis from many of the nearly 3,000 missionaries CIT has trained over the years.


But you might be one of those getting ready to leave for the field that questions whether you need this training. Is it worth the time and money? People are dying without a Savior, and you want to get the good news to them as soon as possible! If you feel this way, take heart. It is a great sign of your passion for the Lord and the urgency required to help a needy world.

Or maybe you ask why you need training since you have already engaged people from other cultures or even your ministry location. Or, because you know the Gospel, and it doesn’t change; no matter where you are, you should just charge ahead to proclaim Christ!

Many have said upon leaving CIT, “You don’t know what you don’t know”—even those who have come with advanced degrees. They discovered that even though they knew a lot, CIT had opened their eyes to a range of unknowns that needed knowing. Whether you are young and starting out or farther along in life, there is always more growing to do.

I won’t bore you with all the recent research that shows the importance of training, but here are a couple of tidbits:

  • 73.8% of the reasons given for missionary loss…could be addressed and corrected by more adequate and appropriate pre-field training.
  • Agencies with the lowest attrition rates had 50% more training requirements than those with higher attrition.

My experience as a field leader confirmed to me that many of the problems encountered by missionaries (and myself) could have been averted or at least minimized by good training in specific areas.

In the business world, a person moving into a new job is usually retrained and fitted with the right skills for the job. Why do some Christians not think this is necessary for new ministry opportunities, especially when crossing cultural boundaries?  Often it is out of ignorance.

Okay, you might be saying, I believe you. What are a few areas I need to consider as I move out around the world?

  • Spiritual Formation

You may be grounded in doctrine and know that the Gospel is the way we enter the Kingdom, but do you appropriate it for ongoing life change? Along with participants, we as a staff are still growing in what it means to live out of the resources we have in the Gospel. Here you will have the opportunity for a tune-up in your daily spiritual walk.

  • Personal Preparation

Are you ready for the challenges that hit every person, marriage and family, starting even before you leave “home”? Transitioning from life here involves many tumultuous emotions and good-byes, which you must process so you don’t fall apart, wondering if this is really God’s calling. Identifying realistic expectations can make the transition much smoother and reduce high levels of frustration.  Preparing for culture shock/self shock stress can certainly minimize the pain as you understand your raw emotional responses and come to terms with what is happening. One missionary wrote to me about this preparation,

“I wanted to write to tell you how much my wife and I have, on numerous occasions, looked back at our time in Union Mills and helping to prepare us for entering a new culture. In our limited time we’ve tracked many of the emotional twists and turns that we were told may come along. We remembered how this was like the point of a compass….

Marriage, family, and children’s issues are critical to missionaries’ well-being. Cross-cultural living tests marriages. If married, do you have a moveable marriage? One spouse’s poor adjustment can spell trouble for the family.  Children’s adjustment and education are also very important issues, which is why CIT’s program includes in-depth training for children. We have a terrific staff prepared to help your children prepare for departure, as well as a successful entry. One parent told us that their child had been resistant about going to the field, but after time in our Kids Intercultural Training program, the child was now willing and excited to go.  Think of the implications for that family—or yours!

  • Team, Interpersonal, and Conflict Management Skills

You will need these skills to function well on the field. The issues noted above can often negatively influence interpersonal issues.  In addition, you may be working with multicultural team members who think and respond differently. Conflict is handled differently across cultures, and you need to take appropriate actions so as not to offend.

  • Culture Preparation

When my wife and I arrived on the field, we were told that the mistakes you make in the first six months could haunt you for years.  A proper entry posture into the culture is critical. Many Westerners enter with an ethnocentric worldview, not aware of how culture has shaped them—even their guilt-based understanding of the Gospel. Can you hold your culture loosely and adapt? Communicate the truth of the Gospel in a shame-based or fear-based culture so that it is understood and accepted? Learn how to do that here!

  • Language Acquisition

Language is best learned in context, but in our language acquisition course you will identify your learning style, learn the strengths and weaknesses of various learning methodologies, and become more self-directed and motivated in the learning process.  Participants have said again and again that this training gave them confidence, inspired hope and reduced their fears about the often-overwhelming task of learning a language.  We have heard from experts in the field that folks with this kind of training are months ahead of the others!


Yes, taking a few weeks of your time and the effort to engage for training will position you for much greater effectiveness and longevity. Isn’t that what you want anyway? And won’t that glorify our Savior as more people around the world will give Him the worship and glory He deserves!

By: George Schultz D.Min.
Director, CIT Residential