Radius International is distinct in at least four ways: our emphasis on outcome-based training, our focus on character, our focus on key competencies, and our reliance on sound missiology.
What makes for a successful cross-cultural church planter? What do missionaries need to understand (know) in order to be effective? What skills do they need to master (do) before arriving on the mission field? What character qualities (be) do they need in order to thrive in the midst of a difficult, dangerous, and stressful cross-cultural environment?
Radius International bases its training on a vision of the “ideal” cross-cultural church planter. We believe that a successful missionary will embody key elements in each of these “know,” “do,” and “be” categories. Our training is based upon this holistic approach and seeks to build each of these components into the lives of our missionaries.
The rigors of the mission field demand far more than familiarity with textbooks and classroom training. Many missionaries become ineffective or return from the mission field early because they are unable to handle the high-stress and high-risk situations that inevitably arise.
Because of this, Radius International uses “designed stress” to simulate stressful situations that arise on the mission field. At various times, trainees are intentionally separated from electronics and communication, deprived of privacy, and placed in situations that require survival skills. Trainees are challenged and evaluated in their response to these simulations.
This type of training is patterned more after a medical internship or a boot camp than a traditional classroom model. We believe that this approach builds the necessary knowledge, skill, and character into our missionaries and therefore prepares them to minister effectively in the midst of the incredibly challenging environments they will face on the mission field.
Another leading factor in missionaries becoming ineffective is the inability to make necessary sacrifices in becoming a full member of the people group they are trying to reach. This includes the persistence and devotion required to learn another language with fluency as well as the attention, humility, and discernment needed to adopt another culture.
What do cross-cultural candidates have to be able to do in order to be effective on the field? This is the question most often ignored by training organizations. Radius International focuses on three crucial competencies.
The first competency is language acquisition. We train students to understand principles of phonology, grammar, vocabulary, and discourse; to use applied phonetics and phonemics; and to apply basic principles of translation and literacy. Our students understand the commitment necessary to learn a new language and are given the tools to learn both written and unwritten languages.
The second competency is culture acquisition. We train students to apply practical anthropology, conduct ethnographic interviews, and identify the values, themes, and worldview of the target culture. We also train them to communicate the Gospel in a way that is at the same time culturally relevant and biblically accurate.
The third competency is cross-cultural church planting. We train students in the stages of church planting—from initial contact with a community, to appropriate forms of evangelism, to discipleship and leadership training, to developing a well-defined exit strategy.
In our efforts to mobilize the church for cross-cultural church planting, we have found that a surprising number of training organizations are not built upon sound missiological principles. This is an area of great concern. Even within reputable missions circles, many seem to have become enthralled by quick and easy gimmicks. They want to identify the “silver bullet” that will slay the monster of resistance and unbelief. They want long-term results with short-term investments. Some have even made the under-preparedness of workers one of their core values.
Radius International stands firmly on principles of long-term incarnational ministry and highly values consistent, systematic teaching of the Word in the heart language of the hearers, deep relationships forged in the fire of living life together, and witness that consists of words, deeds, and character. Our training is built upon the following convictions:
We believe strongly that missiology should be based on the example of Jesus, who said, “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” Our missiology is intentionally modeled after the message, method, and power of the cross.