A few weeks ago, I told you about a survey concerning career transitions for returned missionaries. Well, the results are in. I’ve written a long paper and an article which I could email you, but here is a quick look at the results.


Based on Anthony Parker’s September 2006 survey of returned Church of Christ missionaries

· Over half reported that career transition was a significant source of stress upon reentry.

· The majority received ongoing support for 1-3 months after return; 10% received no ongoing support; 20% received continuing support for 1 year or more (often working for their overseeing church or being supported by them in stateside ministry). Extended financial support is linked to lower transition difficulty.

· 70% reported that their churches were financially supportive; 60% said their sending congregations were emotionally & spiritually supportive.

· Emotional and spiritual support went hand-in-hand with healthy career adjustment.

· Least career adjustment difficulty – university teaching; most difficulty – self-employment or non church-related employment.

· Most former missionaries report being fulfilled in their post-field careers, but even more report having been fulfilled, and to a greater degree, on the mission field.

· Women reported a higher degree of difficulty in adjusting to career change than did men.

· Elements of a low-difficulty transition:

o Highly supportive sending churches.

o Post-mission field career stems from continuity with previous relationships.

o Continued connectedness to mission work

· Elements of a high-difficulty transition

o Perceived insensitivity on the part of sending churches

o Perceived expectations to quickly enter the American work force

o Lack of suitable credentials for stateside employment

o A failure to receive counsel

o Financial and business difficulties

o Difficult transition to dual-career family life

· Elements of moderate-difficulty transitions

o Flexibility in less-than-ideal circumstances

o A willingness to learn about themselves through their experience

o Functioning effectively while never completely adjusted

· Career transition advice from former missionaries to those planning for reentry

o Plan in advance for career change

o Solicit help from others

§ Colleagues and returned missionaries

§ Mentors

§ Leaders and members of supporting church(es)

§ Business contacts

§ Counselors – missionary reentry, financial, career

o Arrange for a transitional period by pursuing continued financial support upon return from the mission field; ideally, one month for every year on the field.

o Seek a ministry/missions-related career

· Recommendations for sending churches

o Make reentry provisions more generous for those with longer terms of service

o Allow a six-month no-pressure transition period

o Provide a livable income based on American economic realities

o Consider returning missionaries for local church staff openings

o Educate missions leadership and church regarding reentry challenges

· Recommendations for missionaries anticipating reentry

o Nurture professional relationships that can continue off the field

o Keep professional credentials current

o Pursue continuing education

o Get sound advice and counseling

o Educate sending churches

o Stay involved in God’s mission