Called, Not Qualified: A Backstory to the Controversy
Creating anything is really hard work. Creating something of value? Even harder. Starting a podcast around a vocation or industry with so much corruption inside a religious system that is already very splintered on it’s opinions and theology? Even harder.
I had the idea for Failed Missionary just under two years ago. Since it’s inception, the show literally went through 5 or 6 variations of a show. I’d sit down and start to work on it, and then trash it all together only to start over again. During those times, there were many interviews conducted and topics talked about but the direction was being sorted out.
I originally wanted to launch the show in January of 2017 but life was full and busy and at one point I questioned if I was even wanting to do it. Months would go by - emails would roll in asking where the show was at, and those emails led me to continue to actually doing it. I would sit down to work on it and begin to make progress…and that usually ended with me trashing it altogether and starting over. Rinse, wash, repeat - this was most of 2017.
By happenstance, I met Emily Worrall (1/2 of Barbie Savior) from an event in Chicago in 2016 and later met Jamie Wright (at a parenting conference of all places, ha!). We became good friends over the course of last year with a pretty active text thread and it helped me come to terms with the idea in my mind.
The one constant theme of the show since the very beginning has been to do a midrash / think-tank style as noted on the front page of the website. Midrash, in a Jewish tradition is wrestling with Scripture. With the show, instead of wrestling solely with Scripture (which we will get there soon) we are applying the concept to another topic (Missions, Missionary vocation, and all that comes with it). First came the ideas behind topical episodes and narratives, and then came the idea of revolving, interchangeable co-hosts for every series. But the idea since the inception of the show was that it would be a place of discussion in a way that would not provide direct answers or solutions from one specific person or the other, but that would get people talking and moving towards actual change.
Called, Not Qualified was the first experiment of that model. Because certain interviews were recorded and produced at much earlier times (although each interview asked the same questions since I knew the format), the stance of the co-hosts caught the very early guests off guard. That is my error and I take ownership over that. Looking back, I could have switched up the co-host chemistry, but I went with what I thought was best. I have extended the invitation to both guests to join me as a co-host for a debrief episode should they feel that they want to process through their thoughts post production of the series.
The reality is, the show will always have people whose thoughts on theology and praxis are vastly different. I am not aiming to create an echo chamber or align with a particular group who shares a specific thought. I don’t have answers to the madness that is the missions industry (news flash: no one does entirely). But I do believe in a genuine conversation with all perspectives getting a voice and talking about the elephant in the room.
Failed Missionary is a place for the broken people, very put together people, bitter people, and everyone in between to reimagine faith, spirituality and how we interpret this thing known as “the great commission.”
Is the show based in cynicism and bitterness? No. But it is based in honest critique, which all guests will always share. It’s an honest show with honest people in all places.
Could we do better? Of course, and we will. It’s a learning curve.
It should also be noted that this is a show, with a full season. Called, Not Qualified is just a small opening series. If you came to the series looking for complete answers - you came with the wrong intentions. You have to wrestle with it and think critically for yourself. If you enjoy it, and that’s your thing…then come back for further episodes if you want.