I’ve always been fascinated by studies on the concept of motivation Take “home field advantage” or “HFA” for instance. A 2006 study by The Times, a daily national newspaper in the UK,  found that in the highest league of soccer teams in England (the English Premier league), a home team can expect to score 37.29% additional goals than an away team. In another study (reported in the Journal of Sports Sciences) of teams in the same league, a researcher looked at over 5000 games between the years 1992-2006. He found a statistical correlation between the size of the home crowd and its corresponding impact on HFA. In other words, for every additional 10,000 people attending, home field advantage increased by 0.1 goals. Bottom line: According to these and other studies, there’s an advantage to playing at home.

Which is one thing missionaries rarely get to do.

Think about it: They have to travel far away. They leave their own farms, beds, pets, vehicles, and their favorite home-cooking. They say goodbye to friends, extended family, and favorite hobbies & recreation. In place of all these and other items, they have to pick up a foreign language, drive a foreign car, eat foreign food, and find foreign addresses to meet with foreign people who dress in foreign clothing and view life through a foreign worldview.

Where’s the home field advantage in all that?

If missionary life is similar to soccer, there’s a strong chance they’ll score fewer goals. No wonder we have unreached people groups.

Does that mean we should fold up shop and quit doing missions? No way. Instead of competing for goals in the back of a net, we’re wrestling with Satan for the souls of people we’ve come to love and respect. Missions is certainly worth the investment — and as every “visiting” soccer team knows, it’s still possible to win those “away games,” if we prepare thoroughly, follow our game plan closely, and never, never quit.

So how ’bout you? Have you ever felt like you were playing an “away game” on the mission field? If so, please share your testimony, insight, or suggestion by clicking “Comment” below.