Jill and Derick Dillard: Are they genuine missionaries?

Derick and Jill Dillard with their son Israel David are grateful for the prayers they have received supporting their new ministry in Central America.Instagram/Derick Dillard

Jill and Derick aren't real missionaries after all! I can't believe it!

Slow down. Who are these people?

Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard!

Still not really following.

Have you been living on the moon? Jill Duggar is one of Jim Bob and Michelle's 19 children and she's married to Derick. They've gone to do missionary work in El Salvador and now people are saying they aren't qualified missionaries.

'Qualified miss-' – sorry, did you say 19 children?

Now you're having a laugh. The Duggar family starred in TLC's reality TV show 19 Kids and Counting for seven years and they are huge. And yes, Michelle did have 19 children. They are sincere Christians who brought up their children quite strictly, with not much TV and 'chaperoned courtship' rules.

Ah, wait, the name rings a bell: Josh?

Yes, he's one of them, but let's pass over him in silence.

Alright, I don't suppose we can: it turned out he had sexually abused minors when he was a teenager and turned to the Ashley Madison adultery website when he was older.

All clear. Now, what's this story?

According to The Inquisitr website, Jill and Derick headed off to El Salvador to be missionaries, but they aren't actually qualified to do the job.

I'm being a bit dense here, but what qualifications do you need, other than a zeal for sharing the Good News?

The Inquisitr points out that they go to a Southern Baptist Church and that neither of them have taken the required courses to be an International Missions Board funded missionary.

So they aren't SBC missionaries. Did they ever say they were?


And does being commissioned by their church imply they get financial support from them too?


So, er, what's the problem?

Thinking about it, perhaps there isn't one. The Inquisitr, followed by various other websites, appears to have assumed that since they aren't supported by the SBC they mustn't be genuine missionaries. In fact many mission workers operate entirely outside SBC structures and it's all perfectly normal. The Inquistr says: "Many presumed that they were supported in their work by their local Baptist church or the IMB. Now it is revealed that those presumptions are false." The answer to that isn't, "They were fooling us", but "You should do your research".

So what's this all about?

It's open season on the Duggars at the moment; they didn't do themselves any favours by their handling of the original Josh Duggar scandal and his involvement with Ashley Madison was the icing on the cake. Their parenting style has always had its critics and their children are in the blast radius too.

Are the Duggar-Dillards real missionaries, then?

Well, they've had a couple of holidays back home since they started, but that doesn't make them bad people. I think I should give them the benefit of the doubt.

Thanks, you've been very helpful.

Follow @RevMarkWoods on Twitter.