The last two years have brought much uncertainty and risk to international travel.
With the multitude of lockdowns and restrictions, countless short-term missions trips have been postponed and canceled.
But this unforeseen break in trips has some benefits. It’s given everyone an opportunity to be better prepared for future trips.
So, how can you use this time well?
1.Focus on the Why
Now is the time to focus on building a passion for missions—in your own heart and in the hearts of those you lead.
Don’t let global shutdowns be the reason that the topic of missions isn’t constantly in front of your people. Instead, lay a foundation.
- Talk about missions as you teach and disciple others.
- Have experienced missionaries and past short-term trip participants speak at your church or to your future trip team.
- Share missionary stories in places they’ll be publicly visible in your church.
Emphasizing missions is important in building a passion among people, but nothing surpasses providing actual missions opportunities.
If you are unable to go on a missions trip to another country, seek opportunities nationally and create opportunities locally.
The simple act of partnering with a local ministry can sometimes be the lowest barrier to experiencing how God can use you in greater ways.
I have led several people—that wouldn’t initially invest the time and money to serve internationally—that changed their minds after they participated in local ministry and experienced truly serving others for Christ.
2.Prepare Spiritually, Culturally, and Mentally
Preparation for being servants on the field cannot start too early and its importance cannot be overstated. Far too many people go to the field without proper preparation, which lessens the impact on their lives and creates the possibility of negative impact on the ministry they are serving.
Spiritual preparation should focus on becoming humble, submissive servants prepared to share the gospel and live out the love of Christ for others. The missional journeys of Paul in Acts are a great biblical study for this.
Cultural and mental preparation range from formal group training sessions (recommended) to insightful books on becoming a good short-term missions servant. A sample list of recommended missions-related books is available at the end of this article. If you want, you could also do both by choosing a book to discuss at your training sessions.
If you have the time, you could even dive into a deeper study of your target culture. Here are some ways you can learn more about the culture:
- Have someone from this culture teach the group about it at a training session.
- Learn some foundational phrases in the target culture language.
- Try to find a restaurant that serves the culture’s authentic food and take the team there.
- Find areas in your local community where people from this culture live and create ways to serve them beforehand. You can continue these relationships when you get back!
Taking these extra steps will help ignite a passion among the team for the people you will serve. Remember, these trips are temporary, but our call to serve and share the gospel is continual.
Work with your host partner or organization to plan out the ministry, logistics, and itineraries as far in advance as possible. Allow the ministry need to define the team’s skillsets and recruit specific skills as needed to have the greatest impact on the ministry. Start researching transportation options and formulate a plan for housing and resource needs to know the various options before you book anything for your trip.
By planning well, you and your team will be in a better position to provide a long-term impact on the ministry and the team members.
If you don’t have a solid partnership already formed or are unsure of missions opportunities, reach out to Launch Point and allow us to help find the right opportunities for you and your team.
Launch Point is the short-term missions ministry of ABWE, leveraging relationships with missionaries and ministry partners in over 84 countries. Visit Launch Point at www.launchpointmissions.org or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Make the most of your current “down time” from short-term missions to prepare your people to return to the field. Prioritize building a passion for missions to stimulate new interest for future trips. Prepare the people to be more effective on the field when you go on future trips. Finally, begin planning the details of different opportunities to ensure they come together as smoothly as possible. Taking these extra steps can cultivate a missions mindset and impact the ministry reach of your church for years to come.
Recommended Books to Help Prepare Short-term Missions Participants
- Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-term Missions with Cultural Intelligence by David Livermore
- Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World by David Livermore
- Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World by Duane Elmer
- Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer
- Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot And Cold-Climate Cultures by Sarah Lanier
- Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper
- When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
Check out LaunchPoint’s short-term missions trips scheduled in 2022 and either join or help lead a group to reach the nations and share God’s word.