REIMAGINING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS / 1

REIMAGINING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS / 1

My life has been greatly impacted because of Short-Term Missions. I’ve had great experiences, horrible ones, and everything in between but God used those experiences to eventually call me into full-time missionary service. Many missionaries have a similar story. The problem is, Short-Term Missions is not all rainbows and unicorns. 

 

It is no secret that Short-Term Missions has a complicated reputation. Some see it as the be-all, end-all of the church’s mission program and others think of it as a waste of money at best. The reality is, no matter what you think of Short-Term Missions (STM), it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon...

The Next Evangelicalism

The Next Evangelicalism

One of the things I love about my job is the opportunity to read new books. I help mobilize numerous churches on short-term mission, and I get to read books on missiology, the Church, the changing landscape of missions, how we can do things better, and how we can keep (or shift to) the right posture.

 

Recently, I was impacted greatly by The Next Evangelicalism by Soong-Chan Rah. Soong-Chan writes clearly and movingly about the shift in evangelicalism in the West and the future of the Church. The title comes from what he describes as the next wave of evangelicalism in the West. Historically and even to this present day, the dominant voices and influences in the Western church have been white (male) voices. Soong-Chan notes a trend in that that Anglo churches are on the decline in the U.S., while ethnic and immigrant churches are flourishing and growing...

DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY

DON'T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY

I’ve been guilty of it so many times, thinking I’m in charge of my event. Thinking if I’m not there then there is no possible way the show can go on. I’ve lived with fear gripping my heart that I haven’t done enough or I haven’t done well enough or I just haven’t done “it” (whatever that elusive “it” is). I’ve had those moments staring into the eyes of my audience knowing I’m bombing and not knowing how to fix it. I’ve walked away from days fully aware we had a loss. I’ve had my stomach turn and my heart be heavy knowing it just didn’t work.

Can anyone out there relate?

The older I get (geez, I sound ancient) the more I realize I’m very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I’d like to think I matter but I’m realizing more and more that while I’m important and God desires to use me he certainly doesn’t need me. In fact, let’s be honest, there are times I’m quite sure God has simply worked around me to accomplish his purposes. He hasn’t shoved me out of the way but neither has he needed me.

4 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF DURING TRANSITION (PART II)

4 THINGS TO BE AWARE OF DURING TRANSITION (PART II)

In Part I we discussed transition from the familiar into a new place. Now let’s talk about a less discussed aspect of transition: coming back “home” after living in and experiencing another culture. This transition is often overlooked and not taken seriously, but I can tell you from experience both personally and in my many conversations, it is one of the hardest.

You’ve spent months or perhaps years in a different culture, and you have finally figured out your new normal in this new place. You can talk to the people around you, navigate the city, and have made wonderful friends. Now you will get back on a plane and go “home. People are anticipating your return. You are excited to see family, eat a hamburger, have unlimited root beer.

What you are not prepared for, is what it looks like when you step off the plane...

PARTNERING WITH THE LOCAL CHURCH

PARTNERING WITH THE LOCAL CHURCH

Often times, the work our short-term teams participate in is intangible. They are building towards something that another planted, they are watering, and most likely, someone else will get to harvest. But these relational touchpoints have significant impact for the kingdom, as our teams submit both to the Holy Spirit, and to the local leadership and church who can shepherd their efforts throughout their time on the ground. 

For those who have gone on short-term trips and have not gotten to share in the joy of the harvest, here are a few stories from our site leadership in the Dominican Republic, and how short-term teams have impacted and facilitated the gospel going forward through the local church. 

THE HARVEST

THE HARVEST

“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”

It was at that moment as the missionary speakers from Turkey wrapped up their sharing time that I knew I was being called to be one of God’s harvesters. I looked over at my mom with tears running down my face and told her, “God wants me to be a missionary.” I had heard this verse so many times. I had grown up in a pastor’s family of a small Christian & Missionary Alliance church in suburban Pennsylvania, where I learned all the Sunday School answers. Our church had always been intentional when it came to missions, and my favorite times in the church calendar were when missionaries came to speak. As a kid, I loved beating the African drums, hesitantly touching enormous snake skins, examining currency from around the world, and hearing the fantastic stories of what God was doing all around the world. I had heard this harvest verse so many times, but for some reason this time it sounded different. It felt personal. It was as if God was directly speaking this verse to me.

REIMAGINING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS: THE BIG PICTURE

REIMAGINING SHORT-TERM MISSIONS: THE BIG PICTURE

Short-term missions (STM) is a growing entity in the world of global Christian missions. But for all of it’s participants, and dollars raised and spent, STM is still only part of a total global effort. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates a total of 400,000 long-term foreign missionaries in the world today that have been sent out from countries all around the globe. Some estimates suggest that there could be as many as four million people that participate in short-term missions annually from the United States alone.

On a smaller scale within the Christian & Missionary Alliance, 2,000 U.S. Alliance churches support and send out just over 700 full-time long-term missionaries. The same 2,000 U.S. churches report having over 14,000 STM participants annually.

The reality is, it will likely be through STM that most of us participate in global missions...

From Short-Term Trips to Hearing God's Call

From Short-Term Trips to Hearing God's Call

In 2008, I took my first short-term trip to Burkina Faso. I fell in love with the people (the Burkinabé) who are some of the most joyful, giving and beautiful people you will ever meet. I knew before I returned home that I would be back next year. In 2009, I returned for my second trip, and even though I didn’t feel called to move to Burkina at this time, I knew I wanted to return yet again the next year...

THE OVERLOOKED: THE DEAF COMMUNITY

THE OVERLOOKED: THE DEAF COMMUNITY

Do you remember those Verizon commercials with the man in dark framed glasses holding a phone up to his ear? He’d be standing in different locations, asking that same annoying question, “Can you hear me now?” Over and over again. I get it, Verizon. You have lots of really big cell towers that allow for fewer dropped calls. But what if I can’t hear you and what if it has nothing to do with my cell phone carrier?

 

When I was in high school, I was required to take two years of a foreign language. French, Spanish, and American Sign Language were offered. French seemed too hard, I thought I would never need or use Spanish, so that left American Sign Language. Much to my surprise, I fell in love with the language, the culture and the people! Plus, as a highschooler, it was handy to be able to silently communicate with friends while in class. I’m sure my teachers really loved that. I grew such a passion for the Deaf community, their language and culture, that after college I became an Educational Sign Language Interpreter. But to be honest, before taking a sign language class I had never really noticed any Deaf people. And that is exactly my point...

MORE THAN PRAY, GIVE, GO

MORE THAN PRAY, GIVE, GO

Growing up, I attended a week of church camp every year. Every year there was an iteration of the evening service focusing on responding to God’s calling to full time ministry. There would be an exciting missions message from an international worker, with pictures of lost people flashing up on the screen behind them. Scores of students would stream to the front to meet with God and to respond to this calling. It was during a service much like one of these that I responded to God’s calling on my life to serve internationally. I felt God touch my heart and ask me if I was willing to leave the comfortable, going out into the unknown for His glory. I answered yes and was so excited to be used by God! I was proud that I was part of the special group of people who God wanted to use in the Great Commission! After the service and throughout the years to come, I was given many resources to help me successfully pursue this calling.

I went to college with this international calling at the forefront of my mind. I specifically filled my schedule with extra classes and activities that would make my “ministry resume” look good...