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...

PARTICIPANTS NOT SUPERHEROES

PARTICIPANTS NOT SUPERHEROES

“You should go to Germany.”

It was late fall, and my wife and I were having dinner at my mentor’s home in Lexington, Kentucky. We had been spilling our guts out to these sweet people - everything. This was an incredibly challenging semester for myself (and my wife – she might as well be a student, too). We both were experiencing tremendous amounts of fatigue (emotionally, physically, spiritually)  and simultaneously attempting to reflect on the the ways we had grown during our first 3 months of marriage.

“You should go to Germany.” You can imagine the host of questions. Why do this in our first year of marriage? How are we going to fund this? We were reluctant, hesitant, unsure – we had no clue what to think. Only God knew.

Reframing Short-Term Missions: PURPOSE

Reframing Short-Term Missions: PURPOSE

Long before embarking on a short-term trip, a church must start by asking, “Why would we want to send a team in the first place?  Your answer to that question speaks volumes about the kind of ministry your team will do and the attitude you will have.

Some common responses include, “we want our people to get out of their comfort zones, to share the gospel, to grow in Christ, to see the world, etc.” For some churches, a short term trip is just “what we do” each summer in the line-up of ministry activities.

But if a short-term trip is simply another to-do on your church checklist, may we challenge you to rethink your vision? It may be too small.

Your motivation matters. The purpose for even a one-week trip must be shaped and carried by the highest level of leadership and cannot be taken lightly. WHY you go drastically impacts HOW you go.

Reframing Short-Term Missions: HOSTS

Reframing Short-Term Missions: HOSTS

“Non merci.” “No thanks.”

That was the response we heard over and over as we attempted to hand out glow sticks to the passing crowd.  We had created a unique way to advertise an upcoming kids English camp. We had attached business cards with the camp information to two thousand glow sticks. Interns, staff and friends were enlisted to hand out glow sticks to the crowd gathered to listen to music in the streets during Paris’ Fête de la Musique. As dusk fell the glow sticks came out and our workers came back saying “Nobody wants them.” As the night continued we handed out a few here and a few there, but most of the people didn’t want them or didn’t trust that they were actually free. Finally, the glow sticks were forced into the hands of those passing by.  We hadn’t asked of our local friends if they thought this was a good idea. We had just ordered the glow sticks and business cards and bull-headedly went to work. As we left that night, business cards could be seen littering the sidewalk for blocks. Not one single person called or registered from all the work we did. But I did learn a valuable lesson that night. Always work with your host to develop ideas and advertising.

TO DO LISTS & KINGDOM WORK

TO DO LISTS & KINGDOM WORK

This is my system. I keep a yellow legal pad, and I list everything I want to accomplish that week in a narrow column down the left hand side. Some things I need to do everyday, like update my class website - I put five small boxes next to those things, one for each day. Now, at the beginning of a new day I highlight that day’s tasks and cross them out when finished with a thick-tip black Sharpie. Things that don’t get finished carry over into a new column - next week’s list. To you non-listers, I can’t adequately describe the satisfaction of a Friday afternoon with a yellow legal pad that looks like a heavily censored CIA memo.

But in all seriousness, it’s probably not difficult to diagnose the spiritual difficulties this accomplishment-based mindset brings with it...