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...

THE OPTIMIST CLUB

THE OPTIMIST CLUB

I do it for “the one”.

Even if it’s just a moment.

A little can mean a lot.

I will fully admit I am chronically optimistic. The glass is almost always half full in my life. More often than not I am able to find something to be glad about. I’ll also admit, I think I’m quite a bit more pleasant to be around then those who are chronically pessimistic, although I’m sure some would disagree. The reality is that in this world we live in I believe we need a few more people to be chronically optimistic with me. Life is hard, walking with Jesus is hard, and the world is awfully dark. And yet, but still, we serve a good God.

SENT

SENT

I have been stunned as I read through the book of John to notice how often Jesus tells his listeners that He was sent by the Father. It seems that He concludes almost every statement with the qualifier “because The Father has sent me,” and that He consistently deflects attention from Himself and towards “the One who sent me.”

  
Curious, I did a little study on the word “sent” in the book of John and found 41 times that it is used by Jesus in this way.

For example:
4:34 My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
5:30 I seek not to please myself, but him who sent me

APPROACHING MISSIONS

APPROACHING MISSIONS

When I first moved to Paris, I wasn’t necessarily sure as to what to expect as far as cross-cultural ministry. I’d been overseas before, having lived in multiple European cities, and having traveled to Africa, but I hadn’t yet been a part of an established ministry center. 

After being here seven months on the ground, I can tell you that my approach and viewpoint of cross-cultural ministry has completely shifted. God has continued to show me time and time again how He wants to shape the culture over here, and what I can be doing to come alongside Him in His plan for here. 

Before embarking on your internship, my advice would be to prepare yourself in every way possible before getting on location. Here are a couple ideas of what you might want to do to prepare yourself for your internship.

FROM BROKENNESS TO LIFE

FROM BROKENNESS TO LIFE

As I sit on a plane, flying back from Miami to Georgia, I’m struck by how different this spring break was compared to last. That’s an understatement, though, because it’s not just the spring break that is different.

It’s me.

If you were to tell me a year ago that I would be spending my Spring Break sophomore year of college in charge of and leading a missions trip to Miami, I would have laughed in your face. Not maliciously - I just would never have imagined possessing the confidence, skills, or relationships that I have now.

This time last year I was coming to terms with just how broken I am as a person. I was overwhelmed. Past hurts, anxiety, consistent sadness, and fear were all I could see in myself. I knew I could give the brokenness to God, but I didn’t really know what that looked like.

THE GREAT SURPRISER

THE GREAT SURPRISER

Often I think of faith as charging in where God directs, even though everything inside wants to pull back. Faith as blind, almost insane obedience. I think of Jesus riding into Jerusalem not knowing how God’s plan was going to play out, only that it would.

But it’s sometimes hard to grasp faith like this, sitting where we are looking back at the story. We already know how the story ends, and so it’s easy to assume they somehow did too.  

As I look at the Easter narrative this year, a small passage in Luke 23 stands out to me:

“On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.”

PASSION

PASSION

My generation (those of us in our 20’s, and 30’s) has informally been dubbed the “Passion Generation.” Evidently because we’re full of fire and zeal and a longing to change the world!  I’m exceedingly expectant that because of this great passion, today’s young adults will affect major changes in issues of poverty, trafficking, creation care, disease eradication, racial reconciliation, reaching the lost and more.

But passion alone can’t accomplish long-term fruit. Movements that are just fueled by righteous indignation and fervor can quickly burn out, or their focus gets distorted, or their leaders go crazy, or they don’t actually accomplish anything except hyping people up.

I’ve seen too many of my friends, not to mention myself, be quick to jump on every train that says it’s off to make a difference. It’s just so exciting to take a stand on something that matters! And, don’t get me wrong—that can be a good thing.  Praise God that more and more people are finding creative ways to engage our society in helping a world in need. I just wonder if deep change and lasting impact comes that… easily… and if it really looks that… cool.

LENTEN DEVO

LENTEN DEVO

The Christian life is given a voice in the telling of a story. It is a story of how the Creator of all things is working to restore a broken universe, a universe broken by the very creatures God created. In particular, this story focuses on how God became human and took on the role of a servant, so that those who trusted in God could be redeemed from their condition of sinfulness.

Often in telling this story we place an emphasis (rightly so) on the way that Jesus’ death on a cross is a key event in God’s plan to redeem humanity. Sometimes, though, we neglect a very important element in the equation: the resurrection. While the death of Jesus is important to emphasize, it would all have been for nothing without the resurrection.