Monday, October 23, 2006

Lessons From A Short-Term Mission Trip

  1. Reality is shaped by vocabulary and vocabulary shapes reality. [In Ukraine, they don’t have words for ‘vision’ or ‘strategy.’ After years of communist dictatorship, they didn’t need one. In Italy, they don’t have a word for ‘accountability.’]
  2. Relationships are more important than meetings.
  3. In an environment where you can’t plan very well, who you are will be more important than how prepared you are. Your ministry comes from your life.
  4. The people you go with and the people you come home to are the ones who need to benefit from the experience the most.
  5. Human beings are the same everywhere.
  6. God is the same everywhere.
  7. Culture sets limits on our behavior. We will assume that what is cultural is godly, but that is not necessarily so.
  8. Every culture has its own besetting sins.
  9. A long-term missionary has to make it work. A short term missionary will go home soon. This leads to different approaches to the same problem.
  10. It is easy to fall in love with an experience. This is different from the call to be a missionary.
  11. Language matters. Use well the one you know.
  12. Their lives go on after you leave. Make them easier.
  13. Hosting short-term teams is hard work for missionaries.
  14. Come home and follow the same rules: Do whatever you are asked. Leave everywhere cleaner than you found it. No complaining.
  15. Flexibility.
If you have been on a short-term trip and have lessons you'd like to add, I'd be honored to read them in the comments. Thanks.


Judy Cochran said...

I would add this to the list:
--The family of God extends all over the world. It's precious to experience the love that transcends culture.
--Those who support short-term missionaries are truly a part of the team.

Anonymous said...

Very valuable and true list, pastor Scott. I strongly identify with 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 13, and 15. And I appreciated Judy's additions. I would add a few I've learned:

- Hosting us is as culturally shocking for them as it is for us (can you believe we don't shower 3 times a day, and we don't usually eat rice and satay for breakfast?)
Therefore, appreciate their sacrifice.
-Do not get caught up in feelings of being great because you are a novelty to them, or in being so insignificant in a world so big. Remember who God is, and how humbled Himself to love us.
-Perhaps the most important thing you can do is encourage the full-time workers.
-Americans (almost 100%) are very rich. Use your wealth to expand God's kingdom.
-Everyone should take an opportunity to go - it will change your view of God, the Church, and the world.

I'm sure there are many more, but I'll stop for now.

Louise B said...

I totally agree with each one. Another one that was always on my mind when on a short term trip was to strive to be a blessing and not a burden. Also, we were there to we worked hard to get out money's worth!
When I saw a young girl sneak out and purchase a liter of soda to serve us as we sat out front of her humble home with her mother, I felt very humbled and blessed at the same time.
Yes, God does work in us when we go. We do not come back the same person.

Louise Bennett

Louise B said...

I appreciate the picture of Allan. Did you know that his birthday is coming up next week? And I think his anniversary is this weekend.
Louise B.

Julie and John Wright said...

- You are not there to build a building, you are there to build a Kingdom.