Missions Strategy: Part 4 – Going There
Missions Partnerships are one of the best vehicles a church can use to engage fully in missions. A healthy partnership will contain five elements, and the fourth element is Going There. After giving (Doing Our Share), this is typically the most common thing that people think of when they think of partnership. Due to the fact that it can have such an impact on trip participants and partners alike, it is exceedingly important to do it well. Planning healthy and fruitful short-term mission (STM) trips is not difficult, yet it requires some intentional forethought. The following items are helpful things to think through as you contemplate how to craft this element of the partnership.
- Posture. Above all else, we must engage in STM trips with a mindset that is firmly fixed on how we come alongside our partner’s ministry and not one that is fixed on what we can do or want to do. STM trips are exciting and this can result in the church missing the point that it isn’t about them. The long-term worker has a strategy that has been arrived at via much prayer and thought, and our trip must align with that. IWs can similarly err when they fear losing partnership if they do not give the STM team the experience that they are expecting. The corrective to this is to humbly ask the IW how they see the STM trip fitting into their strategy. This not only includes the type of work, but also the size, timing, and composition of the STM team. Be sure to remind the IW that no matter what this looks like, or how unglamorous it may seem, you will not take your partnership and run to a more ‘exciting missionary adventure’. Then, drive this posture home with your mission’s leadership.
- Find your sweet spot. Your church is probably not well equipped to work alongside every single part of your partner’s ministry. That’s okay. You don’t have to meet all of their needs. Find the intersection of their need and your gifting and run fast in that lane.
- Consider appointing a team. STMs are often promoted as a ‘come one, come all’ affair. While we want to encourage deep engagement, you may want to consider the benefits of appointing the final team. The benefits include:
- It (rightly) adds significance to being a member of the STM trip. Participants are sent as ambassadors of the church for the mission and not just as excited volunteers.
- It legally allows greater flexibility in donations to the mission fund that funds the trip. Instead of being directly tied to a member’s name (which can create some legal hang-ups), it supports the team as a whole.
- It allows proper screening of the STM team. Although the gravity differs by the situation, all STM trips are for the sole purpose of spiritual ministry. As such, the spiritual condition and maturity of the trip participants matter.
- Plan to prepare for, carry out, and debrief the trip well. Pre-trip planning includes cultural awareness conversations, prayer, and logistical planning. Mid-trip planning should be thought through to maximize the Spirit’s work in and through us, and to minimize conflict and the work of the enemy. Post-trip planning is aimed at building on the Lord’s work, both in participants and with the partner. This document may spark some ideas to this end.
- Note: Make sure that any spiritual formation efforts that are part of the trip sync well with the church’s overall discipleship strategy.
Much more could be said on this topic, so if you want to talk further about any of this, please feel free to call me anytime. I’m praying that God will help us all to engage in this element of partnership in the fullest and most fruitful ways possible.
Together with you,
firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 647-2764