As many as four million people take mission trips each year! Believe it or not, there is more money and manpower being invested on short-term missions than on long-term.
People from 18 to 80 are going on short-term trips anywhere from two weeks to two years. It’s easy to see why we need to maximize our efforts.
Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your short-term mission trip.
1. Get to know the people. You’ll experience the culture through the people. You might even get culture shock. That is really people shock. Don’t worry, you’ll get over it. :-) But unless you “hang with the natives” so to speak, you’ll be missing out on on some of the most amazing things that God has in store for you. If you don’t spend time with, and love the people of your new culture, you might as well pack your bags and head home.
2. Get to know the missionaries. You want to be exposed to more than dengue, right? So why not be exposed to what being a missionary is really like. You’ll probably shake off some of your preconceived ideas, and get some new ones too. Warning, you might want to be exposed to the work the missionary does, but you’ll soon realize that you are going to be exposed to their lives instead.
TIP: Ask questions! Ask who, what, when, when, where, why, and how? Probably one of my biggest faults is assuming that people know more than they do. But there is nothing that gives me more pleasure as a missionary than trying to answer a question.
3. Get involved in any way you can. If you can speak the language well enough, have a your testimony prepared. If you can’t communicate well at first, look for ways to serve. Get someone a glass of water. Find ways to help the missionary. Set up chairs, etc. Teach some English. Ask God what He wants you to do. There is always some way that you can show Christ’s love through word and/or deed.
4. In a humble way, share insights you have with believers in your new culture. But don’t forget to listen, and acknowledge the insights they have to share with you! We don’t have a corner on the “Christian” market. You might find yourself surprised by what God teaches you through those in your host country. Be humble and enjoy the process.
5. Take what you’ve learned and share it back home. You’ve been exposed to something that many people have never had the opportunity to see. Share what God has done in your life. Share what God did while you were on your trip. Let you enthusiasm shine through. Start a missions pray group. Plan another trip and take others with you!
Getting the most out of your short-term mission trip is all about people. Maximizing your stay for God’s glory is all about experiencing the culture through the people, getting to know the missionaries you work with, serving others in creative ways, sharing ideas and encouraging believers, and then coming home and challenging others to be part of the Great Commission. Man, it doesn’t get any better than that!
Discussion Question: What other ways can you suggest to make the most of short-term mission trips?