Friday, July 13, 2012

Mission Trip Triage Made Simple In 3 Easily Levels

Last week we talked about the idea of triage when it comes to our mission team participants. But what is triage? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines triage as, “the sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients, and especially battle and disaster victims, according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.” Now, we don’t expect to treat injured people, but we should be strategic. Emergency room doctors don’t spend more time with someone who cut their finger than someone who cut their arm off, and they certainly don’t treat them the same way. So why are we trying to treat everyone with a one-size-fits-all follow through strategy?

The Next Mile curriculum divides team members up into three categories. Follow-through should be customized but we have to start somewhere. Here are the three categories:

Level One —Those not likely to do another trip (est. 60%)
Level Two —Those likely to go on another trip (est. 30%)
Level Three —Those who may go onto mid- or long-term ministry (est. 10%)

Next week you will see an article about follow-through meetings. One whole meeting will be dedicated to reflection. By the end of this meeting, each participant should know where to put themselves. These can change, of course, but it provides a starting point for follow-through.

So now that we have categories identified, what are appropriate actions steps for each category?

Level one: Become a mentor to a short-term missionary next time, join the missions committee, pray for missionaries, become a home-country advocate for a missionary, give to missions, get involved in a ministry at the church.

Level two: All of the above, get involved with the particular people group in your area, language classes, be trained to lead the team next time, other classes that may prepare for ministry such as evangelism, Bible, or other practical skills.

Level three: All of the above, connect with missions pastor or missions committee about calling, investigate mission organizations that can help, educational considerations, begin dealing with logistics – pay off debt, downsize material possessions, etc.

This, of course, is not an all-inclusive list. I just want to get you thinking. What else can you come up with? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post with other ways that you have encouraged short-term missionaries in their journey to become more like Christ.

Taking the approach of triage will help you determine what life-change really looks like for each individual. It will also help you know how much time to invest in each individual. Hopefully this will make you more strategic and more confident in interactions with returning team members.

Questions for the author? You can contact Tory at 520-404-0841 or

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