Statistics say millions are going on short-term mission (STM) trips, and I believe it. And this time of year many are returning from a trip they went on through their home church.
But, if you went through an organization, and you were the only person from your church, you’re probably feeling pretty excited about getting your church involved. Maybe leadership is even looking for you to start something. If they aren’t, when they see your passion and excitement, they will be.
Let me give you a warning: you are up against a difficult task. It’s not impossible, and nothing to shy away from, but you need to prepare yourself.
Hopefully this article will help prepare you to fight the three myths that may creep into your life.
Myth #1 – If I can just get them to go, they will be changed just like me
That might happen, but it might not. There is more to the process than just going. But don’t be surprised if simply sending teams doesn’t create the change for which you are hoping. There are people in every church who will go on a STM trip simply because they are adventurous, and your stories were mysterious and exciting. They will come back excited like you, but just as the seed that is sown on the rock grows quickly and then withers, they will also be without root and fade quickly. STM trips result in life-long change when participants go for the right reasons, have good training, and have proper follow-through. But don’t be surprised if simply sending teams doesn’t create the change for which you are hoping.
Myth #2 – Sending STM teams means we are a mission-minded Church
You probably have met, or even went on your trip with people from really impressive churches. They send out teams every year and seem to have an awesome program. In fact, you may even be kind of jealous. You want your church to be like that. The problem is, you don’t see the whole picture and so you think that sending teams makes a church missions-minded. Bad things happen when our goal becomes simply to send STM teams. These teams, in a sense, become our idol. There is so much more to being involved in missions besides sending people. Life change is represented by more than just people being willing to go on a trip again next year. Read this earlier post, or this one, or this one for information about how to get a complete mission program started. The posts aren’t long and will really help you.
Myth #3 – I can inspire my church to action by myself
I hate to break it to you, but you are just one person. It doesn’t mean God can’t use “just one person,” but I can tell you from personal experience that you will need a team of people to help you. Otherwise, you will get tired, busy, and overwhelmed. So, who should be in this group? There are four basic layers. First, get the average attendee involved. The only qualification should be a willingness to serve. Second, get ministry leaders on board. You will find people like Bible study leaders, Sunday school teachers, and home group leaders have a special platform to reach people that you do not. Third, get your pastors (especially the senior pastor) on board. Your pastor can give you unique support by promoting things from the pulpit. If your pastor is passionate, it is likely that others will follow his lead. Finally, but most importantly, make sure God is involved. Do this by basing everything in prayer. Pray about every decision and endeavor you take on. Ask God about His desire and direction for your church instead of just copying what other churches are doing.
Making other people change is hard—down right impossible—just ask any pastor. But God does ask us to invite people into change. Your desire to inspire your church to action is a good one. Go at it with everything you have, but do it the right way.
Questions for the author? You can contact Tory at 520-404-0841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.