Friday, September 21, 2012

What do YOU think makes a STM trip a good one?

Last week I wrote about how to evaluate your STM trip. I proposed we should determine success based on the process of our STM trip rather than the end product. I promised I would suggest what makes a good process this week, so here it is.

A STM trip done well exhibits seven main traits. Several years ago, mission leaders wiser than myself came up with the Standards of Excellence in Short-term Missions (SOE). How does your trip measure up with these standards? Don’t just go with your gut, find a way to evaluate it. The STM Trip Assessment Tool and Free Supplement is a good way to do that.

Here are some thoughts that I have had when it comes to changing the way I view a mission trip:

  1. How was the trip’s leadership? Did we have our own agenda? Did we truly partner with our hosts? Were we serving our needs, or express a desire to serve them. This is far different from evaluating the relevancy or the success of what we did. 
  2. How was the group? Were they properly trained and prepared, not just physically but spiritually, emotionally, and culturally? A sign of this would be how the group reacts to adversity. Was there complaining or adapting? If your group was looking for God at work instead of hung up on what was going wrong, you probably did a good job. 
  3.  Did you follow-through with your participants? Not everyone will become a missionary, but everyone can become more like Christ. It’s not your responsibility to make a person change, but it is your responsibility to invite them into change. If you’re not sure how to practically do that, check out The Next Mile curriculum for help with follow-through. Make sure you see the free e-zine and mentor guides. 
  4. Think percentages not numbers. This is how I determine a successful day and a successful trip: What percentage of the time was I faithfully following Jesus? This means I did what he wanted, the way he wanted me to, when he wanted me to. Did I make excuses to avoid doing what God asked me to so that I wouldn’t have to leave my comfort zone, or did I step out in fear and faith and follow Him?

I admit, this way of evaluating an STM trip is a bit subjective. So how do you know if you should send a team back? Here are some questions to guide you:

  1. What is your philosophy? For example, are you looking for a long-term partner or trying to visit all your supported missionaries? 
  2.  Were your hosts’ desires accomplished? If you were beneficial, then a door is open for you to return. If everything was accomplished, then there might not be a need to return. 
  3.  Were your godly desires fulfilled? If this just wasn’t a good match, then don’t force it. 
  4.  Is there room for growth? Can your role with the field grow over time? Can your partnership grow and become deeper?

 I hope these ideas help you determine whether or not your last trip, or even your current trip is a success.

What do you think? What would you add? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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

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