Short-term Missions Questions

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Below are questions you might want to ask before joining a short-term missions team. These questions can help you evaluate whether a team is a good fit for you and vice versa.

Asking detailed practical questions about the team and trip will help you figure out if your goals and the goals of the team are in significant alignment. Here are some good questions to get you started:

  • Who is leading the team?
  • Who else is going on the trip?
  • When do you leave?
  • When will you come back?
  • Where will you travel?
  • What kind of transportation?
  • What kind of accommodations?
  • What will all of it cost?
  • What will you be doing?
  • Who will benefit from your taking this trip?

Beyond these practical questions you should also ask deeper questions aimed at defining your goals and motivations for participation in the trip. Being clear about your own motivations and expectations is an essential part of evaluating a short-term missions opportunity. It is also important to realize that almost all short-term missions experiences involve some mix of personal goals and ministry goals.

  • Personal goals are the benefits you expect to get from this missions experience.
  • Ministry goals are the blessings you hope to give as part of this trip.

These questions can help you discern your own heart:

  1. Will this trip encourage you to grow your gratitude? A trip that takes you outside your physical comfort zone where you will be forced to encounter new experiences puts you in a great position to grow in gratitude for the blessings that are a part of your daily life. Is this a goal you and the team readily embrace or will your need for comfort be an unrealistic priority? Knowing what you are willing to seek and endure can help you know what kind of trip you are ready to take on. Some people will say this is a wrong way to look at things. But, Jesus tells us to count the cost. What are you willing to endure? What level of risk and discomfort are you willing to take on?
  2. DSC03481Will this trip challenge your cultural assumptions and grow your cultural awareness? A trip that takes you outside your cultural comfort zone where you will be forced to experience how others relate to one another is a great place to grow your cultural awareness. You may not realize how accustomed you are to moving freely as a young woman until you are in a cultural situation where that is forbidden. By contrast, someone else may not realize how strange it is to be distrusted and poorly treated because of their height or the color of their skin. These new experiences that take place when we are culturally displaced can open our eyes in ways that will never happen in our home context. In what ways are you willing and ready for your eyes to be opened?
  3. Will this trip push you toward greater faith and help you learn to stand against fear? A trip that takes you outside your emotional comfort zone where tendencies for anxiety and fear can come to the surface provides a great opportunity for you to grow in your ability to walk in faith and stand against fear. For some of us, the process of raising support and asking for prayer may be anxiety provoking. For others, traveling into locations where racial, political, economic, language or security differences predominate may present greater challenges. Are you ready to confront anxiety and stand in faith against your fear?
  4. Will taking this trip constitute obedience or rebellion? There are many opportunities to go on short-term mission. Not all of them are trips you should take. You may be more ready to go, or a trip may be more suitable for you to join, if you have a sense that not going would involve rebellion against God. Not many people can say they have heard from God in a direct or audible way. If you are convinced you are following God, : 1) you will be more willing to get out of your comfort zones and 2) you will more willingly to stay there long enough to grow from the experience. Is going on this trip something you sense you must do in order to be obedient to God?
  5. DSC01766 copyWill this trip expose you to the global church? A trip that takes you into the presence of Christians from other races, cultural groups, socioeconomic group and walks of life can expand your understanding of how Christ saves people from ever tribe and nation. Meeting and learning from Christians who are very different can help you to see more of Christ. How have your experiences left you impoverished in different ways than the poverty they experience? Are you excited to see Jesus meet the needs of people who are very different than you? Are you willing to see them as blessed, gifted and rich in ways you never imagined?
  6. Do you have specific skills you can bring to this particular mission setting? Your skills may help meet the needs of those being ministered to by the long-term team. Or your skills may help the long-term team by improving their lives or making their ministry run in better ways. Many different types of skills are applicable to the missions setting. Everything from accounting to zip-lining can be used in the missions context to strengthen a long-term team and grow the gospel work of the local church. What skills do you have? Are you willing to use them in challenging new ways?
  7. Will this trip raise awareness of specific needs? There are two categories of needs a trip can shine light on: 1) mission team needs and 2) mission target needs. Mission team needs are the needs of the long-term team itself, the needs of those you will serve alongside. Mission target needs are the needs of the population the long-term mission team serves. A short-term mission trip can bring awareness of both of these types of need. This greater awareness may encourage others to join the effort and strengthen the connections with these ministry partners. Are you willing to share the needs of missionaries and the people they serve when you are raising funds and asking for prayer?
  8. DSC04130Will this trip significantly support a long-term missionary team? As a short-term mission participant, you can be part of ongoing gospel work. You can be an encouragement to the long-term team. You can assist in reaching their long-term goals. You can grant them much needed rest by bringing fresh energy and excitement. Will the trip you are considering multiply your service by adding it to an existing team with a strong strategic plan?
  9. Will this trip raise funds or supply resources for long-term work? Resources and funds you bring can further the work of the long-term team in ways they could not manage on their own. Many short-term teams raise only enough funds to for their own travel and accommodations. These teams can leave the long-term team depleted and exhausted when they depart. Your team might consider having each participant raise extra funds that will stay behind to grow the work when you head home. Are you willing to raise funds beyond your own needs in order to fuel greater work?
  10. Will this trip build ministry partnerships? This trip can build relationships with the hope of establishing long-term partnerships. Your trip can serve a purpose beyond the one or two weeks of the trip itself. It can establish or grow ties that will continue to grow more fruitful with time. Do you see this trip as something that is complete when you return to your home? Or do you see it as just the beginning of an ongoing connection where you strive, pray and seek the good of the long-term team and those the team ministers among?

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