Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Upon Reflection... 10 Questions to Consider After Your Short-Term Mission

I have finally returned from Mexico. Outside of a few days between travel stops, I have been there since the middle of June.

Now as I return, I get to sit down and begin the process of answering or deleting something like 450 e-mail messages, and responding to a rash of phone messages that have been piling up since my departure.

I also have to reflect on my time in Mexico, and think about what God has been trying to say to me through my sometimes thick skull. For those of us in professional ministry, we call this debriefing.

Many missiologists will tell you that the debriefing process, or that time of reflection after your short-term mission, is more important than your actual mission. While not discounting any of the work one may have done serving in another country, or context, real life change comes as people unpack their baggage after returning home and reflect.

So with that in mind, let me offer a few questions to use if you have recently served on a short-term mission trip.

1. What did I learn about myself on my short-term mission [STM]?

2. What did I learn about God on my STM?

3. What did I learn about the people, the church, and the Christian community in the country where I served?

4. What did I learn about how culture impacts the ways people where I served live and understand the Gospel?

5. What did I learn about justice, economics, poverty, and politics during my STM?

6. As a follower of Christ, what did I learn on my STM that can help me be a more fully devoted disciple of Him?

7. How might my faith be different if I had grown up where I was serving as opposed to my home community?

8. What did I learn or experience that will change the way I live and represent Jesus in my home community and church?

9. What have I learned about my own Christian calling as a result of my STM?

10. How can I continue to support the ongoing missionary work in the country where I served?

There you have it. 10 questions for you to consider as you return to your home culture. Know that for many, the lessons learned from serving cross culturally on short-term mission may take you years to fully grasp. But that’s okay. It’s a journey.

[Special thanks to Tim Dearborn and David Livermore, two great missiologists who are really responsible for these questions.]


Anonymous said...

Well I didn't go on a stm this year but I've been on 15 different trips so here are a couple thoughts....

1. I've learned that I'm addicted to comfort and that I don't need even a fraction of what I thought I did. I learned that God is doing great things in other countries and I I've learned that Americans don't have a corner on "how things should be done".

2. I've learned that God is so gracious to allow us to participate in what He is doing in the world.

3. I learned that the people in the church that I served with were incredibly gracious and hospitable (more so than I am) and working harder for the gospel than the vast majority of us in America.

That's a good start for now, I might come back to these later. I hope others go through this too.

Dave Miller said...

Good reflection Michael...

I too sense an urgency for the Gospel in Mexico that I rarely see here.