By Scott Logsdon
When it comes to an international missions trip, there are all kinds of objectives for which you could plan. To start, work under the direction of your church and in partnership with the gospel ministers who serve in the area where your team will be going. Ultimately, the best short-term trips accomplish three objectives.
1. Short-term trips grow the heart of the church for the plight of the lost and for the spread of God’s greatness in the world.
This is what you want to fan into flame as you create a culture of mission in your church. You want God’s people to be gripped with the needs of others so that they will be moved to pray for your team while you are there and continue to pray when you return. The more that God’s people are considering the needs of the lost, the more they will be moved by the Holy Spirit to sacrifice much so that God’s fame will spread in the world.
Lead the team members to give a report to the church both before and after they return. Highlight your activities. Pray specifically for the names of people who may have heard the gospel during the trip. Also pray for all the gospel ministers and churches you supported on the trip.
2. Short-term trips support gospel ministers, whether individuals or churches.
There are many ways that your team can support gospel ministers on short-term trips. Your team could watch the children of gospel ministers so that they can attend a strategy meeting or retreat. You could walk through their local neighborhoods and pray for the gospel to advance through their efforts. Whatever your team does, do something that makes the gospel ministers in that area feel that your church values them as a trusted, supporting partner in the ongoing spread of the gospel in that area of the world.
3. Good short-term trips engage those who need to hear the gospel.
As you plan for your short-term trip, find ways that you can actively engage the lost with the gospel. If you are going to serve in a place where the local people do not speak English, follow the lead of your hosts about sharing the gospel through their translation. Make sure every member of the team is prepared to share the gospel, that they both know and can share it with those who live in that particular ministry context.
Spend time studying the culture, beliefs, and values of the residents in that area and lead your team to practice tailoring their gospel conversations to the specific needs and questions of the residents they might encounter. If language is going to be a significant barrier, ask your hosts whether there is a way you and your team could appropriately hand out Bibles, even as gifts to individuals they meet. But follow the lead of your hosts to ensure both their and your team’s safety.
As best you can, plan to accomplish these three objectives on your short-term missions trip. Sometimes, you may only be able to accomplish one or two objectives, and that’s okay. It will still be a good trip. Follow the lead of your church leadership and local hosts to grow the heart of the congregation for the lost and for the spread of God’s greatness in the world, to support gospel ministers, and to engage those who haven’t yet heard the gospel.
Scott Logsdon, PhD, and his family served among Muslims and led twenty-six church-planting teams in five countries. He currently lives in Richmond, Virginia, where he serves as the associate vice president of training for the International Mission Board.