These pivotal and challenging questions will help you think about what God is trying to teach you through short-term missions.
Short-Term Missions Workbook
By Tim Dearborn
One reason why the body of Christ invests in short-term mission is that it is an exceptional discipleship and mission-education experience—further equipping us for a lifetime of service in God’s kingdom. God is about to send you into a remarkable classroom (the world) with remarkable teachers (people and the Holy Spirit). A good short-term mission experience will lead people to reflect on several sets of pivotal and challenging questions. These eight great questions will be explored more fully in the final chapter, but it’s helpful to begin thinking about them now.
What can I learn about myself?
You will have abundant opportunities to see yourself in new ways. Seek to be open as a learner—even about yourself.
What can I learn about God?
Our faith is expanded when we can see it through the eyes of people from a different background. Seek to understand why others believe as they do.
What can I learn about the people of God, the church and community?
While on a short-term mission trip, we often discover that other Christians’ forms of community worship and church life are different from our own. Seek to understand what contributes to a vibrant Christian community.
What can I learn about how culture affects the way we live and understand the gospel?
Our perceptions are conditioned by our culture and background. That is an inescapable part of life. However, entering into another culture can give us perspective on our own culture and possibly overcome some of the limitations of our understanding. Seek to gain new insights into the gospel that emerge from a different culture.
What can I learn about justice, economics, poverty and politics?
Serving in the developing world or in America’s inner cities often leads us to encounter poverty, economic disparity, injustice and structural evil—as well as great kindness, courage, creativity and compassion. Why do injustices exist, what is God doing in response and to what form of engagement is God calling the church? Seek to explore these tough and urgent issues. Why are some poor and others rich? What does God say about this?
What can I learn about discipleship?
When we engage in short-term mission, we often have the privilege of encountering people with a radical dedication to Jesus Christ. We go seeking to grow in our faith; we also go seeking to share it. We often end up receiving far more than we expected. Seek to gain one new insight into what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Seek to have one new step of faithfulness permanently incorporated into your life.
What can I learn about a globally appropriate lifestyle?
In light of what we learn about poverty and international economics, what are some implications not just for society in general but also for our own lifestyles as Christians? Seek to discern one way you can live differently in response to the needs of others around the world.
What can I learn about my own vocation?
Finally, what is God seeking to say to you about your own life and work? What insight do you gain into your calling and God’s will for your life? For those who are students, what questions do you want to pursue more fully in your courses and degree programs in light of what you’ve learned and seen? Seek to understand ways you can steward the gifts, talents and time with which God has entrusted you in order to participate more fully in God’s purposes in the world.
Excerpted from Short-Term Missions Workbook, Revised and Expanded by Tim Dearborn. Copyright (c) 2018 by Timothy Dearborn. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. IVPress.com