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Raising the Impact of Short-Term Missions

It is important both for the participant and for the sending organization to adopt an effective re-entry de-briefing process for returning short-term missionaries.

This month my daughter is on a short term mission trip with 70 other people from our local church. Like thousands of other Canadian Christians both young and old, she is involved in speaking and living out the message of the Kingdom of God.

It's amazing how these kinds of tools become more important when they impact your own kids and your own church.

As I think about the experience my daughter is having this month, I have several questions as a father and a local church leader.

What impact will the team really have on the community they are serving?

Will this experience help my daughter grow as a follower of Jesus?

Will this short term mission experience have an impact on our youth ministry in our church?

Will our church be different because of this experience?

As I contemplate these questions, my mind wanders to the Canadian Code of Best Practice for Short Term Mission that I worked on with church and agency leaders several years ago. These best practices are simply a way of raising the bar for impact of short-term missions.

It's amazing how these kinds of tools become more important when they impact your own kids and your own church.

One of the key things we learned as we developed the best practices was that re-entry support and evaluation is absolutely critical to take short-term mission journeys to the next level of impact. I also recall that this area was the weakest for most churches and agencies.

So with my daughter soon returning from her mission journey, I thought it might be helpful for me to review this section of the best practices. Perhaps it will be a help to you as well.

Here is section four of the best practices:

Re-entry support, evaluation and program development

4.1 Re-entry debriefing and support will be seen as an integral part of the short-term package.

4.2 Re-entry preparation, including field evaluation, will begin prior to return.

4.3 The mission agency and sending local church will assist the participant through re-entry, including facing unresolved personal issues, and future opportunities and direction in discipleship and service.

4.4 Evaluation of the mission agencies procedures and performance will be filled out by the participant. (The agencies' procedures will also be evaluated by local sending churches).

4.5 On the request of the host organization, an assessment of the host organization will be carried out in an appropriate way by the participant.

This is really important stuff.

4.6 The results of evaluations will be communicated to relevant managers, for the improvement of future projects and the keeping of permanent records. Confidentiality, integrity and accuracy are required.

This is really important stuff. The good news is that our church has committed to practicing these best practices. How are they doing in living them out? When they return I will be actively observing how they re-enter life in our community. Of course, I will have an opportunity and a responsibility to help my own daughter and perhaps a few others to leverage the impact of this short-term mission journey.

How about you? Do you have a team or an individual in your church that has returned from a short-term mission journey? How can you help them leverage this opportunity for their sake and the sake of the Kingdom?

Here are some additional helpful resources:

STM Network These folks have put together some great training events.

World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission Lot's of resources and links here.

WEA Resources Lot's of free books and resources you can download.

TIM Centre Works with MissionPrep to provide effective training in cross–cultural mission.

Geoff Tunnicliffe is the director of Global Initiatives, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.




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