Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Packing List, Part Three

Still on our Upstream's mini tour this week. Today we are in Lebanon Tennessee just outside of Nashville. We are doing one of our "About Europe" meetings with several area pastors, mission leaders and business people. I hope you will check us out on our blog at

Here is the last of the packing list for a short term mission project. I am sure there are other things to be packed so feel free to add to the list.

The Intangibles

7. A blessing for your host / or people you may be working with while overseas.

In some cases you may be working with a missionary team, a national church or church planter. I always have enjoyed when the volunteer team comes over and blesses us. I know this may sound self-serving since I am a missionary (smile) but you can really be an encouragement for people on the field. Idea: You may want to ask them if there is something that they would like to have from the states or just surprise them with a goodie. It does not have to be a lot. The thought really does count. The other idea is to pray for them and with them during the trip. This is a huge blessing to the workers that live on the field.

8. A smile. When we moved to the field we made a family covenant to smile at the people we met. That sounds really silly but it goes a long way when you are trying to connect with a person. Think about the times you have met people and they were not smiling. Were you impressed? I think everything changes with a good smile. Idea: smile

9. An “ I will try it” attitude. People that come over and do a good job seem to have an “I will try it ” attitude. Ministry in another country can be a challenge. Everything seems different. The food looks, smells and tastes different. Ideas: Seek out restaurants that are not part of American fast food chains but go to where the locals go. Be a “foodie”! While you are preparing for your trip take public transportation and eat at an ethnic restaurant in your city to get out of your normal patterns.

10. A few words that you can speak in the heart language of the people – I will be the first to say that I am not a language expert but I try to always say a few words in whatever country I happen to be in. Language is so important in cross-cultural ministry. You may or may not be fluent when you come on your trip but if you can try to learn some basics it will go a long way in your time overseas.

I am certain there are other things that you should pack. Feel free to add to this list. I wonder what we would put on a list of things “NOT” to pack?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Packing List, Part two

Last post I put started my list of ten things to be sure to pack when you go on a short term trip.

Here are some more important Items to take with you on your trip

4. Three - Five Bible stories that you can tell in Basic English. Don’t underestimate the power of the Word. I think if you can find few short Bible stories that mean a lot to you then you will be ready for opportunities the Lord may give you to share how God has transformed your life. Idea: Practice telling these stories to your family or your small group before you coming. They will be quite impressed with your ability to do Bible storying.

5. Your story. I think it is important to be able to tell your personal story of how God changed your life? Can you do it 2 minutes or less? Idea: Use Basic English and cut out the big religious words. You will most likely be communicating to people who speak English as a second language or using a translator. Either way time is important and people understanding you is vital. I have found it might be a good idea to write this out first.

6. Some photos. People love to look at pictures. They are great conversation builders. Try not to show off your “ American stuff” but they love seeing your family, vacation shots, etc.. Idea: Put together a small photo album or put the pictures on your ipod. Think about ways you can communicate your story as you show pictures.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Packing List

I have worked with a lot of volunteer teams in the last 8 years living overseas. Most of them do a tremendous job. As I think about these groups that do well I see several things in common for those who do well. I am going to break these up in three different post for your reading enjoyment. :)

They pray a lot before they come


They prepare a lot before they come


They seem to pack these things for the trip

Don’t forget to pack:

The Obvious

1. Your Bible – Trips can be a great time to hear from God. I know you will be experiencing some long days but try to make some time to read the scripture each day before you go out. I like to recommend people read the book of Acts while they are on a mission trip. Idea: I have heard of some people who give their bible to a person that they really connected with at the end of the week as a gift.

2. Your Journal – I think it is great to write something each day about your trip. What is God teaching you? What is He showing you about the people? How does this apply to the place where you live? Idea: Write down some specific actions points that you can do once you return home. Chances are there are many people groups who live around you in your own city.

3. You prayer supporters back home – You really need good prayer support when you come on these trips. My challenge to each group is to have at least 7 people committed to prayer for them each day. Ideas: I have seen people create a prayer calendar for each day that they are gone. I have seen people blog about that trip as they go and put prayer requests up. I have seen people create a google group for their prayer supporters which offers more security since it is password protected. The point is to enlist friends, family members and your church to prayer for you specifically for this time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Short Term Mission Teams

Last week I talked about different types of partnerships.

so far I have written about:

  • The Sending Church
  • Prayer Advocates

But what about the Short Term Mission Teams? – People or Groups who come over for a one time project or event.

This would be what I would call a “one-off” project. Honestly in my overseas experience I have usually preferred longer term partnerships with churches BUT often a one time project can lead to a strategic partnership that turns into long term. I think it can be a matter of preference for the worker on the field as they put together their needs.

There are a lot of articles out there about the usefulness of short term teams. Do they serve a purpose other than expanding the worldview and heart for missions for the person or church coming over. While these are two awesome benefits for people who come over I think they can serve in some ways and do some things that we may not be able to do. I think they can compliment our strategy to see people come to Christ and for churches to be planted. It takes intentionality on the part of the missionary to put this into their strategy.

If we do not think ahead in how we can utilize volunteer teams then it can put us in the position of responding to a team who wants to come over with a certain purpose in mind. In other words, inserting them into our ministry whether it is strategic or not. We need to be thinking of ways to proactively work with churches who want to come and serve.

Another good aspect about a one time project is that it gives both the church and the worker the chance to see if the chemistry is good for a longer term ministry relationship. Something that is very important in my opinion.

What do you think?

Are short term teams beneficial?

If so, how have you seen it work effectively?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Coming Soon

I want to take minute to tell you about this conversation that will be happening soon. My good friend Robert Beckman is part of a network in Florida called

They are having the Live Sent 2009 Conversation in September and if you can make this I think it promises to be one of the best in 2009. Lots of interaction and dialog. Some of the conversations will be from Alan Hirsch and Neil Cole.

Live Sent 2009

Creating Missional Conversations for the Reproduction of Leaders and New Churches

Lakeland, Florida

September 17 & 18, Thursday 1pm-6pm and Friday 1pm-6pm.

Go to their website to register

You will really like these guys and The Upstream Collective enjoys partnering with them.