We are navigating the waters of missional efforts in a day when the emphasis is not on the short-term team as much as it has been in the past. More and more of the focus of churches, mission agencies and organizations is on mid-term and long-term efforts to difficult, unreached areas of the world. The Father's heart is for all people and these areas of tough ministry are in much need of long-term commitment by Christ-followers to carry the Gospel message with passion and patience.
The short-term team is vital to the long-term commitment as it is the foundation of a life called to serving the Kingdom and showing the Gospel. Over the course of nearly twenty-seven years of ministry I have maintained a commitment to short-term mission trip experiences as the building blocks of a missional life. It was through a short-term trip that I was exposed to the needs of migrate workers in North Carolina and Native Americans in southern Arizona. It was through these week long experiences that God began to develop an awareness in my heart of the difficulty many face around the globe in daily life. Through watching my parents and other mission leaders model serving and sharing the Gospel on the short-term field God birthed a passion for the lost in my heart that is still burning hot today.
At the core of the short-term experience is an opportunity to gain first hand knowledge and on the field training for evangelism and discipleship. It is from these basic building blocks that the Lord developed the passion of One Way Ministries, Reach the World and Teach the Word!
Reaching the world is a task that is God-sized. Only through a clear understanding of our role in God's work of reaching the world with the truth of the Gospel, can we then join Him in His work by sharing the Gospel message and showing Gospel in serving others. Henry Blackaby developed a clear view of how we fit into God's plan of revealing Himself to the world through his book and study Experiencing God. This resource has helped me put feet and hands to the truths we learn in the Word. We are all called to reach the world. Every one of us who call ourselves a Christ-follower has been commanded to share and show the whole truth of the Gospel.
On the short-term mission trip we are given the opportunity to see the Gospel at work in the daily lives of the local church and the Christ-followers we serve alongside. This short experience is used by the Lord to challenge us and stir our hearts for those around us on the field. The importance of the short-term team experience is to open our minds and hearts up to the needs we see all around us and the work that God is already doing to meet those needs. It is when we come home from a cross-cultural experience that the real work begins in our own backyard.
The short-term mission experience is a building block for a world view that is God-like. God sees the world much differently than you and I. His perpsective of people and cultures and cities and countries is very different than our perspective. The short-term experience helps us open our eyes and our heart to the global view that God has of the people around us. When we begin to look at the needs of those on the field as needs we can do something about, God begins to draw our attention back home. The goal is to help us learn while on the field how much more we can do right at home to reach the world!
Imagine if every local body of believers were to take the call to reach their world right around their community serious and focus everything they have on their local community with passion and patience! How much of the world could we reach if we all focused at the same time on each of our communities?
How important is a short-term mission team? I believe the short-term team is vital to reaching the world and teaching His Word to every disciple. Without the short-term team experience, we will not see young people shift their world view to a Biblical world view and hear God's voice as He calls them to give their lives in service to the King! Without the short-term team we will see a drop in college students taking their summers and occasional semesters to give their lives in another context for the sake of the Gospel. Without the short-term team we will not see young adults abandoning the dream of a big house and nice cars and comfortable lives for the challenge of a crucified life utilizing their talents and skills in areas where people have never heard the Gospel. Without the short-term team we will see families remain inwardly focused and never see the impact of a Christ honoring family on a community without a model of a family to show the Gospel while serving the Body of Christ.
I think the realities of a missional approach to reaching the world without utilizing short-term teams to introduce, educate, challenge and train individuals, small groups and families for long-term global impact are incredibly devastating to the spread of the Gospel. So, will you allow the Spirit of God to stir in your heart as you search for the opportunities He has placed before you to join a short-term mission trip this year and experience His life-changing impact in another context that will drive you back home with passion and patience? Will you consider who you will journey along side this year to experience the mission field in another context and out your back door? Will you seek to reach the world and teach His Word this year with at least 2% of your year? Will you trust His heart and allow His hand to guide you into the field that is so white and ready for harvest? Will you go and make disciples?
In His Grip.