Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Mobilizing through Mentoring: How Relationships Are Our Most Powerful Tools

By Marti Wade

Consider the Power of Personal Connection

The recent Launch Survey conducted by our friend and colleague John McVay asked hundreds of long-term workers about key factors that helped them get to the field. High on the list were:

  • The support of friends and family
  • A positive relationship with the agency or team they would join
  • Personal interaction with long-term workers

These were topped only by a sense of calling or guidance into ministry that came from God and a passion for sharing the gospel.

This suggests that effective mobilization depends more on relationships than it does on conferences, classes, books, sermons, or most anything else. Relationships are “what works.” Let’s do our part to build relationships with tomorrow’s global workers!

Three Avenues

Would God use YOU to come alongside tomorrow’s mission force today? Consider these three avenues for mobilization and ask the Lord if He’d have you intentionally pursue one or more in 2016.

1. Be a resource.

Remember that people aren’t led on the basis of information that do not have. Serve your church or group by becoming a conduit for global prayer requests, kingdom-focused world news, or resources that could open people’s eyes to current mission issues and strategies.

2. Fan the flames.

Make sure people in your church who are interested in missions know that you are, too, and that you’re willing to talk to those who want to learn more or take some steps to pursue global ministry. Listen for those who indicate an interest and be intentional about following up to hear more and encourage them.

3. Mentor millenials.

Especially if you are serving cross-culturally, make room in your schedule to connect with those who show interest in finding their own fit in mission (even if they are young enough to be your children or grandchildren!) Resist the expectation that you focus your communication efforts on talking about what you’re doing and how to support it. Rather, seek ways to invest in and equip those who might follow in your footsteps or who need someone else to be excited for them as they take steps on a journey of their own.

These were topped only by a sense of calling or guidance into ministry that came from God and a passion for sharing the gospel.

» Learn more about the Launch Survey.

Learn about being a mobilizer, and check out 6 Ways to Reach God’s World (OMF).

Mission Data International: Bringing People and Missions Together Using Internet Technology

By David Armstrong

Making connections: that’s the job of a bridge, or a bottle of glue, or the Internet, and it’s also what M-DAT does by providing services and resources people need to take themselves to their next step in mission involvement.

Our best contribution is in serving those in their twenties and thirties who are somewhere on the journey from hearing God’s call to missions and buying their plane ticket to head overseas. Normally this is a period of 4-6 years, years during which they move from interest to commitment, from desire to departure, from thinking about it to actually doing it.

During this time of preparation, God’s global servants are answering questions like:

  • What kind of ministry focus is God leading me to? Church planting? Bible translation? Starting a relationship-building business overseas? Training pastors and leaders? Friendship evangelism through meeting practical needs?
  • Where in the world should I go? To what kind of people? With what organization?
  • How will this work be funded? How much do I need? How can I raise support?

AskAMissionary.com and PreparingToGo.com are designed to help a person answer those questions and encourage them to persevere. ShortTermMissions.com points people toward transformational mission trips. Articles, resource lists, and newsletters connected to these services point tomorrow’s missionaries to life-changing experiences like the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course.

We are humbled and honored that God has used three couples, a dozen volunteers, and 200 friends and partnering churches to make these services possible through their work and sacrifice. And we appreciate your tracking with us and praying for us over the years.

2015 in Review: A Year of Growth

 

As we start 2016 and look back on 2015, we realize we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those whose support and encouragement has enabled us to serve those God is raising up for mission service.

Will you take a minute and reflect with us on what God has done? Despite a number of changes and challenges, we saw growth in several key areas.

Mission Trip Search Engine

ShortTermMissions.com saw a 10% increase in traffic in 2015 and received just short of 300,000 visits. Each year about 90 percent of the partnering organizations decide to continue. In 2015, more than 100 organizations posted information about more than 2,000 trips and received more than 20,000 inquiries. The site also has a very low rate of bounces (those who find the site but leave within the first 10 seconds).

The quarterly ShortTermMissions.com newsletter, launched in 2013, now has more than 13,000 subscribers. Remarkable! Along with a growing social media presence, it continues to connect with those who use the service and invite them back to the site.

Missionary Q&A

In the last year and a half, AskAMissionary.com has seen a significant increase in traffic, with a 56% increase during 2015 alone. Traffic grew steadily throughout the year for a total of more than 130,000 visits. Page views were also up 38%, to reach 248,000.

Unfortunately, the bounce rate for the site was high; many come to the site but do not stay to view additional pages. The length of time people spend on the site and the number of pages they view has decreased slowly over the last three years, despite measures taken to make the site engaging.

Less surprising is a slight decrease in visits to PreparingToGo.com, a web service with a similar purpose. It’s designed to provide video excerpts of missionaries showing their journey to the field. Traffic to the site, which is maintained but not being further developed, was down 7%. Yet it still reached more than 11,000 visits and 24,000 page views in 2015.

We’re grateful for the ways the Lord has used these resources.

 

Gratitude and Prayer

Please pray…

  • For the 30,000 people expected to use ShortTermMissions.com service this month to search for a mission trip that fits them or their group. That’s a lot of folks looking! January sees more traffic to this site than any other month.
  • For a good response to a January mailing to 740 mission agencies. We hit some snags setting up a new bulk mail account that delayed the mailing.
  • For the 9300 users who access AskAMissionary.com each month for help in answering their questions about getting involved in missions. Some know nothing and are starting from scratch. Others are knowledgeable and have very specific questions.

Thank you for praying!

  • Join us in praising God for a new arrangement with a programming service company which will be able to help us make the small, regular changes needed to keep M-DAT websites operating well and up to date.
  • Thank God for the increased traffic to ShortTermMissions.com, up 10%, and AskAMissionary.com, up more than 50% in the past year. Continue praying for those using these web services as they look for new ways to be involved in God’s global purposes.

Follow-through Falls through the Cracks

By David Armstrong

Follow-through wins again! For eight years running, mission leaders have acknowledged that “follow-through” is the most problematic area in their short-term mission programs.

Whenever I put on my Standards of Excellence in Short-term Mission (SOE) hat and teach the Standards Introductory Workshop to short-term mission program leaders, I ask them which of the seven standards they see as their strongest and weakest. They consistently flag #7, follow-through, as the area in which they feel they most need to improve.

We can, though rejoice that great resources and models have been developed in this area since it was first identified as a weakness.

About Follow-through

The term refers to the things we want to see happen after the trip, and it usually has three parts:

Evaluation

As an organizer, assess the methods, plans, processes, leadership, and results of the mission trip. Did things go as planned? Did you accomplish what you hoped? Was it done in the spirit you desired? What might you do differently next time?

Debriefing

As a facilitator, serve participants by asking questions like “How did you do? What did you experience? What did you understand? What did you walk away feeling and thinking and deciding?” Debriefing is personal and wrapped up in emotion, so it’s best done by someone the short-termer trusts, who knows them, and who can give them the chance to “think out loud.”

Next Steps

After looking back on the trip, it’s time to look forward. Ask participants, “As a result of what you have experienced, learned, and understood, what do you believe God wants you to do? How will this experience affect your life?” A good next-steps process requires intentionality and sensitivity as well as time and space for reflection.

Why This Matters

Doing short-term mission well requires a commitment to learn and grow. Serving our short-termers well means walking with them through their expectations, experiences, and emotions. It’s far too easy  to drop the ball and move on to the next project, skipping some key steps in our commitment to both our learning process and theirs.

At an Urbana Conference some years ago I spent several hours talking with one of the students who had gone on a mission trip with us the previous summer. God hadn’t done what she had expected Him to do during that trip. He did things in a very different way. Five months later she was still coming to grips with that. What would it look like to care for and come alongside participants like this student?

Are you involved sending, receiving, or assisting short-term teams? How are you doing with your “follow through”?

» To learn more, see The Seven Standards of Excellence.

“An excellent short-term mission assures evaluation, debriefing, and appropriate follow-through for all participants, and is expressed by comprehensive debriefing of all participants (pre-field, on-field, post-field), thoughtful and appropriate follow-through for goer-guests, and on-field, and post-field evaluation among sending and receiving partners.”

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