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

Mentoring for Missions: Five Ways to Help Tomorrow’s Mission Force Grow

By Marti Wade

None of us get where we’re going alone. And when the direction God is tugging us involves something as, well, apparently preposterous as leaving everything we know and moving to another country for cross-cultural service, we’re going to need a lot of help and encouragement to get there from here. Few make it to the field without help from a team of intercessors, cheerleaders, and supporters.

The most valuable player on that team may be a mentor. Mission mentors help tomorrow’s missionaries grow and get where they’re going. Usually a mentor is someone who has been down that road before (or one like it) and who is available and committed to walk alongside others as they try to find where they fit and take the next steps in their journey.

Want to find a mission mentor, become one, or just get some ideas to keep your mentoring relationship alive and growing? Consider these five activities would-be missionaries and their mentors can do together:

1. Talk things over.

Prospective missionaries need someone to listen to their story and hear about their vision, opportunities, and experiences. They need someone to help them recognize their strengths and weaknesses and to articulate their ideas (and maybe some misconceptions) about serving in ministry. A mentor can be that listening ear.

Need help? See 101 Incredible Coaching Questions (The School of Coaching Mastery) and Two Powerful Questions for Moving Forward (PeopleResults).

2. Seek God together.

All the self-awareness, talent, and training in the world can’t take the place of knowing and following God and doing what He says. Potential missionaries and their mentors may find their most fruitful time together is spent praying together for the world and for discernment about next steps in service.

Tips? Consider using something like Operation World or Prayercast as fuel for global intercession. Brainstorm and write down the key questions, concerns, or obstacles you face and pray about them, preferably often and with others.

3. Read and discuss a good book.

Often mission agencies and training programs will assign mission books, articles, or Bible studies for a prospective missionary to go through. Studying or reading together or at least discussing the contents with a mentor can increase retention and clarify lessons learned.

You have many options. You might work through Mission Smart: 15 Critical Questions to Ask before Launching Overseas or one of the books on our AskaMissionary.com book list, for example.

4. Serve together.

While cross-cultural ministry is full of surprises, the best predictor of future success is still past success. Missionaries need to learn and grow through ministry close to home before they serve far away. Besides that, many of us learn best through what we do and experience, not from someone telling us what they think we need to know. For these reasons more and more missionary training programs include a strong experiential element, including opportunities for evangelism, service, teaching and leading others, and cross-cultural relationship-building.

The prospective missionary who serves with a wise and sympathetic mentor close at hand has an edge: someone to help them make the most of these ministry experiences and learn as much as they can about God, themselves, and serving in ministry before they “go.” So find a way to pursue ministry together if you can. At least talk through ministry experiences before and after they happen.

5. Stay in touch.

Even mission mentors and prospective missionaries who are not able to meet face to face on a regular basis can stay in touch. Check in with one another by phone, text, or email. This is a great way to provide encouragement and accountability on any steps either of you has agreed to take in the process.

Not able to do all these things or find someone to walk with in these ways? Pray and ask God for eyes to see what you can do to mentor others or find what you need from those who could mentor you. In many cases, the role of mentor is not filled by one person who’s always there, but by a loose network of diverse people or a series of mentors over time.

» Comment on this article below or see previous Propel articles on mentoring.

Help Others Discover Their Place to Serve

ShortTermMissions.comDo you know someone thinking about a mission trip? January is the peak month for locating mission trips at ShortTermMissions.com. Help spread the word!

The ShortTermMissions.com website also includes a variety of articles about choosing a trip.

» See our website for sample text and graphics. In addition, you can help others discover ShortTermMissions.com by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter. We encourage you to share our social media posts with others in your network.

How M-DAT Helps Tomorrow’s Mission Force Grow

A mentor or a coach simply helps another person develop the understanding, skill, and experience they need to accomplish their goals. That is how M-DAT serves every day, by phone, email, or in person, and especially through our web services as we harness technology for kingdom purposes.

» ShortTermMissions.com connects people to many great options for short-term exposure to cross-cultural ministry and tries to match them up with options that fit their experience, skills, and passion, and the vision that God is growing in them.

» AskaMissionary.com offers potential missionaries advice from dozens of experienced missionaries serving in a variety of ministries all around the world.

» PreparingToGo.com provides those considering overseas service with video clips of experienced missionaries sharing how it felt for them to walk through the various stages of becoming a missionary.

Thanks for supporting and encouraging the M-DAT staff and sending others our way.

Meet the Staff: Dani Cypert

Dani Cypert serves as M-DAT’s customer care provider and works part-time from her home in Northwest Arkansas. She loves both helping ministries learn to promote their trips well and helping people find the mission trip that’s right for them.

The Cyperts are a very mission-minded family. Dani and her husband, a pastor, have a daughter in high school and a son in college, and are blessed and encouraged that both of them are pursing ministry.

Prayer and Gratitude

Thank you for praying!

  • Visitors: After analyzing the data for 2014 we are happy to report that ShortTermMissions.com received 273,248 visits during the year, with 1.55 million page views. AskaMissionary.com got 88,868 visits and 180,647 page views. Even our least-developed service, PreparingtoGo.com, received 12,417 visits and 26,654 page views. We’re grateful for these signs of fruitfulness.
  • Mission Trips: In addition to the high number of visitors accessing our services, we rejoice that in 2014, the average number of trips listed on ShortTermMissions.com at any time rose 18% above its previous levels (to reach its highest point ever!)
  • Leadership: We asked you to pray for additional members for the M-DAT Board. Howard Hebert, an M-DAT Board member when the ministry was formed 15 years ago, has returned to the Board. Welcome back! Howard and his wife Londa have been a great encouragement to the M-DAT team over the years, and previous to that made several trips to help the Armstrongs in Guatemala.

Please pray for us…

  • Promotion: We recently mailed almost 800 postcards to mission organizations who don’t yet post trips on ShortTermMissions.com. Will you pray that some of them will choose to list their opportunities on the site?
  • Meetings: Please also pray for the M-DAT leadership as they gather for their annual meeting in late March near St. Louis and wrestle with current issues.
  • Programming: Finally, continue to pray for our programmer as he revamps the back-end management system for ShortTermMissions.com. Good progress has been made, but we still have a ways to go. Once that is finished we plan to make some needed improvements to benefit the 115 agencies who post their trips on ShortTermMissions.com.

M-DAT helps people make it to the mission field. Explore our websites:

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