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

Help Others Discover Their Place to Serve

Spreading the Word about M-DAT Services

By M-DAT Staff

Do you know someone thinking about a mission trip? January is the peak month for locating mission trips at ShortTermMissions.com. If you know people who may be looking for opportunities, help spread the word!

See our website for sample text and graphics. The ShortTermMissions.com website also includes a variety of articles about choosing a trip, preparing to go, debriefing, and more which you may want to use as a resource and pass along to others.

You can also help those you know discover ShortTermMissions.com and other M-DAT services by following us on social media and sharing our posts (see below).

Like our web services, our social media streams help people move into missions.

Find ShortTermMissions.com on Facebook

Find AskaMissionary.com on Facebook

Find ShortTermMissions.com on Twitter

Find AskaMissionary.com on Twitter

…PreparingToGo.com and M-DAT both have social media accounts on both those services as well. Look for them, too!

Extending Our Reach on Facebook

You might have noticed that even if you have “liked” an organization’s Facebook page, you may seldom see posts from that group. You can always pull up their page and catch up that way. But to regularly see posts in your feed from an organization you care about (such as your church or our ministry) you have to take a few extra steps to be sure Facebook knows you’re interested. Here’s how it works.STM FB screenshot

1. Go to the page on Facebook and scroll over the “following” button.

2. Set your preferences to “see first” and confirm that your “notifications” are on.

We would be thrilled if you would take the time to do this for ShortTermMissions.com and AskaMissionary.com. This will allow you to see more of our posts when you log onto Facebook so you can react, comment, and share them with friends. Thanks!

 

Prayer and Gratitude

Rejoice with us, and please be praying…

  • Pray for our director, David, as we add specialized part-timers to the M-DAT team. He now coordinates the activities of our five regular part-timers plus two more whose jobs are sporadic.
  • Pray for the ongoing programming for our web services. At times it is repetitive and time-consuming, yet the time spent is crucial to creating features that will help mission agencies share information and seekers find opportunities that fit.
  • Pray for more agencies to post their opportunities on ShortTermMissions.com.
  • We’re grateful for Rebecca Skinner, who is initiating a new marketing and sales push. Over the last two months she lined up organizations to advertise in our 2017 newsletters, reaching two unique lists developed over the years.

Empowering Partnership

When Mike Let the Youth Lead the Meeting

By David Armstrong

The word “empowering” immediately draws to mind one of my youth leaders years ago.

Mike expected us to brainstorm and plan our weekly meetings, line up speakers, prepare everything, and make it all happen. And we did. We had never done these things before, but, because Mike said we could, we did.

We didn’t know what we didn’t know. But through regular and constant interaction, questions were asked and answered and we figured out ways to learn what we didn’t know and do what we had never done before.

We didn’t know that most youth groups were run by the leaders, not the youth. We just assumed that was our role since he said so, and we went to work on it.

I doubt that our ideas and ways were better than his, but he heard, weighed what we said and encouraged us on. We knew we had the freedom to think, experiment, and even fail. That was all just part of the process. Looking back I realize he expected us to make so many of the decisions that I don’t recall him making decisions at all, though likely he did.

Empowering also means letting go and losing control. It means allowing someone the freedom to fail coupled with being willing to stand by them whether they fail or succeed. For example, I like the idea of a family-oriented church, where kids are involved and take part and help out. Then I noticed that it bugged me when the lyrics on the screen didn’t match where we were in the worship songs we were singing. Encouraging the kids to run the worship slides was empowering to them but ended up being frustrating to me. It was then that I realized one of the inherent tensions in empowering.

If I release control and empower, it might not turn out the way I imagined. Empowering partnering involves losing control. It involves the freedom to fail. And it involves us graciously standing together when the outcome doesn’t meet expectations.

Empowering partnership. That’s one of the seven key standards of excellence in short-term missions. Excellent short-term mission trips require these kinds of empowering partnerships with the folks who receive us and our teams. Excellent long-term work does as well. Are you ready for that?

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

An excellent short-term mission establishes healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners, and is expressed by primary focus on intended receptors, plans which benefit all participants, and mutual trust and accountability.

 

“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence…
When the best leader’s work is done, the people will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
(Chinese philosopher Lao Tze)

 

Trends in Short-term Mission

More Interest in Longer Mission Trips?

We recently made a study of search and inquiry patterns related to mission trip information on the ShortTermMissions.com website. It suggests a greater interest in longer mission trips than we have previously seen. As in the past, most searchers seem to be looking for mission trips that are a few weeks long. During a recent 18-month period, however, we saw the number of those searching for trips at least three months long has doubled to 24 percent.

Longer mission trips offer more cross-cultural experience. They often include a stronger focus on mentoring and discipling participants and preparing them for long-term service. In the last four years we have observed a number of short-term sending agencies refocusing their efforts to provide more opportunities of this type.

Please pray with us (and the mission organizations sponsoring trips). Pray that these longer trips will continue to attract interest and accomplish much in the lives of those who go as well as those among whom they serve.

» Read ShortTermMissions.com Search Summary Reports.

Global Mission Mobilization Efforts

WEA Releases Landmark Study

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) recently published an extensive, international study of mission mobilization efforts which includes some findings that may pique your interest.

1. What Is Missions?

Missions paradigms are in a state of flux. Those surveyed had no common understanding of what is and isn’t “missions,” but held a variety of views on casting the net wide to include social action as well as evangelism, local ministry (cross-cultural or not) along with international work, and short-term as well as long-term efforts.

2. How Do We Mobilize?

Mission mobilization approaches also vary. Some models focus on education and information, while others emphasize mentoring and relationship building, specific programs and processes, or simple pragmatism. Each model has its strengths and weaknesses and most efforts blend more than one approach.

3. What Fans the Flames or Douses Them?

Researchers identified a number of “accelerants” to world mission involvement. These include the example, encouragement, and support of family members, and, though to lesser extent, missionaries and church leaders. Biographies, conferences, and classes all may play a role. The bottom line, though, on why people become missionaries? It’s their sense that God has called them to it. (We reported similar findings from other research in a previous Propel article, Mobilization through Mentoring: How Relationships Are Our Most Powerful Tools).

Researchers also identified “retardants” or obstacles to world mission involvement. These include funding and fundraising challenges (especially for non-Western would-be missionaries), cumbersome mission structures and requirements, and tendencies in our larger cultures toward secularism, individualism, and materialism. The authors also point out that rather than blame individuals, organizations, or circumstances, we should acknowledge we are in a spiritual battle against forces that seek to undermine the extension of God’s influence in the world.

» Want to learn more? Read Mission in Motion: Speaking Frankly of Mobilization, edited by Jay Matenga and Malcolm Gold. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2016.

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