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

Archive for the ‘Preparing to go’ Category

2015 in Review: A Year of Growth

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

 

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% 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.

 

Obstacles to Serving in Missions

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

“I have traveled the country speaking and meeting with college students from 150 colleges, teaching God’s heart for the world and challenging people to live missionally,” says Josh Cooper, author of the 2013 book Hold Fast: The Mission of God and the Obstacles of Man.

“Everyone has at least one good excuse why they shouldn’t live their life for the mission of God. Therefore, most people who live for God’s purpose won’t end up doing so accidentally. Out of the hundreds of thousands challenged to be missional Christians, only a small handful make it.”

Cooper recognizes nine obstacles which hold back today’s students and keep them from considering full-time missionary service as a reasonable option for their lives:

  1. A lack of awareness of God’s mission purposes
  2. A focus on needs closer to home
  3. Materialism
  4. Romantic relationships
  5. Family opposition
  6. Theological issues (e.g., pluralism)
  7. Uncertainty about their calling
  8. The burden of debt
  9. Concerns about raising support

Cooper shares stories of those who have overcome each struggle and provides encouragement to keep the reader moving forward.

» Know students or others who could use this book? Get copies for them and one for yourself, then read and discuss it together.

How Do You Find a Mission Mentor?

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

mentoringMany of those we serve through ShortTermMissions.com went on mission trips this summer! After they return, then what? Anyone whose purpose in going was to explore long-term direction – or who came back thinking that way – needs some extra help.

Mission mobilization and service groups like ours provide encouragement and virtual coaching. Another very helpful resource for anyone charting a course from short-term to long-term is a mission mentor who can walk alongside them on a journey of months or years. Yet how do you find such a mission mentor?

Many of the sending agencies we work with have mission coaches and mentors on their staff. These servants like nothing better than to talk to people interested in going, hear their stories, and encourage them along the way.

Mission agency staff have experience and expertise to offer, but they aren’t the only option, as Elizabeth Givens, of SEND International, points out. “Does your church have a mentoring program for those interested in missions? Ask your pastor. Are there retired missionaries in your circle of friends or your church? Look around for a man or woman you admire and with whom you feel you could connect. Then ask them if you can meet with them regularly and learn from them in a mentoring relationship.”

“Mentoring does not have to be face-to-face,” she adds. “You may have an experienced missionary in your life who would be willing to connect with you regularly on email, Skype, or Facetime. You can each brew your OWN cup of coffee and plunge into the conversation.”

» Want to find a mentor – or be one? Read the rest of Elizabeth’s answer and others at How do I find a mentor to help me prepare for missions? (AskaMissonary.com).

Gamers make the best missionaries

Monday, June 27th, 2011

by David Armstrong

You’re not serious!

Yes, actually I am. For you see, strategy game players develop several skills that are very valuable in missions.

Gamers understand the value of strategies. Whether they use general principles or well defined specifics, they have developed ways to bring success and ways to evaluate their effectiveness. In ministry and missions — as well as life in general, one must plan ahead and set up situations conducive to growth and success. Interact with others, seek advice from Godly men and set your course. Remember, “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Prov 15:22).

Gamers have learned to flex in their strategies, to adjust to unexpected circumstances. They have learned to nimbly modify or shift their strategies when Plan A doesn’t work. As a result, gamers innovate, try new approaches and experiment with novel combinations. They know that when one rolls dice, the number seven should be the most frequent number with 6 and 8 right behind it. However, from experience they have learned that in any given game, that may not happen for much of the game!

No matter how much one calculates and plans, often the expected resources will actually be in short supply, the expected and hoped for patterns won’t materialize. Flexibility is key to maintaining a positive attitude in an unpredictable and changing environment.

Gamers observe what is happening around them and adjust their behavior. They notice what others do, and don’t do, and adjust their actions accordingly. They adjust to the way people trade resources. They adjust to the strength and dominance of other players in their part of the board or in their control of a given resource. They work around the interfering pieces on the board and have learned to take the resources that come their way and make the best of them or find an alternate route to the resources they need. (more…)

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