Home Forums Got a Short Term Mission Question? Pre-trip, On-trip, Post-trip; Where’s the emphasis?

Pre-trip, On-trip, Post-trip; Where’s the emphasis?

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    • #4474


      I’m hoping someone can help me wrestle through this a little bit. While I am an avid fan of short term missions, I have been on several, I find myself consistently disagreeing with the textbook.  The book points to the most important part of the trip being how we prepare, and then the second most important as how the trip impacts us. The third most important being the trip itself.

      Coming from a youth ministry, and a discipleship context I have always been taught that the most important part is how the trip impacts student. To me the goal of short term missions isn’t how well we prepared or how well we performed. The goal is to create a long lasting impact on the students we take with us.  Is there a fruit produced out of our efforts?

      I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, as I’m clearly biased in the fact that I realized I wanted to become a pastor during the post-trip stage of a missions trip while in grade 12. What do you guys think is the most important part of a trip? and why should that be the part we are the most intentional about?

    • #4484

      Mark Crocker

      great question! The question is a lot like one I often hear, basically, “who is mission for?”

      …can I add another?

      Who is a marriage for?

      Who is a friendship for?

      I think that if we understand that the question does not really fit, then we can change our question to something better. I think we need to do the same about mission. What do you think would be a better question about friendship or marriage and mission?

      • #4485


        Thats a good question David. I believe that the most important part of the trip will be the pre-trip. How effective the team is on the trip is based on how well they work as a team. As well how much they understand about the culture. Good pre-trip planning  and team development will lead to greater growth in the youth on the trip. It is great for the youth to have new experiences and to grow spiritually. How well you train the team and plan before the trip  will effect the experiences of the youth on the team. All parts of the trip are important and necessary, however how you start the trip will effect every aspect that follows.

    • #4487


      Great question. I think that there is definitely fruit produced through short term mission for the people that you are going to serve and definitely for the youth going. Although good and well thought out pre planning does make a difference in your trip and how effective you can be. This also ties into avoiding doing any destruction to the culture as you are there. From a youth ministries perspective I believe that that is the most important part and reason for going. Youth getting to experience new culture, build new relationships, see God use them and grow in their relationship with him.

      As to define what the most important part of a trip. We are going to serve whatever the host culture needs us to do. I do not think that it is the doing that is the most important although it is an important part. I think that the most important part is not so much in the ‘doing’ in regards to youth, but how they are being challenged to reach that next level in their faith. Which remains to be different depending on the student.

    • #4488


      I think that a risk I see developing through the asking of this question (though it’s an important question) is that it distracts us from the reality of the centrality of Jesus Christ in the purpose of STM. The most important part of STM is drawing close to Jesus ourselves as well as moving others towards Him. This movement can happen in the pre-trip, during-trip, and post-trip phases, and therefore none of these should be singled out as “the most important”.

    • #4503


      I agree Charissa! I think it should be a balance. The reason so much focus goes into the pre-trip prep is so that the trip is effective, and so much work goes into post-trip because the trip can be really impacting. But the entirety of the STM should all be focused on advancing the Kingdom of God so all aspects are equally as important. I think so much emphasis goes on pre and post- trip simply because there’s more time. Trips start being planned months before, and you have your whole life to think about the trip after, but the trip itself is usually not very long at all. Just time-wise I think that takes away from the feeling of importance of the actual trip.

    • #4509


      <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″> I agree with you both (Ashley and Charissa), but I also think that we need to realize that there already is (or should always be) a main focus of the advancement of the kingdom of God no madder what type of ministry that you are involved in.  If we assume that this is what is already naturally in place when it comes to STM, then I think that is actually important to look at this question.  We have our main goal, but now where do we put our focus to best reach that goal?   </span></p>
      <p class=”p1″><span class=”s1″> To answer Davids question myself, I would say that the pre-trip is the most important.  This is not to diminish the importance of debrief or the actual trip itself, but I think that focusing on the preparation of the trip would be the absolute most important thing for the advancement of the kingdom.  If we put as much as we can into the training and preparation, when we are on the trip, the things that God has us there for will be more natural and become more second nature.  You don’t go to a music recital and expect that you only need a little practice if you just try hard and reflect on what you did after.  You practice meticulously for hours to make sure that you have the song perfect before going and playing for other people.  The musicians that can improvise and jive with a band on the fly are the ones that have spent a life time practicing what they know is proper, and are now so comfortable that they are free to go with what they educatedly feel is going to work.  If we focus on the Pre-trip, and get our hearts and minds in a place of readiness to do what ever God is going to have us do, then I think that we will have the best impact on kingdom of God.  </span></p>

    • #4528


      I honestly don’t know if you can dissect it down to it’s parts by placing a higher importance on one than another, just due to the fact that if you neglect any of these pieces, your trip will be unsuccessful. I think some kids will need a lot more time preparing, some will learn the most actually on the trip, and other kids will need a lot more time to debrief and make sense of it all and what it means to them. But, because you’re going to have such a wide variety of personalities in any trip and have to work with all of these needs, I just don’t see how you can call one more valuable than another.

    • #4547


      Hey David, I’m just here to offer a thought. Now I’m not sure if you remember the sermon I preached back in Homiletic s. One aspect of it had to due with the question of “Why are you doing ministry?” Now whether you are doing it for the impact it has on the students or to help out missionaries in the places you’re going there are several things you need to ask yourself.

      1) Why are your students doing it?

      2) Why are you doing it?

      3) How does this affect who you take on the missions trip itself?

      In doing all of this it allows you to identify why you are taking students to somewhere like Mexico for example. Although you may think they need it and need the life change that might come from it you have to recognize life change will only come from God and until that life change comes about they might not have a desire to participate. The preparation for the trip is what allows you to, first of all, evaluate your students and try and focus them on what they will be doing there. Apathy and conflict will arise in the trip if you don’t prepare the students. The other thing is you cannot guarantee life change. You can and most likely will pray for it but that decision is ultimately left to the big man. “We only do what we can” and for us that is preparing for the trip.

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