“I’m Not Worthy!”

As pastor Wayne and his translator walked toward the homeless man in the street, the make-shift tents and people were everywhere.  This is the part of town most people avoid because of crime, drug use and homelessness.  No doubt for this KBC vision team to Brazil, the surroundings were a bit intimidating.  Yet, the team was determined to forego their comfort and share the love of Jesus with those whom society had already abandoned. 

The words out of Wayne’s mouth through the translator were simple, “We have come 3,000 miles from the United States to tell you that God loves you.”  The homeless man stood still and began to weep. He then spoke to the translator in Portuguese.  Shocked by the man’s response, Wayne asked for clarification with his translator.  “What’s wrong?” Wayne asked.

As the translator began to explain, Wayne knew that the Lord was at work.  “You see,” clarified the translator, “the man said, ‘I’m not worthy.’”  By God’s grace, Wayne shared with this man abandoned by society and enslaved to sinful devices that God sent His Son in order to take our sin and bare our shame. 

Indeed, Jesus is our substitute for sin as Isaiah the prophet foretold he would be, some 700 years before the Messiah is ever born.  “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening of our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed…. But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

The truth is, none of us are worthy.  Our unworthiness is why Jesus came.  He is worthy and only a perfect sacrifice for sinners would “justify the many” because “He will bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53:11).  After hearing about Jesus’ love for sinners and that He alone is worthy and could be the sacrifice for our sins (no matter what we have done), the man in that Brazilian street of the largest city in South America, with tears streaming down his face, trusted in the One who bore his griefs, sorrows, and sins.   

Men and women all over Brazil, Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Kentucky and everywhere in between need to hear of the only One worthy who was the sacrifice for sinners.  People in high rises and low rises, addicted to drugs and addicted to money, on the “right side” of the tracks and the “wrong side” of the tracks all need to know that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.” 

Kentucky Baptists, we know that we are not worthy.  That’s why Jesus came.  But countless others have no idea that He came, let alone of what He did.  By God’s grace, let’s lead our churches across the street and across the sea to say, “We have come to tell you that God loves you.” Perhaps we, too, will see tears stream down as the unworthy are made new.     

Evangelize the Unreached

Acts is a book about the advancement of the gospel (through the birthing of churches) as the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in the lives of Jesus followers. In fact, the Holy Spirit takes would-be cowards and transforms them into lion-hearted witnesses for Jesus. For example, Peter preaches his second sermon at the temple area in Acts 3.  Chapter 4 describes Peter and John being arrested for preaching the gospel.  Peter and John make it clear to the religious leaders who had arrested them that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus (Acts 4:12).  In the midst of hostility, Peter and John demonstrate gospel boldness.

The religious leaders are surprised by the confidence of Peter and John because they were uneducated men.  They further recognize that these two men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).  In order to squelch the boldness of Peter and John, the religious leaders threaten them to speak no more about Jesus (Acts 4:17).  You can imagine them being told that if they continue with their message, then they will do to them what was done to Jesus.  

Instead of cowering to the threat, Peter and John reply that they cannot help but speak about what they have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  In other words, we cannot keep silent; we must not keep silent.  They are threatened again and released.

Peter and John gather back with the church and report all that had happened (Acts 4:23).  Peter’s and John’s gospel boldness comes through their confidence in a sovereign God (Acts 4:27-28).  Just as God was in sovereign control over the death of Jesus, He is also in charge of their lives.  Thus, gospel boldness is rooted not in ourselves, but in someone else.   

They pray, not for deliverance per say, but for boldness to proclaim the gospel more (Acts 4:29).  While we might think that their prayer would revolve around asking for a way out, they actually pray for boldness in the midst of hostility.  The gospel spreads from Jerusalem and beyond as the church prays, the Spirit fills, and the believers are emboldened. 

Why such a change from chapter 1 where the disciples are locked up in an upper room?  Well, it’s really quite simple.  Jesus was dead, but now He is alive . . . and they knew it.  Jesus left them in order that He might send another Comforter who would fill them with power (John 14; Acts 1:8).  Still yet, the disciples really believed that Jesus is the only way to be saved.  That means any other way besides through Jesus alone is no way at all.  They were gripped by this truth!  They lived, breathed, slept and ate this truth.  Men and women, boys and girls are eternally lost without Jesus.  Whether as an individual in a remote tribe in Indonesia who mixes animism with Islam or a cultural Christian in suburban Kentucky or a postmodern living in a mega city, all are lost who do not forsake their sin and trust in Jesus alone for salvation.

Ultimately, to be unreached is to not know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Peter and John were gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves.  They lived their lives seeking to make Him know, even if it cost them theirs.  May we, too, be gripped by the truth that Jesus alone saves and pray for gospel boldness to reach the unreached.        

“Wait” Before We Go

When it comes to the Great Commission, the lostness of the world is second to the global glory of God.  God’s greatest concern is His great glory among the nations.  Only when our passion for God’s glory blazes will our endeavors to make Him famous among the nations shine bright. 

photo by IMB

Ironically, instead of blazing a trail for God’s glory in Jerusalem and abroad, the early disciples were first told to wait.  Wait?  The strategy for which the Lord gave the apostles began with waiting.  That seems quite odd for a movement that was intended to take the world by storm.  But if you think about it, where does this unquenchable passion for God’s glory among the nations come from? 

Jesus knew that what the early disciples needed most was power from on high, not power from within.  Passion for God is ultimately God-given passion.  Therefore, Jesus instructs the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised, namely the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5).  Both the power and passion for accomplishing the Great Commission comes from above; it comes from outside of ourselves.  The Holy Spirit would ignite a passion and provide the power to go into all the world preaching the gospel (Acts 1:6-8).

Interestingly, after Jesus’ departure, we find the disciples locked up in an upper room . . . waiting.  That is, waiting and praying (Acts 1:12-14).  Great Commission advancement always invovles waiting and praying.  A survey through Acts demonstrates that gospel boldness is closely connected and often follows the fervant prayers of God’s people (e.g., Acts 2:42; 3:1; 4:23-31; 6:6-7; 10:9; 13:1-3).

As we examine the book of Acts it’s no wonder why we see such incredible gospel advancement.  The early church bathed the advancement of the gospel in prayer.  Yet, prayer seems to be an afterthought in so many churches today when it comes to Great Commission faithfulness.  “The gospel must be on the go,” we say.  “We don’t have time to pray when lostness is all around us,” we chide.  Yet, the underlying truth that the early church understood, that we would do well to understand, is that the gospel advances supernaturally through the prayers of the people of God.  In other words, the battle against lostness is first fought on our knees.

photo by IMB

We need churches and associations entering the battlefield on their knees before going to their feet.  Yes, “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things” (Rom 10:15).  Yet, as we see from Acts, the beauty of our feet comes from calloused knees.  Great Commission faithfulness must begin with empowerment thru prayer.  Strategies void of prayer will be strategies void of power.  Only when God’s people cry out to Him, who alone can take a message offensive and foolish to the world and turn it into a beautiful embrace of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, will that message advance powerfully.  Let us be faithful to advance the Great Commission, but let us wait upon calloused knees for God to give us His power and passion.

Is Risk Right in Missions?*

“Is it safe?” This question echoes across church fellowship halls and Sunday School rooms as short-term informational meetings take place throughout the year in churches of all shapes and sizes. The call goes out in the church for a short-term team to go to ____ and do ____. A meeting is scheduled for those interested in this mission opportunity. Inevitably, pressing upon the inner thoughts of those interested or those who love those who are interested is the question of safety. “Will I or my loved one be safe?”

Forming our theology of risk is vital to an overall strategy for fulfilling the Great Commission. The purpose of a theology of risk allows individuals and groups to think through the reality that any mission endeavor (long-, mid- or short-term) involves risk. New Testament missionaries faced risk (e.g., Acts 9:15-16), and it is only appropriate to understand that today’s missionaries may also face risks or crises while serving God during mission efforts. In the face of such crises, a clear understanding of Scripture, as related to risk, should prepare mission team members to honor God despite difficult circumstances.

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is the foundation of all the church does in the name of Christ. Like Paul and Barnabas in the book of Acts, we are called upon to “risk” our lives for the cause of Christ (Acts 15:26).

Missions can involve high levels of risk—criminal, political, health, or even natural catastrophe.  Understanding God’s call on our lives is essential (Luke 9:23; 2 Timothy 2:1-4).  The biblical legacy of risk is evident in Scripture.  Paul was ready to be bound and even die, if necessary (Acts 21:13).  Some early believers could have escaped but chose not to (Hebrews 11:32-38).

No single response to danger is given in Scripture. Both fleeing and facing danger is given. There is freedom in either case; therefore, we must be careful not to develop hard-and-fast “rules” for risk. For example, Stephen faced risk in Acts 7-8, and the early believers fled in conjunction to his death (Acts 8:1-4). Neither are viewed as superior or less-than in these circumstances. In fact, God uses both facing and fleeing for His glory (Acts 11:19-26).

The problem for the church today is often not the decision of whether to face or flee danger, but whether we should even consider danger as an option. We assume that Jesus wants us to be safe and secure, so why would we go to other places where there are risks?  Jesus does not call us to safety; He calls us to be satisfied (in Him).

Facing or fleeing danger seemed to be assessed most often in Scripture based upon the need for the gospel in a particular place.  In Corinth, Paul, who was apparently fearful, was assured by God that he would be safe while he remained in Corinth preaching the gospel (Acts 18:9-11).  He understood that his calling was one of testifying to the gospel of the grace of God in places where it had not been heard (Acts 20:22-24).  He knew danger awaited him. 

There is a sense of urgency in Scripture for gospel advancement. This urgency means that, at times, Jesus calls us to face danger, and at other times, He calls us to flee from danger.  May God give us the wisdom and grace to do both. *(Portions adapted from Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions Policy and Procedure Manual)

Short-term Missions and Security

The world today is much different than it was 10 or 20 years ago.  While global traveling is much easier, it is also more difficult.  Preparing our teams for traveling and serving in strange places (whether in the US or abroad) is essential.

For the protection of the team, missionaries and national partners, here are some security guidelines that will benefit the short-term team.

  1. Never identify people overseas by name. Sharing personal information of partners overseas while you are overseas can jeopardize the work.  Do not share personal information in conversation or through social media.
  2. Avoid using Christian and mission terminology. Instead of using terms like “pray, missions, Bible, church, evangelism,” etc., one can say “talk with Dad, the family, the book, the work,” etc.
  3. Never identify yourself with a church, denomination or the IMB. Avoid clothing and hats that connect you with any of these groups.
  4. Do not leave written or printed information in your room that could identify local church or mission leaders. Places you go like hotels, restaurants, and airplanes have “ears.”  Workers in these places may share information they overhear or see with government officials.
  5. Consider that all communication is being heard or read by others. Speak by phone as if you are not in a private conversation.  Letters, emails, texts, etc. are very public.  If names are used, only use first names and never first and last names.
  6. Never give the impression of being critical of local governments or religions. As an American, you will likely be viewed with suspicion in many of the places you travel to, so do not say anything negative about governments or religions that will hinder your witness.
  7. Avoid visiting with other Christians or missionaries while on your trip. Unless requested by the IMB staff or local partners, contact with other believers in security-sensitive areas should be guarded.
  8. Refuse to be photographed or interviewed by news media. Common sense must be used in these cases.  You have no control how videos and pictures will be used by others to potentially harm the work of Christ.
  9. Always follow the leading of your host missionary and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. As a new person in a new place that is security-sensitive, listen and follow the directions of your host.  Their directions for the team are not meant to hinder ministry, but to enhance long-term ministry.  Further, as the Holy Spirit opens opportunities for gospel conversations, but sensitive to your situation and surrounding and tell others about the good news of Jesus. 

Being security sensitive is not for the purpose of stifling gospel work, but to ensure that it continues long after your short-term team is gone.  The goal in short-term missions is coming alongside long-term partners in order to advance the gospel intentionally and/or exponentially that would not occur otherwise.

Short-term Mission Team Timeline

They say time is of the essence.  No time like the present, others say.  Planning your short-term mission takes preparation; it takes time.  While there may be occasions when a mission effort can be pulled together quickly, most often the preparation requires many months. No rigid timeline exists for short-term missions, but there are some general steps that allow a team to prepare well in advance in order to maximize the impact of the team with the strategy of the host missionary.  Here is a suggested timeline that can be used as a guide:

  1. 10 to 12 months prior—determine assignment
  2. 9 months prior—determine team leader(s)
  3. 9 months prior—publicize mission effort
  4. 6 to 9 months prior—recruit team/receive volunteers, deposit due
  5. 6 to 9 months prior—contact travel agent to begin searching ticket prices
  6. 6 to 9 months prior—schedule initial info meeting, collect bi-monthly or quarterly payments
  7. 6 months prior—apply for passport and check requirement for visas
  8. 6 months prior—plan team meetings and meet monthly to discuss general mission prep
  9. 3 to 4 months prior—purchase plane tickets
  10. 3 to 4 months prior—get immunizations (shots!) if necessary
  11. 3 to 4 months prior—team meetings should become more specialized according to what the team will be doing on the field
  12. 2 months prior—develop prayer team
  13. 4 weeks prior—plan commissioning service for team
  14. 1 week prior—hold commission service
  15. 1 week or month after—plan celebration time with team and/or church

Preparing well allows us to go with a plan and then once there to go with the flow.  We trust that God uses our planning, but we also go knowing that the Lord will direct our steps and guide our ways for gospel advancement.

Short-term missions and team devotions

Short-term missions is strategic for making disciples not only globally, but locally within of our own congregations.  Using short-term mission efforts for disciple-making among our own church members is one slice of the disciple-making pie.

No need to reinvent the wheel here.  Ample resources are available for mission teams to use for team devotions.  Teams might select a book of the Bible or a portion of Scripture to work through prior to departure as well as while on the mission field.  Questions related to the passage can be developed that generate team discussions when meeting together before and during the mission effort.

Teams might also select short, but pertinent books on specific topics to read prior to departure and to discuss while on the field.  Suggested topics include:

  • Evangelism
  • Missions
  • Church Membership
  • Theology (a specific doctrine or a summary of multiple doctrines—e.g. BF&M 2000)
  • Biographies of missionaries or Christian leaders
  • Selected sermons (manuscripts that can be read as well as listened to)
  • Spiritual disciplines (Christian growth)
  • Church health/revitalization
  • Church planting

If using a book study, prepare some questions related to each chapter or section of the book you plan to discuss.  Use mornings or evenings with the team to not only review the upcoming day or debrief the day, but to discuss the topic for intentional discipleship time.

The point in team devotions is to maximize the concentrated time with the team for Jesus’ model of Mark 3:14—being with and sending out.  Mark gives us the reason for Jesus choosing the twelve (apostles).  He spent time with them and sent them out to share the good news.  Jesus is modeling what it looks like to make disciples—it’s time together and it’s time serving.  In fact, Matthew gives us a similar paradigm for discipleship.  Jesus mentored (taught) (Matthew 5-7); modeled (served with) (Matthew 8-9); and multiplied (sent them out) (Matthew 10).

Short-term missions allows churches to build disciples in a similar way that Jesus and Paul modeled it for us.  We can mentor, model, and multiply our church members in a concentrated way unlike at other times throughout the year.  Capitalizing on your time with the team for teaching and serving is invaluable and will often transform the way they engage the church and others once back home.

 

Enlisting Short-term Mission Teams

Jesus’s command to makes disciples of all nations is for all believers (Matt 28:19).  While we want every Christian to be a disciple-maker, not everyone in the local church will necessarily leave their home for gospel mission (Acts 13:1-3).  Some go; the rest send.  Some go long-term; others can go short-term.  Short-term mission teams can be a valuable asset to assist those making disciples in far places.  Enlisting proper short-term team members is an essential part of ensuring we have an effective and faithful long-term mission impact.  Here are some suggestions for enlisting your short-term mission team.

  • Communicate clearly to the church the mission. Pastors play a key role in communicating and giving “stage time” to the mission that the church will engage in.  Use as many (creative) communication platforms as necessary to inform the church of the upcoming mission opportunity.
  • Work closely with the pastor(s) in the process of recruiting or approving team members. As the shepherds of the church, pastors need to be involved in the decision process of those who participate in the mission effort.
  • Plan an informational meeting. Those who express interest need to know key details (as much as possible) in finalizing their decision. Schedule an informational group meeting with interested persons. Cover such details as:
    1. Location
    2. Purpose of the mission (as it aligns with the strategy of the host missionaries)
    3. Cost (travel, food, lodging, ministry expenses, travel insurance)
    4. Accommodations (lodging, travel, food, etc.)
    5. Expectations of team members (health abilities, type of work, behavior, etc.)
    6. Q&A time
  • Schedule interviews and/or an application process. Whether through an interview with those interested or by filling out an application, this step is important in making sure that those desiring to go are a right fit for the mission effort.  Issues covered in the interview and/or application include:
    1. Personal conversion story.
    2. Description of personal growth (e.g., prayer, Bible reading, church involvement, personal witnessing).
    3. Explanation of why the individual desires to go on this mission effort.
    4. Look for team players. There are no lone rangers in missions.
    5. Gain a feel for the personality of the person and ability to relate well with others.
    6. Willingness to be flexible and serve as needed.
    7. Physical and emotional stability.
  • Inform each interested person of the decision. In many cases, the answer for an interested mission team member will be “yes, welcome to the team.”  On occasion, the team leader, pastors and other decision makers will have to inform interested persons that the answer is “wait”.

Short-term teams provide valuable help to long-term missionaries when those teams are carefully selected and properly trained.  While not every Christian will be called to live far from “home,” every Christian is called to make disciples of all nations.  One way to faithfully live out this disciple-making call is by being part of carefully selected short-term mission teams.

Disciple-making and Short-term Missions

As the eleven apostles wait on the Mountain in Galilee for Jesus, they are filled with mixed emotions.  No doubt they wonder, “What will Jesus say and what will we do next?”  When Jesus appears to the them, the heart of His message is “make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19).

Short-term missions is for the purpose of making disciples, not just somewhere else, but among our own church members.  Pastors and church leaders should view short-term missions as a two-point prong—making disciples locally and globally.  We go elsewhere to assist missionaries in their work of making disciples in other places, but we also understand short-term missions as a vital part of making disciples of our own church members.

There is something incredibly valuable about pouring into our own church members while they are away from normal routines and distractions.  Don’t miss this opportunity through short-term missions to have long-term discipling impact on your church members.

Here are some suggestions for discipling your short-term mission teams.

  • Encourage team members to enlist prayer partners. These partners can be within the church, family members, or other believers outside of the church.  Lead them to give weekly or monthly prayer matters leading up to the time of the mission effort.  For the time of the mission effort have your team members give a daily prayer point guide to their prayer partners before they leave.  Also, encourage team members to have at least one prayer partner that prays with them each week leading up to the mission effort. They can pray through facetime, in person, over the phone, etc.
  • Develop personal time in God’s Word and prayer. Nothing prepares the team member more for missions than his/her personal time with God.  Several months before the mission effort, teams can be encouraged to read through certain passages or books of the Bible.  For example, reading through Acts prior to and during the mission effort is a great way to prepare the team spiritually for what they are about to do.  Providing specific prayer guides for the team member’s own spiritual preparation is essential as well.  This might be the first time these team members develop an intentional personal time in God’s Word and prayer.
  • Teach them how to share the gospel. Missions is not missions if the gospel is missing.  There are many tools that can be used to teach teams how to share the gospel.  The point is not one particular method as much as making sure each team member can articulate the gospel concisely and clearly.  Spending time with the team not only teaching them how to share the gospel but giving them opportunities to practice on one another and even in the community before the team leaves is critical.  The goal is not teaching them to be an expert in winning arguments, but simply telling the “old, old” story of Jesus and His love.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation, not our presentation or method (Rom 1:16).  Share the gospel and trust God to do His work!
  • Utilize your time on the field for discipleship. While on the mission effort, being intentional about pouring into the team members is essential.  Taking them through a study in the Bible (like Acts) or a book is a great way to have deliberate discipleship time while on mission (there are a number of short, but impactful books that could be used for this purpose).  Either in the morning before the team leaves out for the day or in the evening when you settle down from the day, walking the team through a planned study time is a valuable way to point the team to God’s Word and apply both the Word and their daily mission experiences to their Christian life. Amazingly, God often uses His Word and the experiences of the team while on mission to grow them exponentially.  Take advantage of that time for team discipleship.
  • Don’t forget when you get back home.  Pray for new habits and convictions that begin to form while on the mission effort to remain once you are home.  Team members often ask themselves and their churches, “now what?” when they return home.  The experiences are often overwhelming and can cause frustration when others back home don’t quite see things in the same way as the team members upon their return.  Learning to leverage one’s experience for personal growth and influence of others is a delicate but important step.  Here are some “when you get back home” suggestions:

1. Remain active with your prayer partner(s). Continue praying with and meeting with others for accountability and encouragement.

2. Stay deep in God’s Word. The habits of personal Bible-intake you begin to form on mission will be life transforming if you stay with them.  Be consistent in your personal Bible time.

3. Don’t overreact by selling everything you own (just yet) nor see everyone else as less spiritual than you. Meditate often on Philippians 4:10-14 about finding contentment in whatever situation the Lord brings your way.  Further, the temptation you will face is one of being judgmental to those who didn’t go, haven’t gone, or refuse to go.  Steady wins the race.

4. Don’t waste your mission effort. It’s easy to merge back into the traffic of life and forget what you experienced through God’s Word and His work. Find one way you can continue serving the gospel in your own community.  How are you living on mission where God has planted you?

5. Remember, the goal is make disciples (locally and globally) (Matt 28:19-20). While the experience of disciple-making globally is thrilling, whom would God have you pour your life into for long-term impact where you live?  You can begin with the study you went through on the mission effort by sharing it with someone else for discipling purposes. Meet monthly or weekly to discuss what you learned with someone else.  In other words, make disciples here and there.

Short-term missions done poorly and done well

While in a hotel overlooking a European city, our vision team recapped the experiences we had over the previous days as we met with various missionaries and visited several European countries.  Our goal was to find ways that we could connect our local churches from the state conventions we represented to mission partnerships in Europe.  As we listened to one another share, one state convention leader remarked, “Money alone is not the answer.  We need boots on the ground.”

He is right.  While the Cooperative Program is an enormous tool for gospel advancement, money alone is not the answer.  Yes, we need long-term missionaries.  But we also need local church short-term teams partnering with missionaries for long-term impact.  Boots on the ground involves not only our long-term missionaries, but short-term teams doing missions well.  Here are ways missions is done poorly and done well expressed with opposite key statements.

  • Go in order to see “new places” / Go in order to see God do a “new work”. If we go in order to see new places, then we go for the wrong reasons.  Comparing stamps in our passports is not our goal.  Don’t misunderstand me, seeing new places is always exciting; but our aim is not simply for the thrill of the adventure or to travel the world.  We go believing that God is at work and we desire to see Him do a “new work” in the lives of those we are serving with and among. So, go expecting God to do something new in you, your team, and those who you intend to serve.
  • Go without a plan and be rigid / Go with a plan and then go with the flow. “Winging it” is not the best approach to maximizing our impact and effectiveness.  Sometimes we spiritualize our lack of planning as trying to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading.  To further complicate our unpreparedness, teams or individuals are reluctant to bend as schedules change.  Or worse, they bemoan how things are different than “back home” and how they wouldn’t “do it that way.”  On the other hand, our preparedness for what we plan to do and where we are going does not minimize the Spirit’s leading; it maximizes it.  We must prepare our teams well and then be prepared to go with the flow as circumstances change.  Being flexible with a spirit of willingness is critical for the Spirit to work in and through short-term teams.
  • Forget that a spiritual battle is underway / Recognize that a spiritual battle is before us. In the moment of experiencing new places and new people, we can easily forget that the challenges of the mission field—that often are dismissed as culture shock or personality conflicts, are directly tied to an unseen battle. Paul reminds us that we wrestle not with flesh and blood (cranky short-term team members or unfamiliar cultural customs), but against Satan and his dark forces (Eph 6:12).  Short-term teams need sensitivity to the fact that the spiritual reality that we may not perceive is much greater than the tangible reality around us.  A battle wages and we do not fight it with conventional weapons, but with the armor the Lord supplies (Eph 6:10-20).
  • Neglect to prepare your team / Be intentional about team preparation. Similar to going without a plan, teams that fail to prepare will prepare to fail.  On the other hand, teams that are intentional about their preparation will be an asset to the strategy of the field missionaries.  Basic preparation is necessary for maximizing the team’s impact with the work of the missionaries.
  • Set your own agenda / Develop a strategy with the missionaries. While many short-term teams mean well, they can often be a burden to missionaries.  The burden might stem from a lack of adaptability in their new (short-term) environment or it might involve an unwillingness to listen the counsel of the missionaries on best practices.  Often, the burden revolves around short-term teams setting their own agenda over against the desires and/or counsel of the host missionaries. Short-term teams that have the most gospel impact are those which submit to the leadership of the host missionaries in planning the purpose of the team. Think about it.  It only makes sense that those who have immersed themselves in the culture by living among the people and learning the language and way of life are the ones who know best what strategy will be most effective in advancing the gospel in a particular area.  Short-term missions done well involves teams that develop strategies with the host missionaries. This collaboration results in advancing the gospel in way that could not be done with the long-term missionaries only or at least be done at the concentrated pace that a short-term team provides.