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:
- 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.