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Debriefing: #8 – Why debriefing is so important

Without a good debriefing, you’ve missed the point of a mission project. Debriefing connects the dots for participants, helping them to see what God is doing. Debriefing takes a mission trip out of the realm of spectator sport and makes life-change possible. It can take a young person who has …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Without a good debriefing, you’ve missed the point of a
mission project. Debriefing connects the
dots for participants, helping them to see what God is doing. Debriefing takes a mission trip out of the
realm of spectator sport and makes life-change possible. It can take a young person who has been
self-absorbed and distracted and click on spiritual lights, helping them focus
on God’s agenda for their life.

So often you hear the comment, “I didn’t realize how much I
had and how much I take for granted. The
people we came to help had so little, but they were so content.” A debrief takes that observation and
translates it to action, frequently resulting in this kind of life-change
resolution: “Actually, I realize that I’m
kind of spoiled. I’ve decided I’m going
to stop complaining and be more grateful.
I’m going to tell my parents what I’ve decided so that they have
permission to remind me.”

The participant who develops a relationship with an orphan
who is happy in spite of her poverty needs help in re-examining their
priorities. They need to move from
amazement to an understanding that their own life is too complicated and
self-focused. They need to move from the
posture of a consumer to that of a giver, and maybe to a minister of
reconciliation. They are generally not
going to make difficult resolutions without some help.

And a good debriefer realizes that this help does not
usually come in the form of teaching. Experience
has already done the teaching. Rather,
the primary tools of a debriefer are questions, silence, and a journal.

Next blog: How debriefs sharpen spiritual insight

Comments (3)

  • Why don’t we debrief college students periodically? Should we conduct periodic debriefing for children?
    When should the Body of Christ debrief members?

  • Once again, Seth, the right word at the right time. I just started reading this series today, and last night a friend of ours came back from a counter-trafficking mission trip to Bangkok. I shared it with her already, and we (my pastor-wife and I; This is one of her sem classmates.) are ready to listen when she needs it. Thanks for the good words!

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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