How mission projects change lives
The validity of short-term missions stands or falls on its linkage to the spiritual growth that missions projects are supposed to produce in participants. Anecdotal evidence for such a linkage abounds. Too often, however, growth is taken as an article of faith.
5 Ways It Occurs
Spiritual growth on short-term mission projects occurs in many ways. Here are a few:
- It occurs as participants prepare for their mission project by engaging in spiritual disciplines.
- It occurs as they step out on faith into the unfamiliar territory of support-raising and ministering in a foreign culture. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”
A short-term mission experience provides the context in which faith can be built.
- It can give participants the opportunity to practice new ministry skills that they can continue to develop and use back home.
- It occurs as the sham of our society’s materialistic culture is exposed or as participants see what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.”
- Spiritual growth occurs when participants see their own meager offering of love returned a hundred-fold by those to whom they intended to minister.
5 Ways to Plan for It
- Design the project with your team members in mind. Don’t settle for just another work project. Ask participants to engage in those activities that stretch them spiritually. Sharing testimonies is a good place to start.
- Find occasions for team members to serve in a selfless way.
- Diversify your ministries on the project. Why not start a mime team? Put together a puppet team. Find creative ways to serve in anonymity.
- Share what God is doing in one another’s lives.
- Leaders should emphasize the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, service, and journaling from the outset. Monitor your group’s adherence to their spiritual disciplines.
Use your time of planning for your project wisely. It can be a good carrot to promote your discipleship agenda; after all, the team needs to be ready. Accountability to such spiritual disciplines becomes a natural part of the preparation process.