Three Critical Elements of a Great Short-Term Trip

United World Mission can help infuse critical elements into your short-term trip to make it a success. You may be wondering how a mission agency can help your church improve your outcomes? Below are three critical elements you need to consider…

  1. The Long Game: Everyone knows that a short-term trip can have some immediate impact in the context and location; however, before you even plan a trip take time to consider the long game. Playing the long game means to simply consider how actions will be felt for years to come.

A church once asked me to help them plan a short-term trip. I asked them why, and they responded that this is something the church had been doing for a long time with mediocre results and that they wanted help to improve. My first response was to have them address if short-term trips are part of a strategy to create long-term disciples or if the trips were simply a response to a need in another nation.

Let’s face it, we all know short-term trips can enhance or detract what is taking place in the target nation. However, if we see short-term trips as an integral part of making a disciple who will go on to serve in our churches, then our approach may be very different. We can leverage this experience into a developmental opportunity for each participant. Leaders are made when people are trained, equipped, and tested in the context of experience.

United World Mission can help your church reconfigure your approach to these opportunities.

  1. Relationship, Relationship, Relationship: We know relationships create results. This is why church leaders encourage their people to take time to know their neighbors, colleagues, and those they interact with on a daily basis. It should also be the same for those in the target country where we are sending teams. Multiple trips to the same place, nearby locations, or with the same group tackling new initiatives creates a greater, long-term impact by building trust, accountability, and friendship.

We serve in nearly 50 nations, and we know partners who are capable of leveraging short-term contributions into long-term gains. In life there is a saying, “friends do business with friends”. This is true because of the trust that is established by repeated interactions. But these “friends” are selected based upon reliability, credibility, and common values.

United World Mission can help your church assess potential partners to work with by providing great questions that will set trip criteria, advise in the partner selection, and determine realistic outcomes, which will result in a high percentage of success for all involved.

  1. Redefining the Sizzle: What are true ministry results? Many think the true ministry is what we do and what we accomplish; however, I would like to provide some food for thought about redefining the endgame.

Let’s face it, because the participants don’t know language, we are limited as to the type of work we can do. That’s why most trips are focused on relief, building, or some type of physical improvement in the target nation. So we define our success by what we do. As I said, I want to push back on this as we consider the first two thoughts I discussed above. Yes, what we do IS important; however, with whom we do it is more important. The national leaders and believers, with whom we will be interacting and who will follow through where we leave off, should carry a higher level of importance.

Our love, concern, and investment into the lives of those with whom we will serve alongside will either encourage further work, increase commitment, or will leave local leaders and believers more confused or even cynical about what just happened. One of the major considerations of our time in the target nation is how we will leave those who we serve alongside. This can make or break opportunities for follow up and community impact.

United World Mission can provide great thought, discussion, planning, briefings, debriefings, and other resources to make your short-term trip even more successful. We stand ready to jump in and help.

By: Mark Szymanski, Director of Partnership and Mobilization