Be ready for your trip: short-term missions training

Short-term mission trip
Photo courtesy of Joni Hudson

Teams in churches and Christian organizations all around the world are in the midst of mapping out their schedules for upcoming short-term mission trips. The first part of the training schedule usually focuses on preparing the “mission trippers” so that everyone is clear on the biblical mandate for missions. One aspect that is often overlooked is ensuring that the entire team is “on the same page” with regards to the Gospel. It’s risky to assume that every member of the team understands the Bible’s central message or in the same way. It makes sense for leaders to get all the team members to go through a “Gospel refresher” course so that everyone is clear on what they will be proclaiming on the field.

As part of the training schedule, consider putting aside 16 hours to take everyone through the Gospel. The “Worldview Rethink” curriculum was designed to allow busy leaders to simply pick up the Leader’s Guide and guide a group of people (each with a course book and workbook), step-by-step, story-by-story, through key Old Testament stories that lay the foundation for understanding the Gospel clearly.

Using a blend of dynamic reading, visual aids and DVD clips, team leaders can teach the Gospel chronologically. The “Worldview Rethink” course will help leaders check if there are gaps in team members’ understanding of the Gospel and ensure everyone will be sharing the same message. It will also draw the team closer together as well as deepen their appreciation for the life-giving work that Jesus enacted on the cross.

The second stage of this gospel training is to go through the Ambassador series of DVDs. The three are:

  • What’s in a Name? (60 mins)
  • Flying Truth in Formation (60 mins)
  • Unlocking the Biblical Worldview (4 sessions, each 40 mins)

Watching these videos together as a team and reading the accompanying book “And Beginning with Moses” will help everyone see how God had very carefully unfolded the gospel narrative and see how evangelism efforts can benefit greatly if we follow the same teaching pattern that we find in the Bible. Going through the Ambassador series will make each one more cognizant of the need to lay proper foundations and follow the architecture of the biblical narrative to clearly explain who Jesus is and what he has done for mankind. The team will come to appreciate that an understood Gospel is a powerful Gospel.

Proposed Training Schedule

1. Worldview Rethink Course. (16 hours)
Ideally, the course can be taught as a three-session workshop or as a three-day training camp. (It’s best not to stretch out the course over too many weeks.)

2. Ambassador Series. (5 sessions, about 90 minutes each)

  • Session 1: What’s in a Name?
  • Session 2: Flying Truth in Formation
  • Session 3: Unlocking the Biblical Worldview (Part 1 and 2)
  • Session 4: Unlocking the Biblical Worldview (Part 3 and 4)
  • Session 5: Discussion on And Beginning with Moses and wrap up
On the Field

Different short-term missions trips have different objectives: building projects, medical missions, teaching English, poverty relief, reconstruction and more. Naturally, sharing the gospel message is an overriding goal of any trip. But just how do you share? How do you begin to teach? What if the members of your team are volunteers and first-timers? How will they explain the Gospel to people who are not familiar with the Bible? And let’s not forget language barriers!

It sounds like a daunting task but there is help. In the same way that you’ve trained your mission trippers, they can teach the people out in the field.

Once your team has already gone through the Worldview Rethink curriculum, you can appoint course leaders (have at least three) who will do the teaching during the trip. These leaders can practise by taking turns reading aloud the text. They can also practise using the visual aids. (The visual aids are lightweight enough to be transported.) If you are going to rely on local translators to read aloud, then it would be good to send over copies of the “The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus” and have them read the book before the team arrives. (Check the list of translations to see if the language you need is available.)

Once on the ground, survey the teaching area early and make the necessary arrangements. Have a space in front for the visual aids and ensure the readers can be heard. If working with translators, let them know when you’ll want to use visual aids.

Finally, make sure you have sufficient teaching time (about 16 hours, more if working through translators). You might want to consider providing copies of the book for all expected participants.

In this way, the short-term mission trip can be an effective time for sharing a clear Gospel. It is really exciting to watch as the Lord gives understanding to the people who are being taught!

Resources