17 January 2008

Top 5 Short-Term Mission Ideas for 2008

Now I’ve already written some about STM’s but before the flood of spring break missionaries and summer break short-term visitors come I wanted to give me TOP 5 short-term trip ideas for 2008…

5) A Teenage Poverty Tour

Poverty tours are big business but usually completely offensive to the locals and the full-time social workers and missionaries working in the slums. Westerners love to go slumming as they ride in their air-conditioned buses through the village taking photos with cameras that cost more than the net worth of the entire village. Many African resorts even market these as “village safaris.” They get out… play with a few kids and snap a few photos… then quickly reach for hand sanitizer and a malaria tablet as they hop right back in the bus…

My idea is to do a poverty home stay with a group of teenagers… split them up in groups of 2-3 and have them live with a native family for a week or 2 weeks, working in the fields, filling jerry cans of water at the local watering hole and eating beans and rice every day… as a youth pastor many parents talked about how spoiled their kids were and didn’t know how to get them to appreciate what they have…so here is their chance to do something about it… call it a worldview trip or market it as Survivor Uganda… which half the visiting groups do anyways on the shirts they make for a 10 day trip!

It can easily be set-up... just contact a church you support in the third world and send the students out with families from the church...

4) A Tax Write-off Tour

Gather together anyone in the church or community who needs to write off $20,000 or more (or whatever dollar amount you chose) over the next year for themselves or their business… find 4-10 projects in close proximity that can all be visited over a 5-7 day time frame… whatever catches their attention gets to collect their cash… far too many people write off huge amounts of money to missionaries and projects they know hardly anything about… for all you know the missionary can be day dreaming about his blog all day and making up stats for his project as well… ahhh… how about idea #3…

3) The Ambassador Tour

Gather together the cheerleaders, activists, and people who can’t keep their mouths shut for a second and take them to your favorite projects in need of help… but don’t let them do any work on the project they visit…

Instead… have them gather information, ask millions of questions, take pictures, make videos and them develop a marketing strategy for the project you want to support… then send them home and let them do what they do best… let them speak to the church about the needs of the project, send them to other churches and individual who are interested or might get interested in supporting the project… Let those with the gift of gab use their skills for the projects and missionaries with no voice… or for those with very boring voices and outdated slideshows…

2) The Do Nothing and A Little of Everything Tour

How would you feel if someone came to your workplace and said they wanted to revolutionize your business in 5 days then leave and never return… would this be the most effective way to accomplish your vision, mission or purpose? Even closer to home… could someone come to your church and revolutionize it in 5 days and then never return… unless you name has a J – E – S – U & S in it its highly unlikely…

When people come to your workplace or church want do you want to do with them? …tell them about your projects history and future… maybe even teach them a thing or too… if they are an expert in the field you want to pick their brain or even have them evaluate your work… if they have some helpful skills have them lend a hand…

Far too many groups come with completely unrealistic goals and completely inflexible schedules… loosen up and try to image what you would want if someone were offering to help you…

1) Orphan “staff” Trip

Go to an orphanage for the sole purpose of helping the staff… offer to take over everything and sponsor them on a staff retreat or at least go down to bare-bones staff and give them a few days off… ask about what supplies or training materials you could bring for the staff members… put together sponsorship packets for the staff to help the orphanage pay for their salaries… send someone with child development skills over for a few months to train the staff on child development, child discipline and other areas where they are lacking training…

Leave the candy, toys and VBS material at home and see what you can do to help the staff have a long-term ministry to those children you sponsor and love so dearly…

So enjoy your trip this next year... and if your coming to Uganda and making shirts... I wear a Large...

4 comments:

John said...

Jeff, I was reading in EMQ (evangelical missions quarterly) that this generation is the most traveled generation ever and has had more short-term missions experience than any other.
Their profile suggests that they are more immature than other generations in that they have not yet realized what God has prepared for them to do and to be. They struggle with handling their prosperity. They are highly dependent upon those close friends around them, they delay in making major life decisions(extended adolescence), they are internet savvy and they have seen it or done it(virtually)increasingly more females are responding than males to go and do something in missions. (EMQ July 2007 Profile of Students Today pp327-333). You are preaching about what kind of missions experiences are worthy. When in fact, the majority of experiences become a personal journey like Gulliver and his travels. He sees things only from his point of view and tries to make sense from his past experiences.
I think the greatest lesson is to be still and let God speak. If short-termers did that and then reflected upon the next question. So God, what do you now want from me???? then you will see the greatest impact.
Let's pray that the following does not occur--- as soon as the plane lands the cell phone goes off and its time to meet at Starbucks for a latte.

Anonymous said...

Hey Stranger! this is Alyssa...the girl who dated David Stover in High School...We have been talking about you recently and I just stumbled upon this blog of yours! David and I are married...and we have three children. My two from a previous marraige and we have a baby boy born in June...you seem to be having an exciting life!

Jeff said...

No way... I tried googling David a few months back but there must be a million people with the name David Stover... send me your email or webpage - jatherstone@gmail.com

Jeff said...
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