It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that “mission” is something done elsewhere, rather than in your own community or nation. Short-term overseas mission is no substitute for engaging locally. There are millions of people today from every religion, culture and nation to be found in almost every major city in the UK. Why not learn about “mission” with other local churches that are working among such people near you?
Consider how short-term overseas mission trips fit into your long-term local and global vision as a church. One example of this would be to have a particular focus on areas overseas linked with your own local cross-cultural ministry. If you want to reach your local Sikh community, why not also send a short-term team to work alongside national Christians and churches working amongst Sikhs overseas? Alternatively, consider short-term teams to serve alongside your long-term mission partners who already know the country, language and culture. Teams could be linked with the same sending mission agency or be made up of people simply wanting to see what mission is like in their part of the world. It’s also a great way to raise awareness and support for your mission partners within the sending church family.
Focus on partnership
As mission today is no longer “from the west to the rest” but is from everywhere to everywhere, we need to work hard at building mutually beneficial long-term partnerships of which short-term trips can form a part. Choose partners overseas that you can build relationship with, and who are connected with the local church and/or long-term workers. Above all, be prepared to learn about what it means to engage in ‘two-way partnership’ characterised by humility, mutuality and the expectation that both partners will give and receive.
Promote best practice
When preparing to send out teams, the Code of Best Practice in Short-Term Mission is an invaluable tool. Similarly, it’s a good idea to make sure that any sending agencies you are going through are signed up to the code themselves. Why not also send a copy to your partners overseas? Encourage them to make you accountable and to encourage other short-term teams they receive to work to the principles of the Code. The Code can be downloaded free from www.globalconnections.org.uk/guidelines/short-term-mission-code-of-best-practice