Stay the Course!
"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:58
There are over one million people participating in short-term missions (STM) annually who, when they return, are not being provided the training and resources to take what they have learned and apply it back home in their local community. Most do not have access to training, planning resources and relevant partner ministries to help with the follow-through process. A lot of resources (time and money) are consumed in sending out large numbers of people while the long-term impact is minimalized due to lack of strategy for the return home.
The Next Mile is a collaborative effort of mission agencies and organizations joining together to address the "black hole" of short-term missions with resources for effective follow-through. This ministry is spearheaded by DELTA Ministries and currently offers tools including curriculum, conferences, website, mission coaches and resource recommendations.
Short-term missions has the reputation of being just another mountain-top experience. But, it doesn't have to be that way! Proper post-ministry follow-through, including time with mentors and leaders, a little ingenuity, and a lot of commitment will help set the course for continued growth rather than just a spiritual high.
Post-field follow-through meetings will provide a platform for the team to finish what it started and to keep the flame of missions alive. At a minimum we recommend three post-field meetings as well as future get-togethers and outreach.
Post-ministry discipleship will include the five areas highlighted below but cannot be done alone. We recommend that each short-termer find a mentor at the beginning stages of a short-term mission. These mentors can work together with church and pastoral leadership to ensure the steps below are carried out for each team member. DELTA’s free STM Starter Kit offers more resources for follow-through or you can purchase The Next Mile Leader Kit which is a more comprehensive resource and provides a simple and easy to use Mentor Guide for your teams.
This is a time to share pictures and video, answer questions, process the ministry, to look ahead and to take a special look at helping spouses and children with the re-entry process. Each short-term mission is unique. Culture, personality, team size, leadership, and length of ministry are just a few factors affecting each experience. Despite the incredible variety, it's surprising how many of the feelings and events of returning home can be alike for every short-termer. Short-termers of all ages have revealed a myriad of issues that have to be processed during re-entry. The lessons learned on the STHm must continue to influence behavior and attitudes at home – that is when short-term missions can have long-term impact and DELTA’s trained Short-Term Mission Coaches are ready to help lead your team through the journey of coming home and engaging in life with a renewed commitment to missional living.Through an interactive polling process, it was possible to rank many topics and come up with "The Top 10" with resources about each topic. Learn more at www.thenextmile.org.
Continue the debriefing process while planning a reporting strategy and service.
Look specifically at the future impact and results of the short-term mission and encouraging people in their commitments.
Evaluations and Goal Setting
With evaluations and goals, you can customize the level of follow-through for each of your short-termers.
The team and individuals should continue to serve locally by plugging into existing church ministries or by developing new ministries together. We’ve provided some post-ministry ideas in what we call 20 Mile Markers.
20 Mile Markers
The Next Mile curriculum offers comprehensive follow-through tools for your short-term mission team. Learn more at www.thenextmile.org