Missions Catalyst 06.24.09 – Resource Reviews

In This Issue: Debriefing, North Africa DVD, Missionary Care, and More

  • ARTICLE – Sorting It Out: Simple Questions for Debriefing Short-termers
  • ARTICLE – In Our DNA: All People Groups Can Be Bearers of the Gospel
  • DVD – New Video Series from Harvest North Africa
  • EVENTS – Missionary Care Retreats

Missions Catalyst is a free, weekly electronic missions digest designed to inspire and equip Christians worldwide for global ministry. Please use this for your prayers, pass along what you learn to others, and forward this edition to anyone you think might be interested!

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Sorting It Out: Simple Questions for Debriefing Short-termers

Source: Marti Smith, managing editor

As a mission mobilizer I’m both pleased and a bit worried at what Steve Moore calls “the punkification of missions.” You know: here’s a chord, here’s another chord, now form a band! Or here’s an idea, here’s an opportunity, form your own mission team. It seems like everybody’s doing it. But why should everyone have to come up with their own plans and processes? Let’s pool our wisdom and point out some best practices.

The more I think about it, it the more I see the value of keeping such things simple and easy to pass on to others. Maybe those who have been doing this sort of thing a little longer should just try to share the chords they’ve learned along the way.


When it comes to short-term mission trips, one essential chord is debriefing. The debriefing process is often skipped, slighted, or squeezed. Even teams that meet weekly for months before the trip may confine debriefing to a Saturday morning with donuts, but no follow-up or accountability. It doesn’t have to be that way.

The follow-up and accountability part is hard. Worthy, just hard. But doing the debriefing sessions? Anyone who is willing to listen can help debrief a short-termer or short-term team.

Asking the Basic Questions:

If you have just one debriefing session, try this. On paper or in person, in a big group or one on one, ask your short-termers 3-6 basic questions:

– How was your trip?
– What was the best thing about it?
– What was the hardest part for you?
– What did God teach you?
– What are you going to do about it, and when?
– Share an answered prayer.

Taking the time to think through these questions and topics will help short-termers process what happened. Plus, they will be better able to give a meaningful answer when others ask the same questions. It pays to be prepared. A good goal: be able to effectively describe the experience in a sentence or two.

Going Deeper:

Add a few more sessions to your debriefing plan if you can, especially if you’re debriefing a whole team. Here are a few ideas:

1. Remembering What God Has Done

Have each team member spend 20 minutes journaling:

“What have you seen God do for you on this trip? Think about the miracles, answers to prayer, and the ways God worked above and beyond your expectations. Don’t forget how he got you here, prepared you, and brought in your support.”

Ask team members to share their answers with the group so everyone can thank and glorify God for what he has done. For a longer debriefing, I like to do this session first. It gets us started with our eyes on God.

2. Working through the Hard Stuff

Many troubling things can come to the surface on a short-term mission trip. Short-termers may come face to face with their own weaknesses and failures. They may feel disappointed or disillusioned about their team or their hosts. If you can’t deal with the hard topics during debriefing, they may never be addressed at all.

Try to provide a safe environment to discuss things that were difficult, especially if these struggles reinforce lies they may believe about themselves, the world, God, or other people. One-on-one “debriefing interviews,” conducted by someone who was not part of the team, can also help identify conflicts and relationship problems that still need resolution.

3. Locking in the Lessons

Use this handy worksheet to help short-termers identify and “lock in” the lessons they are learning and prepare to share them with others. It’s a simple, step-by-step process that any of us might find helpful for making sense of a potentially overwhelming experience. Rather than simply emphasizing how to tell your story in two minutes or less (though that may be a worthy goal), this lesson plan emphasizes identifying and describing the aha! moments and life-changing encounters. Those are the things your short-termers never want to forget.

4. Staying Connected

Chances are good that the ministry your short-termers were involved in did not begin and end with them. So take a long-term view and ask: “What are the ongoing needs and opportunities? How can you, your family, or your church continue to contribute or stay connected with this ministry?” If you spend time talking about next steps, make sure to include an invitation to stay connected with the field.


Other debriefing sessions might focus on the following:

– Reentry and reverse culture stress
– Team affirmation, prayer, and celebration
– Preparing a presentation and making a plan to mobilize others
– Evaluating the program
– Writing letters to their future selves (to be mailed out in six months)

>>  Shorttermmissions.com has several articles on debriefing, including Coming Home: Debriefing Exercises to Help You Process Re-entry Shock, by Lisa Espinelli Chinn.

>> The STEM International online store has a great collection of resources about every aspect of short-term missions, including training and debriefing materials.

NOTE: Thanks to Jen, Gretchen, David, Eric, and Mark for help with this article.

In Our DNA: All People Groups Can Be Bearers of the Gospel

Source: Howard Brant, Champion for New Initiatives in Missions, SIM

Note: This article first appeared in Issue 124 of Serving in Mission, the magazine of SIM International, and is used by permission.

After years of reflection both on the nature of mission and the New Testament Scriptures, I’ve come to understand that everything needed to develop mission sending capacity is already written into the DNA of every people group around the world. Just as God has prepared every people group to receive the gospel, God has also prepared every people group to take the gospel.

Whenever a new church is born within a people group, God gives them the Holy Spirit, as well as gifted individuals who will bring them to maturity.

If every people group has the capacity to take the gospel as well as receive it, that ought to challenge our thinking and affect our strategy. As missionaries go into new cultures, it lifts our hopes and expectations higher than ever before. We are encouraged to look within each culture group for the answers God has already placed within it. This approach ensures that the unique contribution that each one can bring to world missions is preserved and fanned into flame.

When a church in Ethiopia, Bolivia, or Mongolia realizes that they are a part of God’s plan to take the gospel to other nations, it revitalizes that church as well. If they really believe this truth, they will soon realize that they do not need to look to the outside to become a sending church.

>> Full story and additional articles on this theme.

DVD – New Video Series from Harvest North Africa

Source: Brigada Today, April 26, 2009

A DVD containing short (five- to seven-minute) prayer mobilization videos about each of the five nations of the North Africa Partnership (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania) is now available.

Each DVD contains English, French, and Spanish versions and is available in either NTSC or PAL for US$10.00 including shipping within North America, at a discount for bulk orders, or internationally at a slightly higher cost.

>> Order a copy or request more more information.

Editor’s note: As we mentioned a few months ago, a free collection of videos to help you mobilize prayer for the Arabian Peninsula countries is available on YouTube.

EVENTS – Missionary Care Retreats

Source: Missions Catalyst Events Calendar

September 13-25 – Missionary Retreat for Singles and Couples (Baden, Austria). Designed to strengthen Christian workers in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Hosted by Barnabas Zentrum, an Austrian charity. Three sessions now accepting applications: September 13-25, October 4-10, and November 1-13, 2009.

October 18-21 – Women of the Harvest Retreat (Cancun, Mexico). Retreat for U.S. and Canadian women who work cross-culturally in Mexico and Central America.

November 1-6 – Re:New Re:Connect (Bali, Indonesia). Retreat to provide healing and restoration for missionaries, especially those struggling. Hosted by Living Waters.

>> See the Missions Catalyst events calendar for more events.

Questions? Problems? Submissions? Contact publisher/managing editor Marti Smith.

6 thoughts on “Missions Catalyst 06.24.09 – Resource Reviews”

  1. Wow! I have been trying to figure out a strategic and effective way to communicate the need and how to of debriefing to our missions team for so long! Thank you for the resource!!!

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