In This Issue: Don’t trip on your trip – avoiding common mistakes and missteps
- FEATURE: Don’t Trip on Your Trip
- SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Christmas Is Coming
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Four Keys to Avoiding Common Mistakes and Missteps
As a mobilizer with no small number of years behind me, my conviction remains strong that the best way to build a heart for the nations among your friends and family is to get them out among the nations. Should God give you the grace for it (and my guess is he has!), I hope you can take some people into a new culture in the coming year. And even to the sweet spot we’re aiming for, immersion among unreached peoples, whether in Arizona or Zanzibar.
My friend Jeremy, a mobilizer of great skill and perhaps even greater determination, will be taking some folks to India in 2013. He asked me recently, “Could you shoot me anything useful you have found to help me run my short-term trip more effectively?” I thought I’d share with you (and Jeremy) suggestions on avoiding some of the mistakes I know I’ve made myself.
T: Take the right people to the right place for the right reason(s).
If you’re at all like me (I’ll pray for you!), you want everyone to be as enthusiastic as you are about what you see God doing (and planning) around the world. A natural response to that is to throw your trip open to anyone with the three “P’s”: passport, pecunia, and pulse.
Remember God’s admonition to Samuel that he doesn’t judge as we do, but he sees the heart? Let me encourage you not to take just anyone. Think over the people at your church, pray over them, and ask God who might be primed for their next global step. Consider who might exercise helpful influence over others. Invite some newbies in whom you sense the capacity to lead teams in a couple of years.
Next, take your right people to the right place. This can be a paralyzing, tough call to make. Even though whole articles – books even – could be written on this one point, let me say only two things:
1. Keep your finger in the wind of the Spirit. What is God giving your church? Your denomination? Where’s he leading these people?
2. If your slate is clean, can I ask you from the bottom of my heart to aim for the least-reached places and peoples you can handle? If it’s your first trip, a self-guided tour of the kidnap-prone hinterlands of southern Algeria might not be smart, but go as far out as you can.
Now, take your right folks to the right place for the right reasons. Articulate clearly what you see this trip accomplishing for the people who go, for the people you go to, for the people who send you, and for the God to whom the whole system belongs. (If writing it down and emailing it to me will help you, go ahead.)
Forgive the militaristic language; it fits our acronym! But the point is this: If you want to lead a successful trip, you need to see the place and meet the people before you take your team there. Yes, it’s expensive, both in time and money. And yes, you can learn a lot online. Going twice might make it look like you’re padding your frequent flyer account. But you do not want to take your first steps out of an airport in India at the same time as your team, confessing to them that while no one in the crowd of thousands looks exactly like the picture your key contact faxed you, they all sort of do!
Patrick Roy – in my opinion the best goalie ever to play hockey – used to run through the upcoming game in his mind before joining his team on the ice. That’s a good model for us. Go to your place, visit the sites, try out the activities, eat with the people helping you. Go through the whole experience before going through the experience with your buds. This will honor them and help protect you from a lot of stress, ambiguity, and embarrassment.
My good friend, mentor, and hero Carol Davis says it this way: “Don’t try to hold your breath until you get home.” I love that! Rather than trying to simply get through a trip, help your team take it all in. Dive into the deep end.
This involves hanging with the people, not just the pastors. Listening to stories, not just telling your own. And adopting a posture that gets you invited over for dinner, then accepting the invitation.
Granted, discomfort will tend to increase with an increase in immersion. Since your goal is for your team neither to bug out early nor come home in a bag, keep your eye on the immersion variable. Push it, yes, but thoughtfully and with prayer.
To paraphrase Socrates, “An unexamined trip is not worth taking.” Because you’ll pay a lot of money to get your team to your destination and because, let’s face it, your destination will probably be really cool and totally fascinating, it will be easy to pack the days with wall-to-wall activity. You simply must set aside time for processing and debriefing.
I like to tithe the length of a trip to debrief. Parse out half of this time to near-daily personal processing and team check-ins, with the balance devoted to a wrap up at the end of the trip. If you don’t plan this from the outset and do it in your host city or en route home, it will most likely not happen. Check out The Next Mile for some debriefing content and tips.
» What else would you say to my friend Jeremy to help him with his upcoming trip? Please offer your wisdom and ideas (even if they don’t spell the word TRIP!). Go to our website to comment on this article or read more Practical Mobilization ideas.
SUBVERSIVE MOBILIZATION: Christmas Is Coming
Hey: good news. December is almost here, meaning it’s once again time for the annual Practical Mobilization Christmas Lists Edition, our effort here to “take back Christmas” for our own personal ends!
Somehow I think Baby Jesus would coo with delight to know that we’re trying to use the occasion of his birthday to advance his purposes on the planet. Like little mercenary Magis.
Here’s how you can help. We want your ideas for Christmas gifts that will (1) help people gain a vision for the world, and/or (2) bless the heart of a certified mission mobilizer.
Shane Bennett writes and speaks for a great organization called Frontiers. Lately he’s wondering about how Muslim immigrants in Europe might fully experience God’s blessing.
He’s also working with some buds to leverage a $49 a month smart phone plan to raise a ton of money for cross-cultural workers. Email him for info on the plan or the vision.