Showing and Telling the Gospel of Jesus’ love and life through Short-term Mission Trips beyond Georgia.

By Rev. Gerald Demarest, Guyton Christian Church

Each local congregation exists to facilitate each member’s charge to be fulfilling the Great Commission as they are growing in doing the Great Commandment. To the extent that a Christian is progressively loving the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and their neighbor as themselves. Likewise, a person cannot help but be revitalized in their own Christian walk as they are involved in sharing the faith with others.

The denominational vision of congregational vitality also comes to fruition when the gospel is shared “from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth”. The dynamics needed to revitalize local congregations in supporting new church starts are consistent with those that take place when a congregation focuses energy and resources to ministry beyond themselves and their own setting through short-term mission trips.

A by-product of involvement in short-term mission trips is the eventual growth of the local congregation. When persons seeking an active congregation discover a church that has been involved in mission work, the person will realize the church is probably healthy and are drawn by that evangelistic beacon to join in God’s work in the world through that church. The impact on the persons who make up the ambassadors of the sending congregation is also life changing. Team members often come back and demonstrate residual fervor in local congregational ministries. The people on the team who helped to send or equip the ambassadors hear encouraging reports that help them, the senders, realize they are vitally involved in reaching others with God’s love.

How to go about doing short-term mission trip? Our opportunity to join in with what God is doing God’s world is to set the sails and expect the wind of the Spirit to pull us in the direction and with the energy needed to accomplish the journey. The role of the church leader is to cast the vision so the people can catch the vision of what could be. Being sensitive to God is not only the key, but is the fun of being in relationship with a dynamic personal God on the journey with us, without whom the ministry could not be done anyway.

What should be the mission behind the trip? Once God has willing vessels to work through, God can show and direct specific ministries based on the needs (obvious and otherwise) among the people and giftings (both natural and supernatural) within the ministry ambassador team and sending churches. What comes your way, what are the networks that emerge that facilitate a mission opportunity, and noticing how God could kneed together opportunities and possibilities is a good approach to discerning a specific mission that becomes the core of an outreach.

When to be involved in a short-term mission trip? God works in the church and in people’s lives seasonally. “To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven,” says Ecclesiastes, so perceiving those seasons is part of the process. Being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit while projecting plans for ministry is the ongoing dynamic of discovering when to engage in an outreach.

Where do we do short-term mission trips? The answer is somewhere beyond where you live, i.e. Georgia. “To the uttermost parts of the earth” look different to a person based on where they live to begin with. Two keys to consider in the process are to be aware of opportunities past and present, and to recognize a God-given burden of a particular people group or location. The Disciples of Christ have several opportunities for short-term mission trips that can be discovered on the General church web page. A region-wide mission trip led by a Guyton Christian Church team during the summer of 2005 is a growing possibility.

Who is on a short-term mission team? Those who God raises up and who will respond to be on a team are on a mission outreach. Many make an outreach possible by under girding the few who serve as the hands and feet on their behalf. The finger that touches someone moves because of a long string of muscles up the arm that makes the action possible. Both the finger and the muscles are changed by the mutually beneficial experience of love between those from here and those to whom they are sent.

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