Physically being with other believers leads to encouragement that’s necessary for us to persevere to the final day. Given your missionaries can’t regularly gather with your church, why not choose to send some of your most encouraging members to spur them on? It could be just what your missionaries need in order to endure.
What does your church aim for in its short-term mission trips? Maybe you try to find one or two projects you can accomplish with a small team and focused effort. Maybe you shoot for evangelism—meeting as many unbelievers as possible in a short period and in a unique place. Or maybe you spend the whole time looking for an experience—a personal encounter, a story, or a picture—to stir up the rest of the church back home.
One kind of trip I think most churches should prioritize may not accomplish any of those goals. It’s something your missionaries may not ask for. It may not even get people back home excited. In fact, it could mean spending resources and time on a trip where you can’t bring many others along—if any at all.
Less exciting, less interesting, and less people. I can imagine you’re anxious to learn what kind of amazing mission trip I’m selling here. In short, I’m suggesting churches should consider taking mission trips where the sole purpose is to encourage missionaries.
Faithful missionaries work hard in hard places. At least one reason you should want to go on a trip, I presume, is to encourage them. Who among us would ever say, “No thanks, I’m not interested in encouraging missionaries”? Yet the reality is, when you bring a group from your church, this aim most often falls to the side. Missionaries can be the collateral damage of such mission trips.
I live in a city that has its fair share of short-term trips. Let me tell you what your missionaries may not be willing to: even the best mission trips are exhausting.
When you bring a group of people who don’t speak the local language, don’t know anyone other than one or two families, and may have never taken public transportation before, it requires a certain level of preparation and hand-holding from your missionaries. And many of your missionaries feel the weight of being good hosts more than you may realize.
That’s not to say those trips with grand goals are bad. But there’s a cost to them.