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Five Principles for Having Sustainable, Long-Term Impact on a Short-Term Trip

Five Principles for Having Sustainable, Long-Term Impact on a Short-Term Trip

There is no shortage of work in the call of the Great Commission, and God is using His Church all over the world in very unique ways. He has called ITEC into this work by challenging us to to explore what it would look like to train and empower the Indigenous Church. We have had the opportunity to work all over the world and continue to learn ways to improve. The following Five Principles are a few specific key ways we have found to have sustainable, long-term impacts on short-term mission trips.
  1. Learn to Listen
As a dominant culture, we tend to jump in and want to fix perceived problems without listening to the people we think we are helping. Oscar Muiru, in the Missions Dilemma series, said, "Stop coming to try to fix us. We've been fixed so many times that we're a real mess now." We need to spend time listening to the Indigenous Church in order to hear their perspective.
  1. Understand the Need
As we listen, seek to understand what the local people perceive as the needs within their immediate and surrounding communities. What we might see as a need will often not be an issue at all for the people. Teams often go and install Western-style toilets or paint a building without listening to the Indigenous Church to see what they feel are the real needs.
  1. Build on What They Have
People who live in places frequented by short-term teams have more resources than we realize and maybe even more than they themselves realize. Local Christ followers need to have ownership from the start, which requires investment. This may include time, financial resources, and other non-financial investments. Ownership will help eliminate the potential for dependency and will better ensure that the work will continue after the training team departs.
  1. Go and Train
There are people within your church who have skills and abilities that can be passed on to Indigenous Christ-followers. These skills (such as basic medical care or dental extractions) can be used by the Indigenous Church to open doors to the Gospel in their community, as well as in unreached areas. We should be asking ourselves what we are leaving behind when we go on short-term trips. Visit itecusa.org to find out more about the skills with which we train.
  1. Follow Up
Once our team has gone and trained Indigenous Christ followers, we need to take a step back and release them to do the work. Continue to build an interdependent relationship with those whom you have trained, and check in periodically to encourage them and to find out if further training is needed. These Five Principles have been a work in progress and are in no way exhaustive. However, the process of going through these principles will help you immensely in preparation for your next short-term trip. If you would like additional help in processing through these principles, please reach out to our team. We offer church consulting that we call Equip. You can learn more about that HERE.