One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Elliot, “So many missionaries, intent on something forget that His main work is to make something of them.”
Missions can be more than a “trip” for your mission team if you seize the opportunity for discipleship. Training that takes place before the mission trip is an investment in members long after they come home from the “trip.” Through Go Now Missions, our ultimate goal is to grow up a generation of mission minded disciples of Christ. Our training consists of eight weeks of studies and scripture memory in an accountability group before they go.
Prepare to Share
“Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” I Thessalonians 2:8
The ultimate goal of any mission trip should be sharing the Gospel. Put if you do not train to that end, you can spend your time doing lots of good things, but never get to the good news. Teach all of your mission team a simple gospel presentation that fits the context in which you will serve. We ask all of our students to learn the Bridge Illustration and memorize the supporting scriptures. Along with learning a basic gospel presentation, have all of your team learn to share their own salvation story. Another important part of training is teaching how to ask good questions that can turn a conversation to spiritual matters. If you prepare to share, you will!
Prepare to Grow
“However, his pleasure is in the Lord’s instruction, so upon his instruction he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2
The spiritual disciples your group practices before they go will be the disciplines they will practice while serving. The motivation for being spiritually ready can be an open door for teaching some basic discipleship. We teach all of our students a simple, daily Bible study method that can be used personally, with their team or taught to new believers. Two keys are transferable and simple. Transferable, so that they are ready to teach it to someone else. Simple, meaning it only takes a Bible, a journal and a pen. Some that we have used are the S.O.A.P method and the Swedish Method. Along with Bible study and scripture memory, we teach the disciplines of confession and journaling. We ask them to begin these disciples before they go so that they are habits when they get to the mission field.
Prepare to Pray
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
Do not underestimate the power of prayer as part of your preparations and your mission trip. Every mission team member should have a “cloud of witnesses” that commit to pray for them before, during and after their trip. We ask each student to have a team of 25 prayer partners. We practice this as an organization by enlisting prayer partners to pray even before we select our student missionaries. We also train our students to prayer walk and ask them to begin on their campus. Students are challenged to prayer walk their mission field within the first 24 hours upon arriving. And then, to schedule daily or weekly prayer walks during their time of service. Knowing how to lay a foundation of prayer before you begin to serve or share is laying a strong foundation.
Prepare to Battle
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Scripture is clear that we have an enemy that will stop at nothing to prevent us from doing God’s work. Preparing for spiritual warfare should be an important part of your training. Teach your team what it is, how to recognize it and the tools needed for the battle. We teach our students the discipline of putting on their spiritual armor daily (Ephesians 6:10-17). We also ask them to memorize scriptures that can be used to battle the enemy. Again, this discipline is valuable for any Christian, on or off the “mission field.”
These are some of the basics we cover in training our Go Now Missionaries. Other topics we address in training are: culture shock, conflict resolution, cultural intelligence, being a leader, and being a servant. Over and over again we hear how students begin to use these tools on their campus before they go and continue to use them long after. While preparing for the mission trip, they are actually preparing for the life of a mission-minded disciple of Christ. It becomes more than a trip; it becomes a lifestyle!