When you are putting together your mission calendar for this next year don’t fall into the lazy habit of doing the exact same trip every time. We don’t say it out loud, but there are several reasons we do the same thing year after year. “It’s easy because it’s familiar.” “It’s non-threatening to our members because they know what to expect.” “It falls within their comfort zone.” “I know I can get people to go on this trip because they’ve been on it in the past.” “We know how to do this.”
The challenge in all organizations is to get people to move outside of their comfort zone, to stretch themselves. In church we don’t just talk about stretching mentally, but spiritually. We like trips that are spiritually familiar, where we are doing things we have done before. Don’t jump ahead of me, I believe in doing things at which you are good. But there is a place for the challenge, the trip that pushes us spiritually, that stretches our faith and our willingness to trust the Lord.
Consider these things when you are putting together your plan for the mission in your church:
- Do something that is entry level mission. This is a trip that anyone could go on, even someone who may not be a believer. Often this can be a construction or disaster relief type trip. Non-believers benefit from being around believers all day, seeing their attitudes and listening to the way they speak to one another.
- Do something that requires spiritual preparation and depth. This might be a children’s or youth ministry trip that offers a sports camp or VBS type of ministry. The work may be familiar to many but it also demands more preparation. You might find some new VBS or youth workers on this type of mission trip.
- Do something that challenges your church staff. Helping a new church plant get off the ground, teaching discipleship, street evangelism, cross-cultural relationship building or direct outreach opportunities are examples of things that require more from the missionary. Taking your members on this kind of trip can open their eyes to the opportunities that abound right across the street.
Don’t mistake the entry level trip for something that isn’t spiritual, just recognize that there are some things that are more spiritually challenging than others and we all need to be stretched. You’ve got some people in your church who have done so many construction trips that they don’t even think about the spiritual dimension of mission anymore. They need to be challenged.
One last thing, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to be challenged spiritually. Go to the International District in Houston to reach the nations. Go help the church plant in the next town as they canvass a neighborhood. Go!