I will be part of a team from our church going to Quebec on Saturday. Tyler Eiland, who served as a missionary with IMB to Congo, shared the following list with us during our final prep meeting last night.
Do’s and Don’ts of Short Term Missions
1. Don’t assume that the church there will look like the church here. According to Tim Keller, contextualization is adapting my communication of the gospel without changing the gospel’s essential character. Dean Fleming states, “Contextualization is the dynamic and comprehensive process by which the gospel is incarnated within a concrete historical or cultural situation.”
2. Do be an encouragement to the missionaries you encounter. Affirm and support them.
3. Don’t do anything that a local person can’t do or easily reproduce. Short term teams should avoid creating dependency by offering a program or ministry that requires supplies or technology that is not available in the area. Do provide ministries that can be easily reproduced and supplied long after you are gone.
4. Do ask questions about the culture and the greatest needs of the missionaries in the area.
5. Don’t complain (Phil. 4:13) and be careful in stating your observations. It can be irritating to a missionary and offensive to the residents to hear you complain about anything, especially the little things. For example, when in underdeveloped contexts, be sure to avoid statements such as, “I can’t believe the people here live on so little.”
6. Do realize the church is not bricks and mortar, but the people of God. The church could be meeting in a house, under a tree, or in a very “non-traditional” facility.
7. Do rest in the power of the gospel to change lives (Rom. 1:16). Sharing the gospel is like handing out lightning rods in a thunderstorm. You don’t know where the lightening will strike, but you know what it will strike.