5 Things Your Mission Experience is Missing

Let’s get right into this. Over the years, we have seen some amazing things happen during short-term trips. There are a few things we have found to pull together teams and efforts to leave the best lasting impact.

  1. Talk about conflict

It’s truly the most expressive actions of short-term teams, how they treat each other. Conflict is inevitable. It will happen. It’s best to talk about in advance, before it comes up on how to deal with it.

We make a few key notes in training/meetings before departure:

  • Conflict will happen.

  • Say sorry fast.

  • Talk about the leaders personality - a few trusted personality profiles: The Enneagram, 16 Personalities, & the DISC. The keys to highlight about your leadership style. It’s also amazing for team members to have a sense of their style.

  • Conflict resolution style: Some people go to silence when in conflict. Some go to anger. The book Crucial Conversations explains the different styles. Here is a summary of the book. This will help people realize they are responding in an appropriate or inappropriate way.

  • Deal with it immediately or as quickly as possible.

The key of conflict is defining a Biblical truth: what is done it dark will bring separation to the team. It may not be noticed at first. But if it’s not dealt with, you may end up in a major conflict a few days later, when it matters most. Here is a list of Biblical references.

2. Debrief

Intense emotions will come through your travel, trip, and experience. And nearly anything can trigger your feelings from a childhood memory to a humbling experience you encounter. A daily debrief will allow your team to process emotions together.

For emotionally difficult circumstances, IMB has put together an amazing library of resources to process international trips.

3. Culture

Cultural interactions will play a large role in your international experience. It shouldn’t be quickly overlooked. Hosts have an array of fears and worries they are anticipating to make sure your experience is the best. Notice it. Thank them. Give them every reason for them to be excited for your next visit. It may even be helpful to bring small, simple gift for all the people who help you along the way. Say, the hotel staff, the drivers, the guides, or the restaurant staff. Your hosts will notice this and it will make them look good, too.

Another great resource is Hofstede’s Cultural Comparison. This tool will help you compare your host culture to your culture. It isn’t perfect, but it can give you insights to actions that would be easy to overlook.

4. Journaling

There are many benefits to journaling while traveling. Beyond that, it simply eliminates the challenge of trying to remember everything that is happening. During your trip, you may experience a heighten level of emotions that need time to process. By journaling them, you open the door to remember everything.

We created the Story Capture™ system that you can utilize during your trip. It helps you capture all the amazing stories each day in just a few moments. Imagine capturing 5-10 powerful stories each day in just a matter of a few minutes. Healing and growth are right around the corner of journaling. It’s a wonderful vehicle for handling stress as well.

5. Love over everything

I mean, this may seem easy but it’s actually quite a challenge for many westerners. It’s easy to pride ourselves in the doing and not the being. And since we are human beings, it’s important to remember that being with the people is the ultimate expression of God’s love in this experience.

David Iskander