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The Journey Continues: 4 Keys to Keeping the Flame Alive After a Mission Trip
We all know that the days and weeks following a trip are brimming with potential.  Everyone is excited about what just happened and how they are changed by their experience.  However, whenever I ask how that energy is getting captured, focused, or shared, I hear a lot of organizations and churches say things like “Yeah, we really should do this,” but if we are being honest, this is very rarely enacted or done consistently across all teams.  Even within your teams, you will find that some teams or team leaders might do this well, while others completely ignore this critical step.   Why are we so inconsistent with this area if we know it’s a valuable part of the Mission Journey? In my experience, this topic is often overshadowed by the excitement and anticipation of the mission trip itself.  Unfortunately, without this key step, we miss an opportunity to cement life change and, I would argue, this results in short-circuiting the potential for discipleship and future engagement with those participants. We believe what happens after the trip is over is just as integral to the mission journey and a golden opportunity to deepen your impact, both personally and within the community.  Here are four ways to better understand our tensions in this area and create a culture within our organizations that stewards well the entire process, including the time after the trip is over. 1. Rethinking the Post-Trip Engagement: A Shift in Perception In the wake of a mission trip, many of us heave a sigh of relief, tempted to say, "Whew… it’s over.” Unfortunately, this mindset can lead us to overlook a critical stage of the journey: post-trip engagement. It's essential to resist viewing these gatherings as simply "nice to have" or as an afterthought. Instead, we must recognize that each trip isn't a standalone event but rather a crucial milestone in a person’s broader missional journey. By placing the trip within this larger narrative, we begin to grasp the importance of the return home and the subsequent communication about what transpired during their mission. What God has done in their lives during this time is a powerful story that needs to be shared and honored. Once you capture this larger perspective, it impacts your communication with your team.  By providing a reason why and being aware of your own mindset, you can communicate the importance more clearly and help establish the mindset that you want. Here’s an example of how you may express this mindset via email to your participants. It might sound like this: “Phew, you're back from your mission trip. Your suitcase may be empty, but your heart's likely full. Now, it's tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and think, ‘All done. The trip's over.’ But wait! There's one crucial part of the journey we often overlook: the post-trip get-togethers. Let's break the mold and think of these meetings not as an ‘oh-by-the-way’ kind of thing or even just a reunion, but as a significant part of the overall mission. Why? Because a mission trip isn't a one-off. It's a stepping stone on a bigger, beautiful journey. It's a chapter in your unique story of how you're making a difference in the world… and how those moments made a difference in you that you hope to continue to cultivate. So, don't rush to close the book on this chapter. Savor it, share it, and let's talk about what God's been up to in your life.” 2. Setting Expectations Before the Trip: The Power of Preparation The groundwork for effective post-trip engagement begins even before departure. Ensure that your team understands the expectation for participation in the form of a debrief meeting upon their return. This sets the stage for open communication and active engagement. If anyone misses this meeting, a follow-up should be arranged to communicate the importance of this step, preparing them better for future missions. By setting these clear expectations and being proactive in your follow-through, you facilitate an environment where individuals feel more involved, heard, and integral to the mission's success.  Additionally, you set yourself up for success in the following years.  Think of this as a “line in the sand” moment and by establishing and enforcing expectations over the next couple of sending seasons, you will start to see incredible results. 3. In-Country Debrief: Harnessing Immediate Reflections Engaging your participants effectively in their experience of the trip shouldn’t begin once you're home. We believe it should begin while you're still in the field. Encourage your leaders to facilitate a debriefing session regularly, or at least soon before your return home. This simple yet impactful practice presses for the participation of everyone and primes the team for more in-depth conversations when they return home. Open-ended questions such as, "What was one highlight that encapsulates our time here?" and "What personal challenge, mindset shift, or behavior change did you face during this mission?" can stimulate thoughtful responses. As you wait for your return flight, encourage participants to summarize their experiences into a two-minute account and jot it down on a notecard. On the route home, they can expand this into a detailed journal entry, documenting three key take-aways that profoundly impacted their lives, perspectives, or missional journey. 4. Using Their Experience as a Call to Action: Spreading the Missional Flame Back home, the participants' experiences can be a powerful catalyst for drawing others into their journey or alongside your organizational mission.  Sharing your stories can inspire others to embark on their own journeys, and maybe even join you on your next adventure!  Therefore, encourage participants to share their stories and make it easy for them to do so. Pro Tip: Find a way to capture those stories, the lessons, and the examples of life change that occurred in your debrief.  These details will touch the hearts of your donor base, encourage future participants, and help others feel the impact that was made by the team.   Make it easy for your participants to share information about your organization, field partner, or church. As a small example, as your participants have conversations, you can encourage them to connect those people with your social media. This additional engagement not only grows your potential participant pool but also allows for continual dialogue about missions, further fostering a vibrant community that is engaged, inspired, and ready for more missional opportunities.   The mission trip might be over, but its ripple effects are just starting.  It’s an ongoing journey of growth, sharing, and inspiration.  So let’s keep the conversation going and continue making a difference together.     What have you found effective in post-trip debriefs?  How have you leveraged the stories and insights to improve in your next season? For 14 quick tips on running a successful post-trip debrief, check out our quick guide here.  
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Mission Trip Leaders: 8 ideas for engaging your leaders
One big mistake we often make as leaders is putting all the focus on our staff and forgetting that we have an army of extremely “bought in” trip leaders. Shift gears and instead, think of your leaders as more than great people who lead your trips but people who can carry your vision forward. To participants and field partners, here are some suggestions on how to engage your trip leaders to a higher calling:  #1 Equip them. Remember, they might be your greatest tool for mobilizing your audience to mission. Help them become better recruiters, mobilizers, and senders.  #2 Encourage and gift books. There are so many great mission books (When Helping Hurts, The Great Omission, Shadow of the Almighty, and so on.). Consider having an annual book you purchase and send out to all of your trip leaders to continue building their own personal mission philosophy and worldview.  #3 Appreciation meals. Host appreciation meals for your trip leaders to pour into them, keep them connected, share what’s new and upcoming, and to allow them to build a tighter community with each other. Spread these out throughout the year to avoid the “see you next summer” mindset that some trip participants and leaders may accidentally fall into.  #4 Provide trainings. Host at least one annual trip leader training. Whether it's by video or something else, the most successful we’ve seen is for organization to have a time where you stop thinking about everything else and focus on your larger purpose for mission trips.  #5 Brainstorm sessions. Host brainstorms sessions throughout the year (especially out of peak trip season to keep leaders engaged) and collect feedback on ways to do things better: preparation, process, communications, resources, debriefs, and more.  #6 Give note & gifts. Sure, giving gifts for a volunteer role may not be the norm, but think creatively about this. Sending a note card and a $5 gift card to Starbucks to say thanks for all they are doing goes a long way.  #7 Recognize the work. While trip leaders may be working with you on the direct details of a specific trip, they are often mentoring and connecting with their participants long after the trip. Be sure to recognize and thank them for continually pouring into the people.  #8 Invite to team meetings. Invite trip leaders to key team or staff meetings when you are working through short-term logistics, strategic changes that impact them, and/or celebrating key things.  You have a unique opportunity to equip and send so many people. We often fixate on the trip participants and forget what amazing resources we have in our trip leaders. More so, these trip leaders really can essentially be your pro bono staff members giving you an army of equipped mobilizers.  Action: Select at least one item from above that you can implement this week. Maybe it's having a zoom call over coffee with a few team leaders and asking them what they need most to be equipped well.    This is just one strategy of five (5) we have for doubling your impact. Download all five (5) strategies you can implement immediately that will double your missions impact.   This post is written by Will Rogers. Will is the Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceReef.
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5 ways to stay on mission at home
Staying on mission at home isn't easy. For many, the mission trip begins well before they even touch down on a foreign land. It starts in their city maybe even in their neighborhood. With so many trips being shut down right now and living in uncertainty, I want to provide five ways we can encourage our mission trip leaders and their teams to engage the world right around them. After all, that’s what Jesus did. 1. Take your neighbor or those in vulnerable situations a meal There is a phrase that begins with “You never really know someone until...”, the facetious side of me wants to say “until you know them” but one way we often see Jesus getting to know people involves a meal or inviting them into a meal. So take your team or encourage your team to share a meal with someone they may not know. 2. Spend time online with people from the community Know a local church that focuses on that demographic, check out their website and see what they are doing to carry on through the quarantine. Maybe watch their live service, and see who can learn more words or pick up phrases and then debrief with your team. Remember things may be different, but they aren’t weird. 3. Go to a restaurant that serves food from the place you would have visited Two years ago I was sitting in the Louisville airport when a conversation began between myself and an older woman from Ethiopia, we began sharing stories of traveling and different cultures. She encouraged me to visit an Ethiopian café and share in a coffee ceremony. Most people think the way I make my coffee is ceremonial in and of itself (Chemex pour over anyone?!). 4. Read a book or watch a movie. I have found books to be more accurate than movies, but unless this quarantine plans on lasting a couple months I better just watch a movie. If you love books and reading grab a book from that country or city and learn everything you can about it, study it, research it, and get together with your team over Skype or Zoom and share what you learned. God has created some amazing cultures that reflect the uniqueness and beauty of who he is so go learn about them. PS. Geography Now is a must on YouTube, you can thank me later.   5. Serve When in doubt, don’t over complicate it. God has you right where He has you. Live out the confidence and hope we have in Christ by serving those around you. Write a card to all of your neighbors, call your grandparents, or the nursing home to check in on them. Thank the superstore workers when you can only get one roll of paper towels. Deliver food to families who might be affected by the loss of a job. When in doubt, do something, anything, don’t overcomplicate it. You are an image bearer of the Father, live out of your identity in Him and walk confidently and wisely into serving those around you. This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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Ways to serve during quarantine
Who ever wants to be quarantined?! Maybe a few people out there but it’s not likely. Thankfully there are tons of creative things you can do (and should do) to engage your participants even now as people are home. We've mentioned how vital communication during a crisis can be. Don’t miss this opportunity to guide your people into a greater missional journey. Point to God with these ways to serve during quarantine. Prayer - create a prayer guide around missions (partners, projects, people, regions, needs) to send out to your participants to be praying each day for something missional. Learn - encourage them to keep learning in their missional journey either through a missions book or programs like Perspectives on the World Gospel Movement. Books - send out books about missions that people could read - biographies of missionaries, missions philosophy, stories, etc. Support Local Healthcare Workers - remember the work that local healthcare professionals are doing to combat the COVID-19 virus and reach out to provide a meal or help them in some way. Elderly in Area - reach out to local nursing homes or other facilities to see if could use assistance with supplies, errands, or other needs. Encouragement - write encouragement notes to missionaries, partners, donors, or others who are part of your missional community. Assessments - encourage your participants to take an online assessment (Enneagram, Meyers- Briggs, Strengths, etc.) to learn more about themselves and how their unique design could be used for missional purposes. Donate to a Cause - there are tons of causes out there now helping people in need around the current virus or financial circumstance, donate to one of those causes. Missional.Life - create a Missional.Life account to learn more about who God has made you to be, what story He has written, and where He might be calling you. Research - learn more about the specific field you were planning to visit to learn more about their culture, the religious makeup, their history, and their needs. Zoom Meetings - host a team Zoom meeting to keep everyone connected and engaged. Zoom meetings can be great to keep everyone’s mind in the game. Share Stories - have everyone share stories (online if possible) about what they are learning through this season about their short term trip hopes. Have you or are you planning on using any of these ideas? Let us know on our facebook page.    This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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What to include in weekly communication during this crisis
First, you should consider creating a weekly communication during this crisis (or whatever frequency you prefer) to stay engaged with your trip participants while we all wait to learn next steps and what’s coming. Everyone understands the unknown of the current situation. We believe this is a great time for you to stay engaged regularly with your participants and continue to keep their hearts and minds engaged in a missional perspective of life.   NOTE: There’s no ideal time line for a resource like this... keep evaluating each week if still needed.   Here are a few suggestions for what you might include in a weekly digest: Prayer requests - share prayer requests from your church, organization, partners, or other things. Scripture verses - teach and edify your participants so they can continue to grow in their faith. Key updates - keep everyone updated on anything new from you or the field. People want to know! Stories - share stories from the partner on the field or other things you’re hearing and learning. We’re all in this together. One thing you could do - give suggestions for one key thing each time that they can do. Survey question - get to know your constituents better, send out a survey each time to learn about their missional interests, challenges, or desires. Note from you - make it personal and share from your heart how things are going. Sermon resource - share any sermons or lessons from your pastor or other churches (make sure to give credit!) Blog article - write or share a blog article about how others are working through this interesting time. We hope this post encourages you to start communicating more regularly during this time.    This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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10 ideas for communicating well during a crisis
We talked about how to improve fundraising communication recently. Let's review some ideas for how you can communicate well to everyone you need to during a crisis—or even when life goes back to normal—for that matter. Here 10 ideas for communicating well during a crisis:  1. Over communication I truly believe that over-communicating is key. Would you rather someone say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”, or “Ok, I have enough information?”. I for one will take the latter. Granted there are certain situations where information must come out at its rightful time and place, but communicate until you are blue in the face and people are asking you to stop telling them. 2. Break your communication list down Who needs to know what? Staff, team leaders, participants, parents, leaders, donors, partners, lodging, transportation. Take a moment a create a list of who exactly needs to know what. 3. Communication is two way Give people space to ask questions. Whether that's through social media, responding to email, or just making phone calls, allow space for people to ask. 4. Behind the scenes Don’t be afraid to give them insight behind the curtain. I have found a lot of questions come from a lack of context or communication. What will hurt from letting them know your process? I mean really, are any of us keeping presidential-size secrets that people cannot know? Take a breath and give the people what they want! 5. Prioritize your communication list There is nothing worse than a participant knowing something before a team leader. Enough said. 6. Create a sample email (then test it) Write out your email. Give it a proofread. Now read it again. Now send it to your team to proofread. Now send it to yourself. Ok, you’re all set! Hit send and let the questions roll in, just kidding, you’ve communicated so well nobody will have any questions. 7. Don't forget donors This is a very important group. Here are a couple of approaches to this; it all depends on how your organization handles donations and participants. First of all, thank them. This is so important—but can be forgotten in the chaos. Second, let them know your policy for donations whether the money will remain with the participant until they can go, or your own policy regarding funds when a short-trip is cancelled. This might include letting them know the IRS policy on donations and refunds. 8. What’s next?! Let them know how you will be monitoring the situation, who you are listening to, and how you are going to communicate moving forward. Should they be looking for emails, phone calls, updates from team leaders, social, or website? Be clear and follow through on those. If it changes, let them know!
 9. Empower If you have the space, empower your team leaders to communicate to your team. For one, it takes the burden off of you to communicate and manage however many people you have going on trips. Second, as leaders, we should desire to draw out of our people the ability to lead. Giving this opportunity, although small, gives them the chance to grow and lead their team well—at your direction. You might even write them a sample email to get them started. 10. Have fun with it! Seriously, I'm not kidding. Especially at a time like this, there is so much somberness going around that being able to lighten the mood through an email, will relieve the tension for the participant and leader. We need to keep perspective that the God of the universe is in control. In the meantime... Share some good books to read (could I recommend “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”),  encourage them to engage with the community they were going to be apart over there right here, meetings over zoom or Skype, love people by respecting their space especially at this time, or make a list of places where people in vulnerable situations might be that they could serve and love well. I was telling a friend of mine after all this is over if I am no closer to the Father than I was when it started I will be disappointed. Encourage time and space to spend with God.   This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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How to improve fundraising communication with participants, leaders, and parents
One of the key elements that will drive questions from participants, leaders, and parents is “what happens to the funds I've raised for this trip?” Some key elements to prepare yourself and your teams for this include the following, which may include things you are already doing, but perhaps can do better/different to make this easier each time that you go through this process.  You already understand your role as a leader when it comes to short-term mission trips. Here are a few ideas for how to improve fundraising communication with participants, leaders, and parents Involve your Accounting Team and Financial Leaders This one is pretty obvious, but there are some critical questions that they will need to help walk you through, including: ✓  Tax implications and verbiage you can use when people ask for a refund (because they will, even if you’ve told them many times what the process is) ✓  What should we do with the funds that were already provided? ✓  Are there any restrictions and/or considerations we should make when deciding to cancel or postpone a trip? ✓  Identify which funds or trips that already have expenses and determine what do to in order to recover or eat that cost (e.g. travel costs, etc.)   Involve your Leadership Team Depending on the involvement of your leaders, some may already be well aware of what is going on, but here are some thoughts to consider: ✓  Be prepared to summarize for them (or provide them a summary that they can provide their own leadership/board). ✓  Provide options with benefits/drawbacks to each approach. For example, reschedule versus cancel. ✓  If you decide to reschedule, have a general timeframe for communication... or at least determine what information you will need to decide on a timeframe. ✓  If not involved in the financial communication with your accounting team, provide your leaders a roadmap/summary of the financial impact and approach that is suggested (as they will likely be asked this by their leadership)   Communicate Clearly to Participants and Leaders ✓  Create a communication plan, even if a very simple one. For example, write up a communication to the teams and create some common questions people will ask. ✓  Clearly communicate what will happen with any funds that have been raised (based on your conversations with accounting and leadership). ✓  Have others review your communication. This can be a review for typos, tone, etc., but it is important to make sure that you get buy-in from others. ✓  Copy and Paste...once you answer a question once, either copy it to a word doc so you can use it later or add it to your common FAQ area/web page. ✓  Provide some education or guidance to the process. For example, participants are not aware of the tax situation for non-profit donation. Provide some simple guidance that helps them understand enough, while keeping communication focused. ✓  Provide assurance that their concerns are addressed. While you may have gone through this process many times, this might be the participant’s first time a trip was cancelled. Try to put yourself in their shoes and address uncertainty. Assure them that you have done this before and will guide them through the process.   We hope this helps you improve fundraising communication when speaking with participants, leaders, and parents.    This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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Should you cancel or reschedule that short-term mission trip?
For most of us, the decision to cancel or reschedule a short-term mission trip was made for us with the cancellation of international flights and other quarantines. That still left the remaining question of having to simply cancel the trip all together or reschedule it for a later date. Both have their reasons and both have their benefits. Let’s unpack the two sides to better assess which might be best for your organization.   Here are a few times when it's good to strongly consider CANCELLING? When it’s time specific When the team you’re visiting isn’t on the field any longer When there are fixed variables Project was time sensitive   Here are a few times when it's good to strongly consider RESCHEDULING? Because of government travel restrictions Because it’s the wise thing to do When you have a flexible team, team leaders, field host, and logistics   Have you made your decision yet? Here are a few questions you could/should be asking: Is it possible to reschedule? Do you want to reschedule the trip? Would participants be able to reschedule? Can we accomplish the same goal if we reschedule? How much work will it be to reschedule the trip (and is it worth it)? What are our absolutes for rescheduling? Hopefully, for those of you considering cancelling or rescheduling, we've helped you unpack the two sides to better assess which might be best for your organization.    This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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Finding peace in Christ so you can care for your team
For many going on a mission trip is a monumental step. I went on my first trip my freshman year of high school and it changed the trajectory of my life. Maybe they come from a family of missionaries, or a friend/mentor has gone on one and they want to go on one as well. Maybe they are simply following the way of Jesus and going. Regardless of the reason, mission trips can hold a lot of emotion with them whether expressed or not. For this reason, it is imperative that we do everything we can as not just leaders, but as guides to walk with those entrusted to us through the ups and downs of a cancelled trip. You need, especially during this time, to care for your team.  Specifically, in light of current events there are even more questions and fears that come up with mission trips. Many participants may be thinking, will I ever get to go again. There is so much planning for those outside of vocational ministry that goes into going on short-term mission trips. From babysitters, to boarding pets, personal time off at work, school schedules, sport schedules, maybe even family holidays. For many, the stars have to align just to be able to follow what they believe God is calling them too. It is so important to keep this in mind when communicating the cancellation of a trip and subsequently walking with those through this because with the cancelling comes almost a gut punch after so much prep work. Caring for their heart in the midst of this is crucial. People are looking to you for answers and the first way I would say you would care for their heart: care for your own. I know I know, we all know this, but seriously, are you? If not that’s ok and you’re probably not alone, but go ahead and start somewhere—anywhere. If you are not taking time to pray and be in God’s word before you start your day or even making each phone call may I just encourage you, start, now. We all know that the bible is not going to give you a necessarily clean-cut answer for questions concerning travel or refunds, but is that what all of this is about? In the midst of the chaos it can be hard to find a time to do things that bring you joy. Can I encourage you real quick? Fight for space to breathe, to take joy in God’s creation. Take a walk through the park. Call the friend you’ve been meaning to call. If we cannot stop and realize that this too shall pass, then we will only grow short and impatient with those we serve. As you have cared for your own heart, you can now welcome the ability and space to care for your leaders and participants. The most important piece in this: listen. Right, of course, we all listen, but are we really listening? Are we hearing their heart? The frustration, panic, worry, disappointment. The plans that have to be cancelled, the work they will have to go through to change all those plans. Let’s be honest, we all just want to be heard. So be patient, listen to the questions and hear the heart of your people. So we have cared for our hearts, listened to the heart of those we are entrusted with, now what? Encourage. Specifically, in light of the pandemic today. Look at Colossians 1:16-17: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The phrase that has been on my mind and I have shared with a few people: there is great peace in knowing Jesus. Encourage your team and remind them who is in control and that none of this surprises Him.   This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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How to handle fear and news in light of a pandemic
Depending on which news source and which day, it may appear as if the world is ending. Amidst this crisis (or the next one), how do we respond internally to what is going on around us? What should be our response as those who follow Christ? Although there is plenty of guidance out there on the handling of this pandemic, one area we wanted to walk through is what is this doing to our soul, how should we respond both internally and externally, and what role Jesus might be asking us to take. A verse that has been helpful to me during this time is Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God, who takes you by the right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’”. Everyone who has a relationship with Christ Jesus has a direct line to wisdom, strength, courage, and hope regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We have put a few of our thoughts together below, but please know that if you go to Him, there is wisdom and direction for the days and weeks ahead specific to your situation (James 1:5). First, spend some time in listening prayer Take a few moments each day in the quiet of your house or car to create opportunities to give your soul some rest. If you are like most of us, you go from moment to moment with hardly even 15 minutes for lunch. The isolation required of today allows us to take a moment to pause... take advantage of it! Give yourself some room to pause, pray, and listen each day (even if it is just one minute in your car before you go into work or enter your home... take some deep breaths and allow a quiet moment to align yourself to God). Ask for wisdom, understanding, and peace that surpasses understanding. Second, release this to God There is a phrase popularized by John Eldredge lately where he simply prays, “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you”. Repeat that a few times when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Practice benevolent detachment by releasing patience, tragedy, or strong emotions to Him. Consider Matthew 11:30 and ask how Jesus might lighten your burden during these stressful times. Third, consider your response We are called to be light and salt to this world. There are neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, and community members who are completely freaked out and afraid during this time. Additionally, the necessary action of socially distancing ourselves will add to the fear, despair, and loneliness of those around us. Find practical ways to love and be light during this dark time. Consider even small actions, like texting neighbors, making a meal/cookies for them, or just letting them know that you are thinking of them. Check in on neighbors, especially those that might be isolated. If you feel like taking additional steps, consider inviting them to dinner, board games, iced tea on the porch, etc (follow CDC guidelines though!). Even if you want to sit 6 feet apart on your back deck to minimize contact, any socialization will feel like light in this dark time. Be smart about your actions, but also recognize that this is an ideal time for Christ followers to help lighten others burdens, ease their fear, and help share the hope that we have... and last we checked, viruses don’t spread via phone calls or text messages, so even small steps can be meaningful. :-) Wherever your heart may be these days, remember that we have someone who created us and formed us before we had taken our first breath. Perhaps, like the tribe of Issachar (I Chronicles 12:32), we can be a people who understand the time and can see the path ahead. Or perhaps like Esther, we can consider where we have been put into our jobs, neighborhood, church, community, and family for “just a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Most of all, during this time of isolation, know that you are never alone. Although the road before us is difficult, there is someone we can rely on for strength and understanding. Remember the promises of God, and, as appropriate, share that hope with others. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Blessings on you as we journey together and lead others toward health in the weeks and months ahead. This is just one post of many we'll be doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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7 Questions You Should Be Asking
7 Questions You Should Be Asking Leading your church or organization into adopting a new technology, no matter how awesome it is, can be daunting.  If you are like many, you are probably concerned about making a wise choice that will reflect well on you, your leadership, and your church/organization. We understand and want to guide you to the best solution, even if it is not ServiceReef (seriously!).  Our heart has always been to help guide organizations to increased Kingdom impact.  There are a few tools out there created by folks with good hearts and intentions.  Deciphering which is best for you can be a challenge.  Here are a few key questions to be asking as you evaluate any new technology.  Please note: Since this is a pretty intensive topic, you can also check out our guide for Choosing a Technology (coming in Fall 2019) which will help walk you through how to evaluate options in more detail.   Who are my key stakeholders? Before you get too far in the decision process, make sure you have a good understanding of your internal teams and who might be impacted by new software.Based on their role, their questions will differ, but understanding their perspective on the process now will help streamline adoption later.Make sure you present the current problem you are looking to solve along with any benefits of a “change” with each stakeholder.That allows them to understand the gains you are looking to accomplish and help them feel a part of the solution that you choose. Here are a couple of quick examples… Who will make the actual purchase decision?  If this is you or your boss, just make sure they are looped in early so you have a good understanding of what goals they are attempting to achieve and are aware of the “why” behind your proposed solution.If you need some assistance, check out this quick overview of Getting Your Boss on Board Are there any financial flow decisions?  We are all pressed for time and that is especially true of your financial folks.Their primary concerns are typically around Security and Time Management.Managing “another flow” of donations creates a fear that it will add a lot of time to their schedules.Likely, this is not going to change anything they are doing currently and might even make their lives easier (especially if they are managing their current donations manually for missions).However, to ease this conversation, sit down with your Controller/Accounting staff and ask about their current process.ServiceReef strives to make this as easy as possible in a variety of ways, including CRM integrations, automated flows into a designated account, manual transaction entry, and ways to designate donations to a specific accounting code. Are there any IT-related concerns?  If you have folks on staff that manage technology, it’s usually a good idea to include them so they can help answer any integration or technical questions that come up.Typical questions you might get are around security and support in case anything goes wrong.Assure them that the ServiceReef team is continually updating their platform to stay on top of key security and support issues. Again, we are committed to your success… but if they have questions, please reach out and we can provide them with additional information.   What is the true cost? You might be familiar with the phrase “Penny wise, Pound foolish.”  This English expression first appeared in a 1621 book by Robert Burton.  It still rings true nearly 200 years later.  When considering the cost of a missions platform, the key indicators often come down to the actual dollars that will be spent.  While a part of the decision process, caution your key stakeholders that this isn’t the only cost to consider.  Here are some questions to guide you to a fuller evaluation… What is the cost of doing nothing?  Yes, you can actually manage missions relatively “free” with spreadsheet programs or online volunteer sign-up forms. However, these don’t expand very well and typically need weekly (if not daily) management to maintain accuracy.This costs you (or others) precious time each week.A quick example… we had a trip admin who used to spend her entire Friday each week sorting through excel spreadsheets and emailing participants their current fundraising status.When she joined ServiceReef, our automated emails kept everything up to date and she got an entire day back in her schedule to use for more strategic purposes.Your time, or even “volunteer’s time”, actually has a cost… don’t overlook this when making a decision. Does the cost structure allow us to scale?  Some platforms charge on a per trip cost.Others on a monthly subscription.There are a couple of questions to evaluate as the initial cost may not reflect what your cost will be in 12-18 months as you grow.For example, if there is a platform that charges on a per-trip basis, consider how many months you would need to keep that trip active (for both recruiting and post-trip activities).Also, consider the mental energy to consider in remembering when to open/close each trip to try and manage costs.ServiceReef considered several billing options and made “ease of use” a primary reason for our pricing structure.You can scale up/down within the plans through your organization settings as you grow, but you also just have a single cost per month and room to grow your impact.If you suddenly need to put a couple new trips out there to meet a need, you won’t need to worry about additional costs as there is room within each tier to meet your needs.If nothing else, this also makes the conversation easy with your stakeholders when they ask “what is the cost?”… as you won’t have to do any mental calculations.  Find out more about our pricing.   Is this platform expanding? One key consideration is the investment each company is making yearly to improve the process for participants and stay on top of key developments within the Missions industry.ServiceReef is committed to driving the industry forward and is continually adapting the platform to ensure success for its partner organizations (i.e. YOU!).Each year, we create 1 or 2 key modules as well has hundreds of small tweaks to help provide a stable and secure platform.As long as you have ideas (and we haven’t run into too many admins without ideas ), we will continue to provide as many efficiencies and tools to make you successful.   Is this trusted by others? Since each organization is unique, it might be difficult at first to figure out which platform is best for your situation.In guiding hundreds of organizations, we have found that there are some key shared principles to consider… whether you are a mega-church, a small organization running one trip a year, or anything in between.Here are some stories around various functions within ServiceReef… take a look at how some of your colleagues have become heroes by using this platform.   How does this help our participants? Today’s mission participant expects technology to be easy and available whenever they have questions.By ensuring that they can apply, track forms, get meeting reminders, or immediately access their updated fundraising status, you reduce the questions participants have while empowering them to own their preparation process.ServiceReef originally built their platform with the participant in mind, ensuring a seamless experience regardless of the device being used.   Can this help me capture impact? Although we all know that the true impact of Kingdom work may not be known in the days or weeks (or years) following a missions trip, the platform you select should have ways to gather a collection of data points that help you measure the impact on both the lives in the field and the impact on those that participated.ServiceReef captures this impact through two key areas: Stories: We believe that story-telling is the primary way to demonstrate personal and field-impact.  By making it easy to share stories/pictures, supporters can follow along at home as participants grow through their experience.  By giving admins control to approve and edit stories, we also provide you ways to protect the safety of those involved. Map Points: What if you could visually show all of your organization’s/church’s touch points around the world?  ServiceReef has a free (yes, FREE) tool to help you display your global touch points and better tell your story.  If you post a trip through ServiceReef, it’s automatically included on your map (assuming, of course, that it isn’t a “secure” trip… you can create those to not show on the map).  The ServiceReef mapping tool is designed to help you tell your vision story… where you’ve been and where you are going.    Engaging people beyond a technology? Although you are in the process of considering a technology platform, you should keep in mind that there are ways to engage outside of the platform itself. How else will this platform help guide people along their missional journey?  ServiceReef engages people in several ways both within and outside of the site.Here are a couple of examples: Missional.Life: Every participant who goes on a trip has the option to create a free profile.This allows that user to keep supporters updated of their journey into a life of missions (Domestic, International, Job-related, etc).By enabling them to engage supporters in a similar fashion to social media platforms, it’s easy for them to post stories, prayer requests, and more while keeping their message to only those that they can trust (their private supporters).Since the platforms integrate together, any trip they participate on will automatically flow from to show on their activity feed for supporters to be aware.Find out more here: Donors: For those that give to your participants, the check is so much more than just money.It’s a way to support that individual… and for many, it’s a tangible encouragement of what God is doing in their life.When someone donates, they are alerted via email to stories that are shared on that trip.This enables them to continue to ask questions, engage, and PRAY during each stage of that trip… preparation, during the trip, and after that trip.