Team trips are increasingly common and can be an ideal way to make an initial venture into understanding overseas mission, to see first-hand what God is doing elsewhere and the realities of working and living in another culture. Doing so with a group provides support for team members, especially for first-timers overseas and to locations vastly different from our own. Trip timeframes are also usually manageable around academic breaks and annual leave, with most lasting 2-3 weeks.
Teams for churches/groups can be either church or agency facilitated and range from having very specific to very broad parameters. A church-facilitated team may visit church-supported mission workers, visit at the invitation of a local church and/or focus on exploring an area or project to connect with. An agency-facilitatedteam may focus more on the wider work of the organisation and arranged with the specific interest of the group in mind.
The purpose of any team could range to include evangelism to practical assistance or be focused purely on exposure to the work and culture through observation. However with the exception of a specific practical project, it is important for all team members to be clear that most team trips are not necessarily about 'doing', rather about observation and learning. In a few short weeks you cannot offer much to those on the ground simply because you may not have the language to communicate clearly and you're transient (in and out). Mission workers have been there longer, have created relationships, and understand culture and customs in way that cannot be grasped in two weeks.
Your presence and impact will simply be touching the surface and you will not 'save the world' in this time! Understanding this going in helps minimise wrong expectations and ensures the trip is more effective for all involved. Remember your actions as a team will also affect long termers that remain behind well after you've gone.
Whatever the purpose, the experience of two-three weeks with a group of others in another country observing God at work, can be transformative. The impact on a church, post trip, can be immense as the interest for what God is doing elsewhere in the world is stirred up. Individuals return home having re-examined their own priorities, perceptions and understandings of the realities of others have been permanently changed and some deeper reflection and exploration about longer term service to God and others has been initiated and developed.
TAILOR-MAKE A TRIP: If you are part of a church or group that is keen to bring a bunch of people together, there are a number of aspects to think about.
Many agencies are more than happy to tailor-make a trip that works for your group. If you have a particular location in mind but need some assistance on identifying the best agency for this region and your intended trip purpose, please contact MISSION WORLD.