International (MNN) — When participating in a mission trip, it’s easy to get fired up about Jesus and serving others. But what happens afterwards?
Buckner International had that same question and with helpful hints from last week’s Missio Nexus conference, they’re sorting out ways to make the message in missions stick.
Buckner’s Shawn Lester says Missio Nexus brought in a lot of perspective. “It’s been a great opportunity to hear how to serve with excellence and just bringing to the forefront thoughts about how Buckner, how we serve the children as well as the participants that go with us.”
Mission trips have always been a two way street. The people who do the serving and the people who are served are both changed. The local church sees people growing stronger spiritually and closer in regards to relationships.
“The church is the way the Lord uses the trip participants… With a church there’s helping to provide resources and leadership and additional experiences. And they in turn can communicate that with their church.”
While many of the changes Buckner sees come from church group mission trips, they may also come from individuals, but Lester says that can lead to some challenges.
“We have open trips where we have individuals go and so that process is different because there’s not a church that has led them. And so sometimes that falls on Buckner as an organization to say how can we help this team of individuals versus the church?”
But in some ways, receiving individuals is a blessing in disguise. Lester shares the story of several individuals who delivered shoes to children, and saw how great the need was over there. When they returned home, they shared that need with their home church.
“The church came and said we want to send teams. As a result, they’ve been sending three teams a year for the last five years,” Lester says.
Success stories like this made Buckner want to push others to continue their mission work after mission trips, wherever they are.
“Personally, I’m thinking how can I help trip participants take it beyond the actual trip when they come home to begin the lifelong journey of the experience and processing what God does and in through them as they serve and going home and making that part of their everyday walk.”
Last year’s Missio Nexus led to some answers and actions, as did this year’s.
“We’ve begun to do things like debriefing with teams and providing resources to help after you returned home, and are continuing to even talk this year about what are some other things we can do – resources and experiences to provide to trip participants to they can continue to think about three months later, six months later.”
This is helping to unify churches and individuals and make them a team in their own community and internationally.
Be praying for leadership and boldness in those who serve alongside Buckner.