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The Next Mile curriculum offers practical tools to enable leaders to plan, conduct and follow-through with short-term mission trips for long-term impact.

 

 

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The Next Mile E-Zine - live life on mission after the trip ends

Sunday
Jan012012

Do Inquiring Minds REALLY Want to Know?

By Brian Heerwagen, DELTA Ministries International

Have you ever had so many stories and adventures to tell you were just bursting to tell someone – anyone? I sure have. After traveling in amazing cultures, trying wild and crazy foods, and riding with some downright scary taxi drivers, I can tell stories of plane-rides, animals, police, remote villages, bugs and more.

But no one else was there... at least not the people I spend time with here at home. So, yes, I believe that inquiring minds DO want to know, but I’ve learned they only want glimpses, images, or impact, and they likely won’t relate to much of what I share. As a result, I’ve come up with four ideas that reach four different kinds of audiences. And, because we are all accustomed to how television organizes information, these typical “TV experiences” will provide the perfect grid.

They work for me, and can help you be more effective when you return home – if you plan ahead.

Think commercial:  For “anyone who asks.” (30 seconds, up to 2 minutes)
People will say, “Hey, welcome back!  How was it?” This is usually in social settings; a casual-passing-by kind of moment. In this case, be prepared with a couple of very short stories, or quick answers.

I usually have two parts when I answer “anyone who asks”:

  • A high level summary statement – “It was great. We had some incredible challenges, but the people and the culture were so amazing, and God used our team to strengthen the work of the church there.” Or, “It seems like everything went wrong along the way, but you wouldn’t believe how God filled every day with opportunities for outreach. And we were changed, too!”
  • And then use a quick example, a very short story that illustrates how God worked.

Think TV Series: For those who have “some time to give.”  (3 to 5 minutes)
I love these opportunities – they happen over coffee or lunch. But, I know my time with these folks is still limited by both the clock, and their attention span. And so, as I’m leaving the mission field, I decide which two or three stories I will use for those who have “some time to give.” If you do well with one “episode,” you will usually get a chance to share again.

Here are some examples from my recent trip to Haiti:

  • The story of how 16-year old Dave got saved in Haiti the day before we left
  • Seeing how the new water treatment plant is impacting the community from a humanitarian standpoint by providing jobs and income for the church and school; and by giving credibility and visibility for the church and for Gospel outreach
  • The privilege of experiencing the joy and hope of so many children who are learning about Christ and salvation.

Think Movie: For those select few who have “lots of time to give.” (10 minutes to 1 hour)
Oh yeah, now I get to pull out my pictures – but not all of them. There are two things you need for these folks:  Your TV series stories (above) and selected pictures. After a trip, I have hundreds of pictures – all of which mean something to me. On my way home, I create a file on my desktop, sort through all the pictures, and copy maybe 10-to-30 pictures into that file. It only takes about 10 minutes to select, copy and paste. Now, with my short stories, and a file with great pictures ready to go, I can jump at the amazing chance I have to share with someone who has “lots of time to give.”

Think Documentary: For the church, school, or a local club or community group. (4 – 30 minutes)
You have your “commercials,” your “TV series stories,” plus you have already selected pictures – now just put them all together and add the following:

Framework: Start with a little history about the place you went, who you worked with, etc.

Summary: Tell what you did; bullet points with some explanation about each point

(Insert your other short stories here)

Conclusion: Tell people what difference it made and demonstrate the impact

Thanks: If appropriate, thank people because they: cared, prayed, gave, or provided resources.

The bottom line is that people DO care and DO want to hear about your experience. It just needs to be in small doses.

Telling your stories can do three things:

  • Help you debrief your experience
  • Encourage people who helped send you (prayers and support)
  • Inspire more people to be involved in future mission opportunities.

Just make a few decisions on your way home, select the right pictures, and you’re ready for any inquiring mind that comes your way!

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