Each short-term mission is unique. Culture, personality, team size, leadership, and length of ministry are just a few factors affecting each experience. Despite the incredible variety, it's surprising how many of the feelings and events of returning home can be alike for every short-termer. Short-termers of all ages have revealed a myriad of issues that have to be processed during re-entry. Through an interactive polling process, it was possible to rank many topics and come up with "The Top 10."
Below you will find a list of these top 10 topics and a brief overview with a link to resources about each topic.
1. Shock of Returning
Home Short-term missions for the long haul means that you take time to grow and learn through processing these feelings. Remember that no culture is perfect. Be careful that you don't become critical or cynical about either culture. Embrace the good about each one and learn from the mistakes that people make in both places. You may have little power to affect an entire culture or country, but you do have the power to make corrections in your own life.
2. Spiritual Warfare
Short-term missions for the long haul means that you remain alert to the spiritual battle that rages at all times, and you claim God's promises and revel in his strength and protection. The Bible says, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (1 Peter 5:8 & 9).
3. I'm Done With the Spiritual Stuff, Right?
Short-term missions for the long haul means choosing to remain in the Word and to be a person of prayer. This is truly a discipline because it takes a sheer act of the will to bring correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement. Don't take the easy road. Be diligent to stay on this spiritual journey, and God will continue to teach and mold you. Instead of a "mountaintop experience"you will enjoy a new level in your spiritual growth and find yourself climbing to still greater heights in your relationship with God.
4. Kingdom Perspective
Short-term missions for the long haul means that, it's not the circumstances that matter; it's what you do with 'em that does! Seek God in the midst of all your circumstances, behave the way Jesus would, and then wait to see what he does! How many times have you been caught up in the details that you can see instead of "riding the wave" and finding out what God has in store for you and other people?
5. God's Will For My Life
Short-term missions for the long haul means that you earnestly seek God in determining how he will use you here on earth, and that you obey Him and put your unwavering trust in Him. STM usually provides a platform for life-change that brings about a transformation in values and priorities. With that may come a sense that God has something different for you than the track you are currently on. Thus begins the journey to discover God's will.
6. Gift Assessment
Short-term missions for the long haul means that you continue to explore all the ways God has gifted you. Apply those gifts in your church, your neighborhood, and the world. Your short-term mission experience can really challenge what you thought you knew about yourself. Having been asked to do things outside your comfort zone, you may have found that you have more gifts than you knew you had. Now is a good time to revisit your goals, abilities, and gifts. Are you where God wants you to be and doing the things he's gifted you to do?
7. Marriage & Family
Whether you are single or married, a parent or a child, short-term missions for the long haul means integrating your experiences into life with those closest to you, and finding practical outlets for processing and reconnecting. Your STM experience will have an effect on those who are closest to you, and it can impact the way you feel about marriage and family.
Short-term missions for the long haul means that you examine your generosity and obedience, and make life-altering decisions about how you handle your finances and worldly possessions. God owns it all, and he wants you to manage your portion well. Venturing into another culture is always eye-opening whether it is inner-city Chicago or a foreign land. You find out how much you have compared to so many others, and you often witness true contentment even in the midst of poverty or other adverse conditions. As you re-evaluate how you spend money and on what things you place value, now is a good time to make significant stewardship decisions.
9. Life's Unresolved Hurts and Pains
Short-term missions for the long haul means taking the high road and acting on these new convictions. You may feel convictions to repair broken relationships, or you may simply be reminded of how much something or someone has hurt you. It means restoring friendships and seeking forgiveness. God is glorified in reconciliation.
10. Friendships for the Ongoing Journey
Short-term missions for the long haul means that you choose friends who will bring out the best in you. Choose to engage in other friendships for the purpose of outreach, but be cautious about how much time you spend with them and what you do with them.