Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries has relied on church mission teams as vital expressions of God’s mission in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee areas for thirty years. Bill has learned that good teams are willing to:
Invest into the culture of the field site and the ministry program
It is important to discover where you are going through a pre-project visit that teaches you who the people are that you will be working with and how the local ministry exists within the lives of those people. Beyond the necessary practical work taught in such a visit is understanding and embracing the heart of those with whom you are working. Good ministry teams are the ones who want to understand why you do what you do and how your ministry fits into the setting around you. The culture of SMRM is relevant in its setting and the great teams are the ones who are willing to invest into that culture.
Accept responsibility for the preparation of the team with prayer, logistical work, training, equipping, ministry action, and follow up.
In a day of pre-packaged, pay-your-money-and-show up mission trips for churches, there remains a need for churches who want to go deep into mission with a willingness to take responsibility for their own preparation, planning, and work. SMRM is willing to do advance work in establishing relationships, planning ministry programs, and guiding logistical decisions but we need groups who will do the extra work to be a total mission team.
Respect the relationship of need and dreams for both entitities.
We need groups who are clear with their own hopes for the trip yet who are able to respond to our needs and dreams as opposed to their own “church mission goals”. They need to listen carefully to what is being said by the ministry site and free themselves into those possibilities.
This release enables God’s mission to be fulfilled for all.
The other question:
What makes a good ministry program to host a mission team?
Look for a program that is willing to totally share its ministry with you, one that recognizes the value of your group not only in the work that is done but in the incarnational presence of the team; one that risks itself through empowering you to be the ministers; one that names you as their own and, even more, as God’s people called together for that expression of mission; one that enables you to fulfill your own mission call.