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Engaging Members with Custom Questions
We're excited to announce a game-changing feature that empowers organizations to deepen their engagement with their members. Introducing: Custom Member Questions. This innovative addition allows for a more personalized interaction between organizations and their users, making every member's experience truly unique. What Do Custom Member Questions Look Like? This feature enables organizations to tailor the onboarding and engagement process by asking members specific questions. These questions can be created, filled out, and edited by users, and conveniently viewed, exported, and updated by organization admins. How Do I Set It Up? Setting up Custom Member Questions is a breeze. Simply head over to the admin Mission Control, then: Navigate to "Organization Settings" Then, to "General" Then to “Member Questions” From there, you can begin creating your tailored questions.  The process is intuitive, employing a drag-and-drop mechanism from a question bank or templates for ease and efficiency. Each question can be customized to fit your organization's needs, ensuring a seamless integration into your members' user experience. How This Impacts Different Members Custom questions will now appear at the end of every new signup process, allowing new members to provide valuable information from the get-go too. Existing members have the flexibility to update their answers anytime. This ensures their information remains current. To make updates within a current member profile, just click: Update “Profile” Then, “Member Info” Organization Admins can access and review all member responses in the Member Modal under the “Personal Information” section, providing a deeper understanding of the community. Responses to member questions can be exported both as part of a comprehensive Excel file download or selectively for individual members, offering admins versatile options in their data management. Why It Matters This feature is more than just a tool; it's a way to foster a closer, more engaging community. By understanding members' needs, preferences, and feedback, organizations can tailor their strategies, events, and communications to ensure every member feels seen and valued. Get Started Now Dive into the new “Custom Member Questions” feature today and unlock the full potential of your member engagement strategies. It's time to make every member's experience not just good, but great! If you're new to ServiceReef, take advantage of a free trial to see this new feature along with all the other benefits our platform provides organizations like yours. Stay tuned for more new features available this Spring. We are committed to continually enhancing your organization's capabilities and experience. Welcome to the future of personalized member engagement!   Meta Description- New Addition to the ServiceReef Platform. Check out has this feature allows you to personalize your member experience.
A Personal Reflection on Gratitude
During this time of year, it is common for us to reflect on the things in our lives that provide a sense of gratitude, and that’s good for us to do so. But like the subjects of “Rest” or “Sabbath,” if we only wait until we are on vacation or a rare chance at a sabbatical to truly rest, we won’t find it refreshing. These are meant to be practices spun into and through our chaotic lives to provide an alternative to the hectic pace our culture espouses.   With the dawn of each new year, I spend time prayerfully considering a theme that God might have for me. Sometimes this eventually comes as a phrase or a word that I spend time throughout the year focusing on and journaling about. This past January, the word I received was “grateful.” I genuinely feel that I am a positive person and pretty grateful already, so I wasn’t super excited about it, but I wrote it down and went about my year. However, as I reflect back on these past 11 months, there are so many moments for which I am truly grateful, even though they were extremely hard at the time (and some continue to be).  There are moments of loss in this year, but gratitude in that our family could travel and be there with the loved ones prior to their passing. There are moments of extreme challenges and changes in life, but gratitude to find myself doing things I love with the people I love the most.    As we head into the upcoming seasons, I know this is hard for many, sweet for some, and stressful for most :-)  I am blessed to have had a prompting in January that helped prepare me for my own journey this year as it has allowed me to build gratitude into my daily/weekly rhythms and allows for me to reflect during this time of year over the multitude of small events that I would have missed amidst the normal storms of life. Allow me to share just a few practices that have helped me this year… and consider which ones (or others) you might be able to incorporate into your daily routine this coming season to help you through it 🙂 At dinner, have each person share something from their day that they are grateful for. Take a moment during the day to pause. Set an alarm or use a tool like the One Minute Pause App to spend 1-2 minutes during your day to just breathe! Practice Benevolent Detachment. Journal… I know it takes time, but just a few notes allows your soul space to reflect. Take one day (or one morning) a month to get away from the keyboard and get outside. Don’t watch the news (or limit your intake)... We all know that news that sells is mostly bad, but it expands your worries and concerns to things you cannot control. Spend time with your neighbors and those people around you… most people are pretty reasonable when you get to know them… not all, but most *grin.* Read a book that challenges your assumptions around resources. (e.g. I recently read “A Beautiful Constraint” by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden… which made me grateful even for constraints within my life/business as they provide motivation for creativity and a chance to embrace an abundance mindset,) [Insert your own - exercise, time outside, Yoga, meditation, listening to worship music in the morning, etc.] My friends… may you find ways to incorporate small amounts of gratitude and rest into your rhythms. I pray blessings over each of you as we head into this special season and especially as we head into December and reflect on how the God of the universe came to join us for a time (Talk about abundance of resources/creativity at our fingertips!)   May your journey in the next few months have moments of gratefulness and sweetness, even amidst the pain! ~Micah   To learn more about us and to sign up for our monthly newsletter packed with resources and updates, click here!
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The Mobilization Pipeline: Adapting to New Realities
  The mobilization pipeline in mission work refers to the process and strategies employed to recruit, train, send, and support missionaries. Traditionally, this pipeline has been a well-established route for prospective missionaries, guiding them from the initial call to missions through to their deployment and service in the field. However, in the contemporary context, there is a growing sense that this pipeline is undergoing significant changes, raising important questions for both the upcoming generation of potential missionaries and the organizations that facilitate missions. Before we start, we acknowledge that God is not limited in any way and can do amazing things within a group of people dedicated to following His call in their lives.  His Kingdom is not bound by culture, time, generational trends, or limited resources.  At the same time, many of our peers in this global endeavor are experiencing some shifts that are challenging us to ask better questions in hopes of aligning ourselves with where God is moving. With that in mind, let's delve deeper into the evolving landscape of the mobilization pipeline:   The Drying Springs: The Changing Face of Recruitment There is a widespread sense that the traditional avenues for mobilizing new missionaries are becoming less effective than in the past.  This might not be a “good” or “bad” thing, but might indicate a shift in how we recruit and prepare.  Here are just a couple of theories as to why this might be happening: Cultural Shifts: The upcoming generation often holds different values and expectations regarding career, calling, and lifestyle, which might not align with the traditional concept of lifelong missionary service.  Church philosophies are also shifting and in some cases are placing less emphasis on equipping people to go on long-term missions. Economic Challenges: Financial burdens, including student debt and rising living costs, can make the prospect of long-term missions daunting for younger individuals. Diverse Opportunities for Impact: Today’s generation is often acutely aware of the diverse ways they can make a significant impact without leaving their home country, leading to a broader view of what ‘mission’ can mean.   The Emerging Generations: Poised for Impact While there are challenges, the upcoming generations (GenZ and beyond) are uniquely positioned to contribute positively to mission work.  Some of the key elements of this include (but are not limited to): Global Awareness: Growing up in a connected world, they have an innate global awareness and multicultural sensitivity that previous generations had to learn. Adaptability and Innovation: This generation is often adept at adapting to change and leveraging technology and innovation in various aspects of life — traits that can be invaluable in modern mission work. Passion for Purposeful Work: Many young people are driven by a desire to engage in work that makes a tangible, positive difference in the world — a mindset that aligns with the core of mission work.   Challenges and Opportunities: A New Missionary Mindset The traditional values of “packing your coffin” and committing to lifelong service in a far-off land don’t resonate with many of today’s prospective missionaries. But this doesn't equate to a lack of commitment or willingness to sacrifice. Instead, it may signal a desire for a different kind of engagement: Short-Term and Specialized Missions: There is a growing interest in shorter, more focused mission engagements that leverage a person's unique skills and passions. Bi-Vocational Missions: The concept of combining a ‘secular’ career with mission work is increasingly popular, reflecting a holistic understanding of vocation and service. Local and Global Synergy: The new generation often sees the interconnectedness of local and global issues and may be drawn to models of missions that address systemic and global issues from both a local and an international perspective.   Reimagining the Pipeline Given these evolving realities, mission agencies and churches are faced with the crucial task of reimagining the mobilization pipeline: Flexible Models of Service: Creating pathways for service that allow for varied lengths of commitment and diverse roles could make missions more accessible to a broader range of individuals. Holistic Support Systems: Addressing the economic and psychological barriers to missions by offering robust support, including financial planning, mental health resources, and ongoing professional development. Intentional Discipleship and Mentoring: This one won’t be a surprise… as it’s always been key for success: Investing in relational, long-term discipleship and mentoring that prepares individuals holistically for the challenges of mission work, which we can’t forget while we shepherd the next generation into their God-ordained work, regardless of location. Finding Leadership Paths: Create feedback paths to learn from those already in your pipelines and recruit staff members in the generation you are trying to reach (and give them a leadership role).  While many organizations are decades, and in some cases centuries, old… ideas are not limited to those in any generation.  Intentionally engage your staff or bring in leaders to help shape your organization for the next 20-100 years.     Concluding Thoughts The changes in the mobilization pipeline represent both challenges and opportunities. While the traditional model may be under strain, the shifting landscape opens the door to new, potentially more effective and contextually relevant forms of mission engagement. This is an exciting opportunity to re-imagine sending within your own context.  Therefore, in this time of change, our prayer is that mission organizations and churches approach the task of mobilization with creativity, grace, and a deep-seated commitment to equipping the next generation of missionaries to participate in God’s work in the world in fresh and faithful ways. As Henry Blackaby once wrote, “For you to do the will of God, you must adjust your life to Him, His purposes, and His ways.”  May we be people who are constantly seeking God first and willing to ask hard questions or evaluate ourselves to align with where He is working.
Western Missions: Navigating a Changing Landscape
  As we continue to look at the tensions and the shift we sense in the world, I wanted to dive a bit deeper into this from a Western perspective.   In the context of missions and global outreach, a noticeable transformation is underway, particularly in Western churches and mission agencies. This shift is marked by a reevaluation of traditional strategies and a responsiveness to the new ways God appears to be working around the world. Below, we delve deeper into this evolving landscape and the factors contributing to this shift.   The Retreat and Reevaluation In the post-Covid world, a significant trend has been observed: many Western agencies have pulled back from various countries, sometimes entirely. This has several contributing factors, including: Health and Safety Concerns: The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it new layers of complexity related to health and safety that have forced many organizations to reconsider where and how they operate. Political and Social Instability: In an increasingly unstable global political landscape, some countries have become less hospitable to Western missionaries. Economic Constraints: Financial struggles due to the pandemic have caused many organizations to tighten their budgets, which has a direct impact on foreign missions. The Rise of Local Movements In contrast to this Western retreat, there is significant growth in local, indigenous movements, especially within countries that have traditionally been resistant or closed to Western influence. This is a change we should celebrate!  These movements are characterized by: Local Leadership: These movements are often led by individuals from within the community, who understand the culture and context deeply. Cultural Relevance: Because of its indigenous nature, locals are often more adept at communicating the gospel in ways that are culturally relevant and sensitive. Sustainability: Local movements are not dependent on foreign support and are often more sustainable in the long run. Access to Closed Countries: Local leaders often have access to regions that Western missionaries might find difficult to enter or work within due to various restrictions. Wrestling with New Roles As Western agencies observe this shift, they are grappling with several important questions: Partnership over Paternalism: How can Western churches and agencies move from a paternalistic model to a partnership model, coming alongside and supporting these indigenous movements rather than leading them? Resource Allocation: How can Western churches best use their resources (financial, educational, etc.) to empower and support these local movements? New Models of Engagement: What new, innovative models of engagement might be effective in this changing landscape? This might include short-term specialized teams, virtual training and discipleship, or business-as-mission strategies. Challenges in this Shift This change is not without its challenges for Western missions: Loss of Control: Moving to a partnership model often means relinquishing control, which can be challenging for organizations used to leading initiatives. Relearning and Unlearning: Western agencies might need to unlearn some longstanding practices and relearn how to operate within a different paradigm. Navigating Diverse Theologies and Practices: Partnering with indigenous movements might mean engaging with Christians who have different ways of understanding and practicing their faith. Real-World Example: As we challenge ourselves, consider some practices that might just be assumed within your organization.  One example that I’ve heard a few times is the requirement of full-time missionaries to be an employee of a US-based organization.  As Latin America and the Global South are rising in mobilization, take time to consider how you might adjust this practice in order to partner and help guide non-US based missionaries as they head into the field while wisely balancing the cost/benefit of doing so within your own organization. Concluding Thoughts The shifting landscape of Western missions is a poignant reminder that the work of God is not confined to any one culture or strategy. It seems clear that a significant part of the Western church’s role moving forward will be learning how to effectively and humbly partner with what God is already doing through local movements around the world. In this season of change, our prayer should be for Western missions to be marked by humility, a willingness to learn, and a steadfast commitment to unity and partnership in the furtherance of the Gospel. Would you join us in this prayer? Do you have other thoughts on this shift? We'd love to hear them in the comments.  
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Embracing Change: The Evolving Landscape of Mission Work
Navigating the Tensions of a Shifting Mission Field One of my favorite quotes is “Change is the only constant in life.” (Heraclitus 535 BC) Change is challenging, isn't it? If your instincts align with mine, you might find that you have a somewhat inherent resistance to change. Our human nature is often predisposed to avoid it and yet, change is a fundamental aspect of life. We like others to change more than ourselves, right? However, here lies the conundrum. In recent months, as we’ve had conversations with mobilizers and agencies, a recurring theme continues to emerge, suggesting we might be amidst a significant shift in missions. Knowing my own inclination to resist change, this notion both challenges and invigorates me, particularly as I learn more about how various organizations are thoughtfully adapting. Before we get too far, it’s worth acknowledging that numerous, insightful individuals are wrestling with this topic as well. Given the vast scope of the subject, I won't attempt to present a universal solution. Rather, I aim to highlight some of the tensions I’ve been hearing and experiencing in hope that this will invite you to engage as well—to question, reflect, and discern where God might be directing us.    I invite you to share your perspective or help draw attention to elements I may have overlooked. A Couple of Important Caveats: Firstly, these tensions in the realm of missions indicative of the complex nature of the realities we face. These are not binary choices or “either-or” scenarios. Rather, we are called to navigate the world, holding these tensions in balance, while wrestling with where God has called us, both as individuals and as part of a larger organization or tribe. Secondly, it is important to clarify that some of the following statements are generalized observations. They may not resonate universally across all cultures or communities. They are, however, reflective of the challenges and experiences regularly arising in our conversations, and thus, merit consideration. So let’s explore some of these emerging tensions below. Western Missions: A Change in Direction? Western churches appear to be shifting away from traditional methods of sending missionaries. In the post-Covid world, Western agencies have retracted from numerous countries. However, local movements within these countries are witnessing extraordinary growth and discipleship, especially in countries that are traditionally closed to Western influence. ​This duality raises a compelling question: Is the locus of Christian missions shifting? And if so, how do Western organizations fit into this new paradigm? The Mobilization Pipeline: Drying Up or Primed for Change? Traditional pipelines within mobilization are seemingly becoming less effective than before. Yet, the upcoming generation(s) seem uniquely poised to make a significant global impact. These young hearts yearn to enact meaningful change in the world, yet there seems to be a noted lack of resiliency within this generation. The notion of ‘packing up your coffin’ and committing one’s life to a singular mission in a foreign land appears to be waning. How do we reconcile this paradox, and what new forms of engagement might emerge? The Short-term Approach: A Shift in Focus? There appears to be a movement toward more intentional, focused missions—a 'scalpel' approach rather than a 'flashlight'. The good news is that it appears we are learning lessons from content like When Helping Hurts or Toxic Charity. ​However, as we hopefully navigate towards more sustainable and meaningful impact, does this bring its own set of challenges? What are the implications of this trend, and how does it affect the way missions are designed and executed? The Core of Our Identity: Mission or God? In our zeal to serve, there’s a profound question emerging: Has our identity become more intertwined with the mission rather than with God Himself? This is a sobering reflection for anyone involved in missions. It calls us back to the foundation of our faith and prompts us to continually evaluate where our true devotion lies. A Summary of these Shifts In sharing these tensions, this post is an invitation for all of us to grapple with the changes we perceive, to ask challenging questions, and to prayerfully seek God’s direction in this evolving landscape. After all, we are participants in God’s grand narrative, called to faithfully serve while continually adapting to the changing tides of our world.  Did we miss other tensions that you are facing?  Are there other perspectives or thoughts that you would like to share? Please join our conversations at Missions Made Simple as we would love to hear your thoughts and perspectives. And if you, by chance, have insights or have navigated these tensions successfully, please share your wisdom with us!   This is a space of exploration, and your voice matters. Let’s journey through these changes and uncertainties together, with open hearts and a steadfast faith.    
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The Journey Continues: 4 Keys to Keeping the Flame Alive After a Mission Trip
We all know that the days and weeks following a trip are brimming with potential.  Everyone is excited about what just happened and how they are changed by their experience.  However, whenever I ask how that energy is getting captured, focused, or shared, I hear a lot of organizations and churches say things like “Yeah, we really should do this,” but if we are being honest, this is very rarely enacted or done consistently across all teams.  Even within your teams, you will find that some teams or team leaders might do this well, while others completely ignore this critical step.   Why are we so inconsistent with this area if we know it’s a valuable part of the Mission Journey? In my experience, this topic is often overshadowed by the excitement and anticipation of the mission trip itself.  Unfortunately, without this key step, we miss an opportunity to cement life change and, I would argue, this results in short-circuiting the potential for discipleship and future engagement with those participants. We believe what happens after the trip is over is just as integral to the mission journey and a golden opportunity to deepen your impact, both personally and within the community.  Here are four ways to better understand our tensions in this area and create a culture within our organizations that stewards well the entire process, including the time after the trip is over. 1. Rethinking the Post-Trip Engagement: A Shift in Perception In the wake of a mission trip, many of us heave a sigh of relief, tempted to say, "Whew… it’s over.” Unfortunately, this mindset can lead us to overlook a critical stage of the journey: post-trip engagement. It's essential to resist viewing these gatherings as simply "nice to have" or as an afterthought. Instead, we must recognize that each trip isn't a standalone event but rather a crucial milestone in a person’s broader missional journey. By placing the trip within this larger narrative, we begin to grasp the importance of the return home and the subsequent communication about what transpired during their mission. What God has done in their lives during this time is a powerful story that needs to be shared and honored. Once you capture this larger perspective, it impacts your communication with your team.  By providing a reason why and being aware of your own mindset, you can communicate the importance more clearly and help establish the mindset that you want. Here’s an example of how you may express this mindset via email to your participants. It might sound like this: “Phew, you're back from your mission trip. Your suitcase may be empty, but your heart's likely full. Now, it's tempting to breathe a sigh of relief and think, ‘All done. The trip's over.’ But wait! There's one crucial part of the journey we often overlook: the post-trip get-togethers. Let's break the mold and think of these meetings not as an ‘oh-by-the-way’ kind of thing or even just a reunion, but as a significant part of the overall mission. Why? Because a mission trip isn't a one-off. It's a stepping stone on a bigger, beautiful journey. It's a chapter in your unique story of how you're making a difference in the world… and how those moments made a difference in you that you hope to continue to cultivate. So, don't rush to close the book on this chapter. Savor it, share it, and let's talk about what God's been up to in your life.” 2. Setting Expectations Before the Trip: The Power of Preparation The groundwork for effective post-trip engagement begins even before departure. Ensure that your team understands the expectation for participation in the form of a debrief meeting upon their return. This sets the stage for open communication and active engagement. If anyone misses this meeting, a follow-up should be arranged to communicate the importance of this step, preparing them better for future missions. By setting these clear expectations and being proactive in your follow-through, you facilitate an environment where individuals feel more involved, heard, and integral to the mission's success.  Additionally, you set yourself up for success in the following years.  Think of this as a “line in the sand” moment and by establishing and enforcing expectations over the next couple of sending seasons, you will start to see incredible results. 3. In-Country Debrief: Harnessing Immediate Reflections Engaging your participants effectively in their experience of the trip shouldn’t begin once you're home. We believe it should begin while you're still in the field. Encourage your leaders to facilitate a debriefing session regularly, or at least soon before your return home. This simple yet impactful practice presses for the participation of everyone and primes the team for more in-depth conversations when they return home. Open-ended questions such as, "What was one highlight that encapsulates our time here?" and "What personal challenge, mindset shift, or behavior change did you face during this mission?" can stimulate thoughtful responses. As you wait for your return flight, encourage participants to summarize their experiences into a two-minute account and jot it down on a notecard. On the route home, they can expand this into a detailed journal entry, documenting three key take-aways that profoundly impacted their lives, perspectives, or missional journey. 4. Using Their Experience as a Call to Action: Spreading the Missional Flame Back home, the participants' experiences can be a powerful catalyst for drawing others into their journey or alongside your organizational mission.  Sharing your stories can inspire others to embark on their own journeys, and maybe even join you on your next adventure!  Therefore, encourage participants to share their stories and make it easy for them to do so. Pro Tip: Find a way to capture those stories, the lessons, and the examples of life change that occurred in your debrief.  These details will touch the hearts of your donor base, encourage future participants, and help others feel the impact that was made by the team.   Make it easy for your participants to share information about your organization, field partner, or church. As a small example, as your participants have conversations, you can encourage them to connect those people with your social media. This additional engagement not only grows your potential participant pool but also allows for continual dialogue about missions, further fostering a vibrant community that is engaged, inspired, and ready for more missional opportunities.   The mission trip might be over, but its ripple effects are just starting.  It’s an ongoing journey of growth, sharing, and inspiration.  So let’s keep the conversation going and continue making a difference together.     What have you found effective in post-trip debriefs?  How have you leveraged the stories and insights to improve in your next season? For 14 quick tips on running a successful post-trip debrief, check out our quick guide here.  
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip 7: Prepare for Relaunch
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip #7 - Prepare for Relaunch Big Picture: Your relaunch will communicate a lot to your audience. Was it Ben Franklin that said, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.”? I’m not sure, but the quote is awesome! In many ways, this season has given us time to rethink many things about our mission programs. Regardless, you should be taking time this season to retool how you do things and how you’re going to relaunch. This is such a great time to rework so many of those things you haven’t gotten to but have wanted to for such a long time. Here are a few areas you might consider for assessment as you prepare for a relaunch. Participant Experience - what is the overall experience your participants have with your organization? How could it be improved? What’s missing? Partnership - how could you better your partnership with other organizations? What is missing? What could help set you both up for greater success? Application - how well built is your event application? Could it use a revision and critique? Team Leader Training - How well do you train your team leaders? How could you be training them this season? Trip Promotions - What materials do you have to promote your trips? What materials do you have to announce your relaunch (when it happens)? Team Preparation - How could you better your process for training trip participants? What could you learn in this season from your alumni? Communications - What does your overall communication strategy look like for participants? How could that be refined, rebuilt, and refocused? Automated Systems - What tools are you using to run your short term trips? Are they serving your needs? Could something do that better? Task Management - Have you mapped out all the tasks that go into managing a single short term trip into a standard process? Could this be streamlined? Post Trip Engagement - How do you engage people once they get back from a trip? How could you keep people engaged better?   Download the full FREE ebook Today
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip 6: Lift Up Partners
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip #6 - Lift Up Partners Big Picture: Partners are critical to the success of missional engagement - use this season to help shine a light on them. Partners often get taken for granted in our web of missional engagement. We work so closely with them and our people know them so well that we often forget to take a step back and really focus on helping others learn about them. This is a great season to tell their story and help educate your audience about these amazing partners. Here are a few ideas. Find Out Their Needs - reach out to your partners during this season and ask about their needs during this time. That’s partnership right?! Reach out to ask about their needs and to see if there’s some way you could support those needs. Host a Webinar - schedule a webinar with each of your partners and invite all of your members to attend. It’s good to give these some structure (ex: start with prayer, ask a few set questions, etc.). This is a great way to introduce your audience to your partners. Share Ways to Engage: either through email, webinar, or any other vehicle... find ways to share their partner needs and let people know how they can engage with that partner. You don’t have to be the middleman all the time... help connect your audience directly with your partner for more updates. Prayer Teams - consider creating prayer teams for each of your partners that commit to meeting each week and praying for your partners. These teams can be such an encouragement to both your organization and your partner. Interview Your Partners - make time to connect with your partner for an interview and go through a series of questions. You can take those questions and turn them into a partner focus page on your website or a great blog entry. Retool Your Partner Webpages - take a look at your website and where you feature partners. Perhaps you could do a better job telling the story of each partner, why you partner, and how you go about partnering with other organizations. Use this season to bring special attention to your partners and build up the resources to more clearly explain who it is you partner with and why. This is a great season to bring a lot of clarity to your wonderful partnerships.   Download the full FREE ebook Today
The Roadmap to Relaunch
The Roadmap to Relaunch Making the decision to start back into global engagement, especially with short term trips, is enough of a decision on its own.  Now it’s time to consider all the logistics for relaunching a short-term trip program.  Yes, this is very much like returning to the gym after not exercising for some time.  Short-term trip logistics is a finely tuned and highly skilled muscle that many of us have not exercised for some time.  That’s all about to change.  Think of this ebook as your warmup stretch for what’s about to come.     Step 1 - Evaluation, Surveys, and Research The first step in relaunch is making sure you have all the data.  It’s time to be listening well to everyone to know the lay of the land and to have your ducks in a row as you start to relaunch.  Here are some suggestions:   Research Logistics of Travel - stay on top of what the US State Department is saying about the global landscape and specific countries.  It’s their responsibility to assess the global situations and bring you accurate and useful data.  Lean into their resources and stay up to date with their news.  Even staying on top of things will help you see trends and begin anticipating changes.   Connect with Team Leaders - leverage the amazing people you have who have lead teams before.  Gather them together to learn from their input, ideas, and concerns.  And when you do gather them… be intentional to actually ask their thoughts and not make it an information meeting.  You’re going to need their buy-in for this relaunch.   Survey Alumni - reach out to anyone who has served with you before and ask them their concerns and learn from what it would take for them to travel and participate in a short-term trip again.  Yes, many of these factors are out of your hands but building a list can help you either mitigate the concern or directly address how best to attack it.  It’s also another great touchpoint to make sure people know you’re still working to re-engage. Create Indirect Surveys - you may not want to come straight out and ask how people are feeling about reengaging.  That’s okay. It some ways it feels like poor leadership to ask your constituents what they think you should be doing.  I can see that.  So get creative!  We had one organization create a tool simply asking people where they would like to go and serve and place it on a world map and noting why they were interested in serving there.  It’s indirect but still keeps people interested and showing their propensity for global mission work. Build a Decision Matrix - build an internal grading system to help you determine risk factors for short-term trips.  Essentially, map out all of your concerns or requirements, build a scoring system, and then evaluate based on the score.  For example, you might have 10 factors and each factor has a 5 point scale.  From that, you’re looking for a 36 or higher score to relaunch to that location.  You should also educate your members on how you are making this decision and even sharing your core evaluation factors.  Remember they are looking to you for leadership.   Map it All Out - take everything you’re learning from all these forms of feedback and map it all out.  Give a huge whiteboard and a bunch of sticky notes to chart out challenges, opportunities, things that need clarity, concerns to overcome, ways to re-engage that help ease tensions, and more.  This will help you build your overall plan and communication strategy for what’s next.   Step 2 - Map Out a Timeline & Tasks Now it’s time to start building out your tactical strategy.  The focus here is to create your roadmap for kicking things back into gear.  You haven’t just made a quick pit stop during this season, your vehicle has been hibernating for a little while.  And hey, this is a great opportunity to see just how you might improve your overall process!   Brainstorm the Tasks - Gather all the right people together to map out the tasks ahead of you for this relaunch.  Think about travel, communications, partner logistics, fieldwork, training, finances, legal forms, team leader preparation, meetings, and anything else that might fall into the logistics bucket.  Basically, you are re-mapping all the common tasks to run short-term trips but you’re adding the spin of starting from a cold start.   Categorize Tasks - once you’ve built this awesome list of tasks, let’s take those and break those into categories and time blocks.  It’s good to categorize as you might assign all financial tasks to a certain person.  It’s also good to break into time blocks to help see when these tasks need to happen.   Build a Workback Schedule - now lets take all of this and create a spreadsheet or some tool to drop in our trip date that automatically populates all work back dates.  This spreadsheet gives you a tool to quickly see when things should be done no matter when the trip might occur.       Step 3 - Build a Communication Plan Your communication strategy is just as important if not more important than your tactical plan.  This is where and how you communicate everything moving forward and it needs your intentionality and focus.  Let’s unpack a few of the most critical pieces of your communication plan.     Know Your Controlling Message - it all starts with an overarching controlling message that weaves through all of your communications.  That might be something like “Venturing Out & Staying Safe” if your main point to communicate is a re-engagement and keeping people safe.  Regardless, you just need a controlling message.   Brainstorm the Messages - get together with your team to brainstorm the messages, the time frame, the needs, the questions, and the delivery methods.  It’s important to lean into others for this stage so you get help seeing the gaps you’re missing.   Build a Timeline - this doesn’t have to be anything complicated but you need to create a timeline for your communications to rollout.  This timeline should be months long and incorporate things like the key kickoff, the lead up to that kickoff, teaching moments, capturing stories around the launch teams, and celebrating their successes.   Write Everything - yeah, crazy goal right?!  Trust me in this… just dedicate a day or two and write all of your communications at once.  It’s going to help you get it all done while also keeping your mind engaged to see the overall negative at play.  Doing this all at once helps you see this as one consistent campaign.   Distribution Channels - map out all of your distribution channels (email, newsletters, social media, blog, videos, etc.) and then see how each message should be delivered via each channel.  Pro tip… don’t create new messaging for each channel, just maximize one key message customized for each channel.   Automate Everything - once you’ve written everything down and it’s ready to go… load it to tools like MailChimp, Loomly, HubSpot, or ServiceReef to automate the distribution of your messages at this given times.     Step 4 - Pull the Trigger Now you’ve got all of your building blocks in place - it’s time to pull the trigger and let things roll.  You’ve done the hard work of building your timelines and loading the resources.  Let the systems work for you so you can tackle all the necessary tasks that await you in this relaunch season.     Download full FREE ebook: Relaunching Short Term Trips Post COVID
Can't Send Short Term Trips: Tip 5: Share Stories
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip #5 - Share Stories Big Picture: Stories are powerful and they are what people remember... share them well and often! Sharing a story well brings glory to God. Stories are powerful things... many refer to stories as the language of the heart. I think we can all relate to hearing someone share some life experiences and all we walk away with are the stories they shared. Stories just work like that. They become anchors for us to recall purpose and meaning. Well, this is one prime season for you to be capturing and sharing stories! As you work on how you engage your audience during this season, focus your messages around certain stories. We recommend you consider making 80% or more of your messaging focused around your stories. Let’s unpack a few ideas for how to do this well. Ask for Stories - this is a great season to reach out to past participants AND your partners to ask for stories about what’s happened in the past so you can intentionally share about the shared impact you are having. Then & Now - capture stories from the past but also from what’s happening around us right now. Remember you want to keep the fire alive for your global work but also you’re shifting to engaging local as well. Balance these two perspectives. Participants & Partners - it’s great to share stories from both the perspective of your trip participants but also your partners. Both can share impact, lessons learned, and invite others into similar experiences. Give Direction - it’s not just asking people to share stories, it’s also giving them direction on how. Consider giving them some examples, ideal length, and key questions to cover in their story. Pictures - it’s always better to tie a story with a picture so people can feel even more like they are there with the person in that story and experiencing things with them. Pictures also help bring greater visual appeal to the reader. Create a Story Blog - use tools like ServiceReef to build a combined story blog from all of your stories so these populate in one place for people to read. A story blog can be a powerful way for people to explore on their own. Drip Stories - incorporate these into your communication strategy and create some drip schedule (ex: every other week’s stories) to your members. Of course, it’s more information to receive but it’s also encouraging news   Download the full FREE ebook Today
Diversifying Engagement Pathways
Diversifying Engagement Pathways Pre-COVID kept many engagements in missions very unilateral… a great deal of short term trip engagement.  The pandemic quickly slammed the breaks on international travel and much of global mission work.  Post-COVID will release a variety of pathways to engage creating more opportunities for involvement, more systems to be created, and more able to use new and different skills.  Let’s explore just a few paths that are soon emerging.     Physical Short Term Trips The first pathway is exactly what we all know and expect to relaunch soon, even if it’s a little slow to prime the pump again.  Short term trips are almost a hallmark now in the way mission work comes out from North America.  We can debate if short term trips are good or not but the fact is there’s a huge engine called short term trips and our real duty is to focus on doing them well. No doubt short term trips will quickly re-emerge as we move out of the COVID-19 fog.   Virtual Engagement COVID-19 has also brought about true innovations in global engagement via Zoom, creating digital resources, training programs, and much more.  This has been steroid shot for missions in many ways to give mission folk a nice swift kick to join the modern age.  We’ve witnessed some amazing creativity and intentionality to keep engagement strong during this season and we don’t expect that to cease.     Local Engagement The lock-down has also allowed many organizations to focus energies on the needs directly around them.  Not to mention, many global communities have come to our doorstep as the past two decades have had such unprecedented migration and relocation of people.  I believe the strongest organizations are the ones that realize the needs in their own backyard and make that part of their overall strategy… often directly serving the same people groups they fly around the world to engage on short term trips.     Hybrid Engagement The final pathway is some combination of the three above.  Think of this as your investment portfolio and how we’re all taught to diversify your assets.  Finding some balance of these three pathways is probably what’s most wise for all of us and should be highly considered as we build our strategic plans for the future.  Even if we consider the potential of another lockdown like COVID-19, if we have a three-part strategy in place then it essentially only highly restricts one pathway (short term trips) but it keeps our people engage plus we’ve already built strategies to continue supporting and serving our global partners.     Download full FREE ebook: Relaunching Short Term Trips Post COVID
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip 4: Shift to Local
Can't Send Short Term Trips? Tip #4 - Shift To Local Big Picture: You must give people the opportunity to serve wherever they are... but soon! Many times we don’t think of missions as something that’s local. We won’t dive into that whole discussion... I’m just going to move right into an assumption that we need to shift into being hands and feet right here around us. Our belief is that missional living should be a way of life and something you’re doing overseas and right here at home. This season just gives us the opportunity to focus well on local engagement. So a really quick refocus here... we’re trying to keep our people engaged. Our big picture goal is to engage people in missional living but right now we can’t travel overseas. We’re shifting that energy, even if our entire organization is focused globally, to something local, if even just for a season. Here’s why this is so important. You are a guide for these people and they have trusted you to help them explore how to use their talents and where to use their giftings to serve others. Remember your role and jump in with both feet as their great guide. They need you. There is a thirst in their heart to serve and you have a great opportunity right now to connect that thirst with a chance to give of themselves. Here are some tips to make this happen: Research - finding local opportunities isn’t that difficult when you start digging a little. Start with a general search online for ways to serve locally but then reach out to known organizations and churches to learn more. Promote - be an advocate for serving local and make sure you’re advocating this to your audience. It’s good for them to hear your voice (like we talked about earlier) and to stay the role of the guide through this process. Organize - the icing on the cake is when you can host and run your own local serving events. These are great ways to keep your entire audience engaged but also great for specific teams to focus them on an activity that helps build that team. Stepping Stone - continually remind your team leaders and volunteers that every single serving opportunity is a stepping stone to the next one and there’s very little difference in what they are doing right here at home and what they will do soon overseas. Live Generously - help guide people to living generously. Sometimes you simply can’t serve locally but there are other ways you can give. Help people know all the ways they can participate in serving their local community. Consider Anxiety Levels - everyone has their own level of comfort and even anxiety around the world today. Take into consideration the level of comfort of your people and build opportunities for various perspectives.   Download the full FREE ebook Today