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Get a Mission Trip Mentor

Short-Term Missions for the Long Haul

By Brian J. Heerwagen

Short-term missions should have lifelong impact. Believing this and doing something about it are two different things, though. So what is it that changes a short-term mission from a “mountain-top experience” to a “disciple experience”?

One of the best things you can do to extend the impact of your mission trip is to get a mentor. Each and every person, young and old, will be blessed and challenged by having a mentor. It is your responsibility to select a mentor. The following information about roles and qualifications will help you in choosing a mentor. You should get going on this as soon as possible.

What Is a Mentor?

One of the high school leaders at a church met with the church’s elder board, sharing that the young men in the youth group were looking for mentors. After his excellent presentation, one of the older men on the board replied, “But we’re not qualified. We don’t know how to mentor.”

The young man responded, “Just take us to a ball game, pray with us, ask us if we’ve been in the Word. Be there for us if we need you, do things with us that you normally do. Ask us to help around your house. Your life is already a teacher to us. Just be yourself. That is the kind of mentor we are looking for.”

In other words, it is not required that mentors be Bible scholars, teachers, or even leaders. They just need to live their lives in the presence of another and be intentional about that relationship.

Why Have a Mentor?

Everyone needs accountability, someone to listen to them, someone to encourage and admonish them. A mentor can come alongside for personal attention and to walk through the transition from life before a short-term mission to a continually changing life after the ministry.

How Do You Choose a Mentor?

You should seek out someone you respect, who you are willing to spend time with, and who is willing to spend time with you. A mentor should demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • A person of prayer
  • A person of integrity (if they say they will pray, they mean it)
  • A faithful servant in the church
  • A person who will commit to at least two months of ministry

You can meet at a coffee shop, a park, a ball game, or in the car. You can meet together as many times as you are able. It doesn’t matter where or when. Remember, at the heart of mentoring is friendship, accountability, and encouragement. So make sure that you and your mentor have a great time whatever you choose to do!