In my last post, I described a couple of strategic discussions GFM staff would be having on our annual staff retreat. Here is the current result of the questions we asked and the subsequent discussions:
How can GFM more effectively disciple those who are part of our body?
We’re not making any large shifts in response to this question, but some positive incremental changes are taking place. Most significantly, our staff has a greater focus this year on the need for good discipleship in the context of relationships. I think we are gradually realizing that programs don’t necessarily produce good disciples, discipleship does. This doesn’t mean that programs can’t produce good disciples, but in order to do so they must incorporate effective relational discipleship.
In the long run, we would like to see every person who is a student, staff member, or apprentice with GFM being discipled in a one-on-one relationship with someone else. This is difficult for us right now, because some of those who would be good disciplers are tied up with other responsibilities (such as learning Spanish), and we are stretched thin overall. For this year, we figured out who is available to disciple others, and then we encouraged each staff member and apprentice to 1) seek out a relationship with someone who will commit to discipling them and/or 2) to set up a regular accountability group with two or three people. We have all done this, and the result is that far more focused discipleship will be taking place this year.
What should be the relationship between the long-term (church planting) and the short-term (mission trips, summer internships, etc.) work?
The outcome of this discussion was interesting. We are now realizing that, with our current strategy, it’s difficult for every mission trip we host to significantly augment the long-term church planting work. Mission trip outreaches in our town are able to serve people in practical ways and help the image of our Mexican non-profit organization, but we are worried that hosting so many trips in our town could also begin to hurt the work due to the presence of so many foreigners year after year. Mission trip outreaches here are able to make new contacts for our church planting team (CPT), but we are also seeing that our CPT is really busy with the relationships they already have and not able to effectively follow up on very many new contacts.
What we are now going to try and do is let the church planting work play a greater role in deciding what outreaches happen on mission trips. If the CPT says a certain outreach in our town would help them, that’s what the mission trip team will do. If CPT doesn’t really need anything at the time of the outreach, then we will take the mission trip team to a village in our area, rather than increasing the foreign presence in our town without providing a definite benefit to the church planting work. We love exposing people to mission work through mission trips, and in the villages they will be able to serve in practical ways while having a more neutral impact on the long-term work. We have plenty of experience taking mission trip teams to villages, because for years that’s always what we did with them. We find that some mission trip teams are happy to serve GFM by helping out with different projects at our base, so we are planning on making that more of an option as well.
Here are the different types of mission trips that may now happen with GFM:
- CPT asks for an outreach in our town, so the mission trip team digs a well or puts on a medical clinic or teaches an English class or does anything that the CPT requests.
- The team goes out to a village and coordinates with the government to provide some kind of service there. Such outreaches could include things like providing a medical clinic, teaching an English class, or putting on a community health program for kids. Though it is no secret we are Christians, these outreaches would be done under the name of our Mexican non-profit organization, rather than under the name of a church or mission group.
- The team goes out to a village and comes under the authority of a Christian church there, serving them in any way they request.
- The team stays at our GFM base and helps out with any work projects we may have going on at the time.
As always, all mission trips will continue to include two days of training at our base on the front end of the trip, and a debrief day at the end of the trip. We hope these new options will allow us to continue to expose people to mission work among the least-reached, while also more effectively serving the needs of the long-term work.