Recently I got back from visiting another L’Arche community in Warsaw Poland. It was an amazing experience (which I will write about in another blog). Although this was likely not totally a “mission trip” in some ways I feel it was, and it reminded me of being in university in a youth ministry course where we were taught the worst question to ask a teen coming back from a short-term missions trip is “how was your trip?” The teen has too many ideas in their mind and they aren’t even sure where to begin, so it either ends in a short “awesome” or a long deluge of too-much-information.
Thus, I have been giving some thought to this issue and have come up with 10 alternative questions you can ask someone after a mission’s trip rather than simply how it was:
1) How did you sense the presence of God when you were away?
2) How did this trip help grow and deepen your own spirituality?
3) Is there anything you saw, did or experienced that you would like to try here (or that would benefit us – as a church, parachurch organization, family, etc)
4) What surprised you the most?
5) Is there anything that you were unprepared for?
6) How has this trip grown your awareness of poverty, social justice, inclusion, etc?
7) Say something about the culture/local people of whom you were apart/who you spent time with?
8) Has this trip ignited any new passions? Do you feel it will somehow influence your future direction and goals? (eg. if the youth is sensing a call to missions and wants to try out a short term opportunity before committing longer term. Or if the youth felt a call to a specific country – did actually going there open or close any doors?)
9) How do you plan to share this experience? (Eg. give a testimony at church, write a blog, share experiences on social media, etc)
10) Is there anything you need from us (as a church/parachurch) organization to help you process your experience more fully?