5 Stars Out Of 5
Best Resource for STM
June 20, 2013
I originally saw this book when a leader of mine used some things from it during a missions trip I was part of a couple of years ago. Since I've been co-leading a trip this year for some youth from our church, I searched around for various books, but I kept coming back to this one.
This book really hits the mark for me. It asks the hard questions of whether we're really making a difference, in both our students and our world--troubling questions that have surfaced from research as short-term missions have exploded over the past few decades. It does not come from an assumption that all missions trips are wonderful and are helping so many people, but rather from an honest perspective that there are real questions we should be asking about how we approach STM.
"As we come to terms with the bad news that our service is more superficial than we would hope, we're all eager for tools that help us make a deeper impact on our kids and our world."
And this is what this book dives into. It begins with some chapters about some best practices for leaders as we walk through this journey with our students or teams. It also has chapters on engaging both parents and the rest of the church (we used 1 idea for engaging our church this year that has gone great--simply, to have members of the church body sign up to pray for 1 student while they are on their trip--it was simple yet effective to get more of the body connected).
It then delves into 3 sections: before (framing), during (experience and reflection), after (initial debrief, followed by ongoing transformation). Within each of these are various activities and discussions to lead your group through, focused on the team, individual relationships with God, and cross-cultural topics.
All of these topics and activities came from both research and leadership summits with experienced leaders. They asked tough questions: How can our service work be part of God's kingdom justice? How do we move service beyond spiritual tourism? What are the most important theological threads that should weave their way through our service? How can we move beyond rhetoric to true partnership with those we're serving? Through that, they came up with activities/discussions that were field tested by youth leaders and their students, then revised and compiled into this wonderful resource.
Hands down, I recommend this book to anyone planning and leading a short term missions trip, even if you're going with a larger organization. It has the flexibility to allow you to choose which activities fit your group the best and what you feel the need to focus on (it's not intended for you to do all of them).