Short-Term Missions: Communication!

hand, writing, pen, Angoulême


11/30

Welcome to day 11 of
30Days-30Pics: Defining Short-Term Missions.

Your STM journey, in many ways, begins and ends with good communication and while there are many possibilities open to you you need not be overwhelmed by the choice. Pick a couple that you’re good at and be consistent.

Communicate, communicate, communicate!


Photo:

If it wasn’t so cool, it might be a little creepy.

I was walking with a friend through the city of Angoulême, in western France. Angoulême is home to one of the French-speaking world’s most well-known comic book festivals (the hard-covered kind) and my cartoonist friend was an exhibitor.

Walking just below the ramparts of the hill-top city we came across a park with this dis-embodied hand… writing in the grass, at the edge of a small pond.


 

There was a time missions communication involved handwriting or typing the news you wanted to share and literally cutting & pasting a few bits of clip art to make it visually appealing. You’d photocopy a master and bam! … all ready to mail!

We’ve come a long way in terms of the what, but the why remains the same:

You need to be a good communicator, for at least two good reasons:

  1. Before going, you need to be able to communicate your vision to people who will invest in you – prayerfully, financially or perhaps with in-kind gifts.
  2. While away, you need to maintain contact with donors and supporters because…
    • they deserve to know how their investment is accomplishing its expressed or implied goals.
    • they likely have a number of options for charitable giving… if you “drop of the face of the earth” … their support could go elsewhere.

Depending on the length of your trip, your methods need to be prioritized differently:

  • 7-day to 2-month trips are likely sufficiently covered with regular social media updates. This allows for lots of pinging-in … touching base in quick interactions that won’t demand too much time on your part. Most social media is also very visually based so photos & videos can be shared virtually in real time.
  • 1 year or longer trips really need something a bit more organized in addition to social media presence. I’d suggest you consider one of two things…. either:
    1. A Blog or a Facebook fan page: Both of these give you a place that’s separate from the ongoing personal interactions that will be on your regular profiles. You can customize the look and present ongoing reporting of your activities & accomplishments.
    2. An email service such as MailChimp: Services like MailChimp allow you to build & maintain an email list of subscribers as well as customize graphic-rich emails that will be visually appealing and informative at the same time.

Remember that we are increasingly visually-oriented so your updates will be more accessible to supporters if they include lots of visuals. Photos are a given, but more and more, video content is a communication vehicle of choice. Supporters will see you in your surroundings and hear your voice. You come alive to them!

Also… the standard for video has changed dramatically meaning that you no longer need to record in a studio. A reasonably steady cell-phone video will do the trick. If you can get a small lav mic to improve audio even better (although it’s not essential).

Communication is key to your short-term missions involvement. I spend a whole chapter on this in my book “Short-Term Missions Success: Defining Moments Toward Long-Term Growth“, available on Amazon.

God bless you as you communicate effectively while serving in Short-Term Missions.

 

 

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