How to draw great stories from short-termers

pliersYou’ve probably been on both sides of this scenario. A person returns from a cross-cultural learning and ministry experience.

“Welcome back! How was your trip?”

“Great! It was fantastic. I had an amazing time.”

[Smiles, nods; conversation fizzles.]

Maybe we get disappointing answers because we aren’t asking the best questions.

Here are some sample approaches to draw out better  stories from your recently returned short-term  missionaries.

And those who have gone can give answers to these questions whether asked or not.


Photo: MB Mission


• Who was the most interesting person you met?

• What were the strengths of working with a team? What were the challenges?

• Tell me about the people with whom you served.


• How did this experience deepen your passion for the ministries God has gifted you?

• What commitments did you make?

• What tools or practices were helpful in your preparation to go?

• How can we (church, small group, family) support you to continue to grow through this  experience?

• What temptations did you experience?


• What was the highest/lowest point?

• What is one thing you are “bringing home” with you?

• What did you find most remarkable/different/surprising about the culture or the church there?

• How has your perspective on the church changed through this experience?

• Where did you witness God’s miraculous intervention?

• How did you lift high Jesus’ name?

• How did God use you to further his kingdom?

• How will you live differently now after what you’ve experienced?

A cross-cultural experience’s value is not only what the goer accomplishes on the field, but the work God does in his or her heart – and that work continues long after the volunteer returns home. The sending church can participate in these benefits by engaging short-term service learning workers with good questions upon return.

—Karla Braun with files from Lloyd & Carol Letkeman, MB Mission Central Canada

One Comment on “How to draw great stories from short-termers

  1. Great questions to help unpack a short-term service & learning trip! I’m taking a group of my youth & young adults to Haiti this summer to visit a school & church we’ve been partnering with. These questions will come in handy to help us share our experiences with our greater church family!

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