You’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.
• 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