Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Mission (Issue 28)

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At the end of a trip, one of the students uttered the words every leader hopes to hear: “This was the best short-term mission experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a bunch.” I’ve led my fair share of teams, so what made this one so good? Was it my amazing, charismatic leadership? … Actually, no! Perhaps ironically, it’s because we didn’t follow the typical approaches for short-term mission trips.

In many cases, short-term teams want to maximize the opportunity by visiting as many places, people and projects as they can. Instead, we decided to stay in one location and work with one church. And typically, short-term teams pack as much into the schedule as possible. In our case, it wasn’t long before our contact ran out of things for us to do! He’d even dismiss the team after morning Bible studies, telling us to “just take rest today.” We were in a bustling South Asian city, so once the contact left I’d whisper to the team: “we’re not taking rest today.” Instead we’d break into groups, ask God what we should do, and then go do it. We’d end up encountering new people, finding and meeting needs, and sharing life with various folk. It’s hard to summarise just how fruitful this actually was!

So why did my student think this was the best mission experience he’d had? “Because what we’ve done here is precisely what we can do back home.” Normally we run around doing so much, meaning there’s no way we can replicate it in our normal lives. But here, we were integrating mission and regular life. We were learning how to be open to the opportunities God was opening up in front of us.


This experience left me wondering: are there approaches and models for short-term teams that will help people integrate what they learn into their ‘normal lives.’ I’m not interested in people creating nice memories. There needs to be something of ongoing value from the experience for both the team and those we’re seeking to serve. How can we be making disciples (Matthew 28:19) not just good trips?

Many short-term teams go out with very little solid training – but good intentions are simply not enough! Helping Without Hurting in Short-Term Missions (Moody Publishers, 2014) is a new biblically grounded training package designed to help short-term teams prepare, process and maximise their experience. It also helps teams avoid attitudes and practices that actually harm the communities we’re seeking to bless. Though it focuses on teams going to poorer communities, we think it’s beneficial for almost any team crossing cultures.

It’s made up of eight 90 minute sessions that include reflections, discussion questions and short video teachings. Each team member receives a Participants Guide to help them process all they’re learning, and the Leader’s Guide is designed to give the team leader(s) all they need to know to facilitate the training, preparation and debrief. We hope this package will assist many Kiwis put together, implement and process short-term mission encounters.

If you’re interested in finding out more or discussing your ideas for a short-term Encounter Team experience with NZCMS, email


For discussion

In what ways do teams need to prepare and train well – whether for a cross-cultural trip or local mission?

If you want to explore in your small group how these concepts apply to local (and global) mission, I can’t recommend enough the free online video series ‘Helping Without Hurting’


Exploring today’s missional issues from a variety of angles, each edition of the Intermission magazine will equip you and your group to engage with God in your community and beyond. To signup to receive the Intermission in the post, email Intermission articles can also be found online at

A book Out From St Martin’s

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By Stewart Entwistle. 

Why is it that the stories of missionaries (or Mission Partners) seem to have been written a hundred years ago, involving people in countries we’re unlikely to ever visit, and makes them seem to be super spiritual or other worldly?

Does anyone ever write anything about anyone who you could have heard of, could have met at your local church, and is really just like other people in the fellowship? Well yes they do – but not all that often!

But just recently a book was launched at the morning service at St Martin’s Anglican Church (Spreydon, Christchurch) which actually fits those criteria. Out from St Martin’s contains sixty two stories from people who have been associated with that church in one way or another, who have followed the leading of God to serve overseas. Yes, some of the authors are oldies, but all are ordinary Kiwis. It is interesting to note, that from a NZCMS point of view 37 of the stories are of those who served within the fellowship. Bishop Brain Carrell described a particular time when the Rev Roger Thompson was Vicar, “As a Crucible for Christian Commitment”.

There are short-termers who served for a few months, and long-termers who gave a lifetime of service, each telling their unique story of how God equipped, sustained and protected them during that service.

Nicky Gumbell, the founder of the famous Alpha Course, wrote “We all have a story to tell. Every family has stories. Every church has its own story of what God has done. Every Christian has a story – a testimony. All of us have access to the great story of what God has done in Christ”.

What will your story be like? Is it going be like the sixty two recorded in this book? Will it include time spent serving in cross-cultural mission, whether in New Zealand or overseas?

By the way the book is an easy read, inspirational and challenging!


Copies may be ordered by emailing or writing to: Lyn Smith, 49 Wyn Street, Hoon Hay, Christchurch 8025.  Cost: only $25 per copy (plus P&P: $5 for 1–2 copies).

Making God relevant for Kiwis

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The Christchurch Press recently wrote a story about Ron Hay’s book Finding the Forgotten God. Below is a short excerpt from the news story by Philip Matthews.

Of all the people you should never lie to, an Anglican minister would be high up the list. But is this lying, really? Or is it just not quite telling the truth?

The Anglican minister is Ron Hay and he has been phoned by The Press at his home at Castle Hill, North Canterbury, because he has won a Mind Body Spirit Literary award, worth $10,000. Only he doesn’t know that yet.

Or maybe he does know and he’s playing along too, even when he cheerfully says things like: “You never know what your chances are in a situation like this”.

Officially, at the time of phoning, he is just one of five contenders for the award, handed out annually by the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust for books on spiritual matters. An equivalent prize goes to unpublished manuscripts.

The media has the good news under embargo, provided we can keep the secret. And the secret is that Hay won at an award ceremony in Auckland last night,   all going to plan.

Some readers may already know him: Hay was the vicar at Sumner-Redcliffs for 15 years before he took early retirement in 2009, in order to write. His first book, Finding the Forgotten God, is the result.

To read more of the Press article click here. For more about Finding  the Forgotten God click here. And a big congratulations goes to Ron for winning the award!

New Zealand Myths and Realities with Keith Newman (DVD)

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Contemporary retellings of the New Zealand story often side-line the role of missionaries and the Church. But can God and his Gospel be ignored?

On this DVD Keith Newman tackles various myths related to our national narrative. Were the early missionaries really in it for themselves? Did mission destroy Maori culture? Were Europeans the ones that spread God’s Word across Aotearoa?

This is a perfect resource for churches or small groups interested in continuing the conversation that was started by the Gospel Bicentenary last year. The DVD is composed of a series of short videos we produced for our website. As the content has enduring value, we have made it into a DVD.

A copy of the DVD can be yours for $10 plus $2 postage and packaging. Purchase this together with the Our Story book for a total of $20 and postage is FREE.


There are two ways you can order your copy. First, you can contact Heather in the NZCMS office by emailing Otherwise, use the NZCMS giving form: fill out your details, under “What would you like to support” select other, and in the space “Other project or Mission Partner” fill in “DVD” plus the number of copies you wish to order.