The Rev. Chris Findley is Associate Rector of St. Patrick’s Anglican, Murfreesboro, TN, and is leading his workshop “Answering the Call: Small Churches & Short-Term Missions” during Synod 2017.
How have you seen your parish benefit spiritually from the various short-term trips in which St. Patrick’s has been involved?
It’s really opened up our eyes to the greater story of the Gospel – what God is doing around the world. I think our tendency, particularly in the American church, is to be very self-focused. Short-Term Missions helps us see and participate in the work being done by the Church around the world. It draws us out of ourselves. I always prepare our teams by focusing on service and giving, but without fail when we return, our teams are changed by their Short-Term experience. To a person they feel grateful for the opportunity to go, for the friends they made, and for the ways they saw God work in them and through them. Quite often I am able to witness the maturing of faith in people as the trip progresses. Because we focus on building partnerships and not just “one-off” projects, we continue to pray for, correspond with, and develop our relationship with our friends abroad.
What would you say to parishes that may think they lack the resources for short-term missions?
Our God is a missionary God. Our obedience to the call to missions is an answer to a call from God’s own heart. In the small-parish it is a walk of faith from start to finish. I led my first Short-Term trip to Ecuador with a team of four from a church plant of about 50. When we began the process we had no idea how we would accomplish it, but we were aware that God had planted a vision for missions in us. So we stepped out in faith, prayed and worked to raise funds, and we went! In fact, even now, each year when our church plans a trip, it’s a walk of faith. We don’t have a huge missions budget. We fund-raise for each trip. And each time God has provided more than we need. That extra is either given away to missions causes or becomes the seed for the next trip. The main thing is to just be obedient to the call and trust God will provide the means to make it happen.
What will workshop attendees take back home to their churches about short-term missions?
My hope is that attendees will leave with the basic tools and understanding of Short-Term missions that will encourage them to go to the field. Besides the practicalities and logistics, I hope they leave with an excitement and enthusiasm for missions and will carry that to their parishes. With both the practical knowledge and the “burn”, I pray that more and more of ADOTS congregations will participate in Short-Term Missions around the world.
Registration is now open for Conference & Synod 2017: Mission Matters. Join us November 3-4 as we explore how local churches can be on mission in today’s world, reach out to our communities with the Gospel, worship, re-connect, learn, and discern together!
Visit the Conference & Synod 2017 site to learn more about speakers, workshops, lodging, and the weekend schedule.