COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Envision is a specialized function of Alliance Missions. Its primary purpose is to Identify and develop missional leaders through innovative short-term missions and ministry strategies.
Part of the Envision approach is to cultivate a missions mindset in volunteers involved in short-term missions. They have been able to accomplish this by reimagining the role of short-term missions and the people who participate in them.
The purpose of Envision is demonstrated in their premise that
“It is not the Western Church’s job to lead the Global Church into the next era, but it is the Western Church’s job to ensure that the locals we are ministering alongside are being raised up well in order to take their rightful place in leadership. Our efforts must be focused on making sure that the locals we are ministering to are ready for the task of leading the future church.”
It requires preparation, posture, partnership, and prioritization to accomplish that mission goal.
It would be rare, indeed, for any organization to head out on a short-term mission trip without preparation. Nonetheless, this writer has observed some who have done so with nothing but a plane ticket and a “plan” to erect some simple animal shelters in a remote area of Central America. They didn’t even take any tools. When they returned home, their entire story was centered on how difficult it was to work without the proper tools.
When Envision speaks to the subject, they do so in terms of strategic planning. The trip is not an end unto itself, nor is it a goal. It is conceived and commissioned as a service that helps to accomplish the broader goal recounted here in the quote above. In other words, “What is the point of this trip, and how does it contribute to reaching and raising up locals to lead.”
Envision is looking for workers who will posture themselves as participants in an ongoing endeavor, not as saviors with solutions for the situations they encounter. They want people on their trips who are learners, not experts.
“We can’t Wikipedia something and expect that to elevate us to the level of expert. We need to enter with a posture of listening and learning, instead of thinking that our [Western] strategies, ideas, and faith don’t carry nuances of our home culture. We defer to the leaders of the ministry and local church and allow them to determine
- how we use our time (most likely slower than we expect),
- what sorts of “projects” we do (it may be more relational than tangible), and
- how we do it (in a way that’s culturally sensitive, honoring, sustainable).”
Short-term missionaries must realize that they will be working with, not for, the long-term workers already in place. Short-term teams must become part of what is already happening. Their short-term relationships catalyze long-term follow-up.
This mindset begins with the realization that the locals do not need us. They need Jesus.
How many times have you heard that a short-term missions trip will be “the experience of a lifetime,” or “this experience will change your life.” Those enticements may ultimately be true, but short-termers must realize in advance that the trip is not about their experiences and selfies they send home. The priority is modeling spiritual discipleship and discipling others. It is about setting aside expectations. It is about denying self and any self- promoting, self-seeking, or self-glorifying motives or actions. Short-term trips are not about an interesting experience. They are about humbly investing oneself in the lives of others for the sake of Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
The passion for cooperating and participating as a self-denying disciple is infused into Envision volunteers before they go. That translates to each individual generating a lasting impact for those with whom they served and those whom they served. The Envision function of Alliance International Missions is providing a powerful impact for Jesus Christ with over 700 international workers based in 142 cities worldwide serving 70 people groups.
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Source: Envision, Official Website