Reading Matt Bates’ brilliant post yesterday on how to PEOize short-term missions was doubly fascinating for me since I was actually leading a short-term missions team in Korea (focused on NK defectors) when I read the post.
A PEO opportunity to add to the ones Matt mentioned relative to short-term missions is one in which short-term mission trippers regularly engage with very little prompting, namely, blogging while on the mission trip.
It is of course possible for you to have mission trippers blog on your organizational website, but it is far better for trippers to blog on their own existing sites, since the goal of Transformational Giving is to coach a champion on how to spread the cause in his or her sphere of influence.
The other alternative is for trippers to blog on single purpose blogs created specifically for the sake of keeping the trippers’ champions up to date on what’s happening on the trip.
In the case of this trip to Seoul, there were two blogs maintained by trip participants, and both were quite well written. Seoul USA board chairman Stephen Garner wrote this blog, and participants from Southwest Hills Baptist Church in Beaverton, Oregon wrote this one.
As we debriefed the trip last night prior to our departure today, one of the things I realized was how, even though these two blogs are really well done, we missed the opportunity to use them to maximum PEO coaching value.
In retrospect, there’s a number of things I would have done differently related to these blogs that I plan to do differently next time:
- Prior to the trip, I would have talked to the team about the ministry of blogging and how it could and should be a crucial part of what they do while on the trip, given that that’s the time that folks are actually reading these blogs. I would have given them a crash course in how to use the blog to spread the cause in their sphere of influence during their time on the field.
- I would have literally blocked out a half hour time block each day for people to update their blog daily, and I would have better facilitated their computer connections. The obvious next step once you’ve enabled someone to see the ministry coaching value of blogging during the trip…is giving them the time to carry out that ministry. I realize as I read the blog posts from the Seoul USA mission trippers that they had to try to squeeze in time to blog late at night and early in the morning, and sometimes even that wasn’t possible.
- I would have given them suggested themes or topics on which to blog. Mission trippers don’t naturally gravitate towards the kind of writing themes that coach the champions in their sphere of influence. Instead, they understandably gravitate toward the ‘Here’s what I did today’ style of blogging, which, while generally enjoyable and appreciated by families back home, misses a tremendous PEO opportunity.
- I would have provided the team with several Flip videocameras to enable them to take video during the idea and upload it to their blog. Flip videocameras are ridiculously cheap these days, and the power of same-day video can’t be overstated.
- I would have provided links to the mission trippers’ blogs from the Seoul USA blog and corporate websites, and I would have invited the trippers to provide links to the Seoul USA sites.
- I would also equip the trippers to seed into their during-trip blog posts the recruitment call Matt Bates discusses in his post from yesterday. What better time to recruit than from the field?
Certainly not all trips admit of blogging in the ways I’ve suggested above, but more do than don’t. I’m kicking myself for thinking of all this now that the trip is over but reminding myself that TG is typically only learned in hindsight.