I have been reading a new book which I hope to be reviewing shortly on how Christians should work in the realm of community renewal. I found the following questions very helpful from a church perspective when considering if and when we should receive outside ‘teams’ of young people who come to Niddrie for a 2 week trip’. Obviously, they need to be contextualised to every situation, but they are more than relevant nonetheless.
1. How much time will you consume from me and my staff? How much of our time will be taken from our work in order to house, feed and occupy you during your time with us? Is this a good trade-off for us?
2. Will your volunteering cost us more than it is ultimately worth? Is the effort of training, equipping and teaching you far better focused on our own mission and teaching our own people?
3. Will we get any money from you? In addition to expenses will we get money for use of facilities and for the time of our staff required to look after you?
4. How much time will hosting you pull us away from our own mission? Will you counsel, train and support your own groups as you come or are we required to do that too? Our main focus is the community not the strengthening of local church groups.
5. Is this about serving the poor or giving a meaningful experience to your group? Will you help us support the vision when you have gone or will be forgotten about inside 6 months?
6. Will you share your contacts/networks with us? Will you introduce us to other friends who can help the vision too? Or will you go home, tell a few stories and forget about our needs?
7. Are you more concerned with measurable results rather than faithfulness? Can you live with seeing no immediate changes and/or fruit as you work in a long-term context?
8. What is your true agenda? Is this about you getting some ‘mission experiences’? Have you always wanted to travel to another country? Do you feel sorry for the poor? What are your motives behind your trip?
9. Can you serve without feeling the need to take over? Can you hold back even if you see an indigenous leadership doing it ‘wrong’ or who appear less proficient than you?
10. Will you attempt to control us (overtly or otherwise) with money? Do your gifts have strings? If so, what are they and let’s be upfront about it?
Niddrie has a great relationship with partners from the UK (UCCF) and the USA (Champion Forest Baptist Church) who are particularly respectful of the church and what we are seeking to do here in our community. They offer wonderful support and come with a truly servant hearted-attitude. My own conviction is to work with 2 or 3 groups exclusively rather than a whole host of teams in order to establish and deepen true relationships and much closer ministry ties.