Following Through With Your Hosts
By Tory Ruark, Chief Operations Officer and STM coach at Standards of Excellence
A few weeks ago, my family went camping with my parents on the Oregon Coast. We had a wonderful time—especially since it was our first camping trip with a trailer rather than a tent. We packed up to head home one day before my parents. As we were about to leave, my dad says, “be careful at highway 101—you have to make a left turn—and call us when you get home so we know you made it.” Once a dad…always a dad. (If you’re wondering, I made the left turn without incident and did text when we arrived back at home).
This situation is not so different from when your STM team heads to the airport to return home. Your hosts, though not your mother or father, have just spent the last two weeks caring for your team like they were your mother or father. They care that you make it home safely and are curious—even invested—in how the individuals from your group grow and change. Think about it…The last time you went on a short-term mission trip, what interaction did you have with your host afterwards? Did they even know you arrived safely back?
In this article, we’ll go through some categories of communication that are important and in our webinar we’ll examine in more depth into how to do this. So, how should you follow-through with your host? What needs to be communicated back and forth? Here’s a small list:
- Return day check-in: send a note letting your host know you made it home and thank them for all they did. Check in to see if they are “recovering” from hosting you.
- Team Evaluation: provide a way for the host to give feedback on the team. This should include both positive and constructive feedback.
- Ministry Evaluation: provide a way to get feedback from the host on their evaluation of the ministry project.
- Your Evaluation: you should find a way to share your evaluation of them as hosts and of your experience with the ministry project. When you do this, the point is to provide information that is affirming of the positives and corrective of the struggles for the sake of future experiences they will have as a host.
- Regular check-in: it’s important for your host to let you know of ongoing fruit from your ministry time together. This will be encouraging to you, your host, and your senders! You should also give feedback about how the trip continues to impact the lives of your participants. After all, your host invested in them and may have even has impactful conversations with them. Don’t leave them wondering, “What ever happened to Tommy? I wonder if he followed through on his commitment to…”
Depending on whether your host is a western missionary or a national partner, you will need to communicate in a different way. Keep in mind communication styles, how to ensure honest feedback, and access to technology as you plan for how to follow-through with your host.