Transforming lives on four continents

Insight Teams

Want to change the world? Start with changing you!

God is at work in exciting ways in some of the poorest, most marginalised and least evangelised places on earth. We want to give you an insight into what he’s doing so that you might be inspired to engage in God’s mission when you return - wherever that might lead you.

 

BMS Insight Teams aren’t about you going overseas to make an impact - they are about immersing yourself in another culture and letting the mission of God and the world Church have an impact on you.

 

Working alongside our long-term personnel and partners, you’ll be encouraging and supporting those who are in it for the long haul, helping out wherever you can.

 

We long to see churches and individuals in the UK get caught up with a passion for making a difference in this world. But we also know that changing the world starts with opening up our eyes to its needs and our hearts its saviour. BMS Insight Teams offer the chance to do just that.

 

 

 

Insight Teams aim to:

 

Create missionary disciples
By pushing individuals out of their comfort zone, by placing them in the company of some inspiring Christians around the world and by allowing them to explore their faith whilst dropping some of their cultural baggage, we believe that some radical discipleship can take place. 
 
Inspire churches in their mission practice locally
We recognise that we have a huge amount to learn from the world Church about good mission practice and we hope that churches will be inspired to apply this in their local context.
 
Increase support of world mission 
Through seeing first-hand some of the inspiring work God is doing around the world we hope that individuals and churches in the UK will be encouraged to increase their support of and engagement with BMS World Mission.
 
Recruit for longer term service
Many people use short-term trips such as these to test the water for a call to longer term service. For others, a call to longer term can come unexpectedly as a result of such trips.
 
Bless our overseas workers and partners
With humble attitudes and servant hearts, teams can be a blessing to those they visit through sharing in fellowship and practical support.  
 

What Insight Teams are not

 
At their heart, our Insight Teams are a discipleship and learning experience, principally for the benefit of those who go, and the church that sends them. 
 
Insight Teams are not an opportunity to significantly or directly contribute towards the long-term, sustainable mission work which BMS and our trusted partners are engaged in around the world. Such engagement typically requires a long-term investment of time, an in-depth understanding of the local culture, a grasp of the language, a significant amount of training, and a set of specific capacity building professional skills. That’s why the core of BMS’ work is centred around our partners, supported partner workers and mission workers, and why you won’t hear us talking about our Insight Teams as ‘Mission Trips’. 
 

So why go… wouldn’t it be better just to send the money to the projects overseas?!

 
That’s a very good question, and given that billions of pounds are spent each year on short-term mission trips, one we should take very seriously indeed. 
 
As we’ve said, the core of our work centres on our people. Our supported partner workers, our mission workers and our UK staff are our greatest assets. They’re also our greatest expense. We are always in need of churches and individuals who will commit to supporting the salaries and expenses of our people, through 24:7 Partners, Church Partners or other channels
 
The average cost of sending an Insight Teams is probably about £8,000. That money could fund the planting of dozens of new church fellowships in India!
 
However, let’s also not overlook the potential impact that an Insight Team could have. If we meet all our aims…
 
Create missionary disciples
Team members all individually grow in their relationship with Christ, becoming advocates for and lifelong supporters of world mission.
 
Inspire churches in their mission practice locally
Your church gets a renewed passion for reaching out in creative ways to your surrounding community.
 
Increase support of world mission
Members of your church dig deep and sacrificially increase their prayer and financial support of world mission.
 
Recruit for longer term service
A member of the team starts exploring long-term service, whilst another uses their professional skills on a short-term placement.
 
Bless our overseas workers and partners 
Those in it for the long haul are encouraged and blessed by the team’s servant hearts and humble attitudes.
 
Ultimately, this is a question for you as a church/organisation and individual to weigh up. And we recommend you take the time to do that prayerfully and carefully. 
 
It’s worth considering where the money is coming from too. If the money is coming out of your church’s mission budget, which might otherwise be supporting long-term partners or personnel, then this might divert support from work with a longer term strategy. However if the money is coming out of the team members’ own holiday budgets, then that seems like a great divestment! 

 

Team size

 
Usually our teams consist of somewhere between three and nine people. We’re cautious about going much bigger because it can put quite a strain on those at the receiving end!
 

Duration

 
Typically our teams head out for two weeks, but there’s plenty of flexibility in that depending on your preference and that of the receiving partners. 
 

Programme overseas 

 
Your programme overseas will reflect the aims and ethos of Insight Teams, with an emphasis on meeting with and learning from Christians in another culture, and learning from some of the inspiring mission work that is taking place. Of course, many of us learn best through doing so they’ll be some opportunity for hands-on practical engagement. But it’s important to understand that any work you might do is unlikely to be an end in itself. You’ll have a named supervisor, who will set up your programme and be responsible for your team whilst you’re overseas. Supervisors are generally BMS mission workers or supported partner workers. 
 
Throughout the programme your team facilitator will be arranging times of reflection, where your team will take the time to share with each other your reactions to all that you are experiencing and what God is teaching you through it all. 
 

Leadership

 
In our experience there are two key leadership roles that need to be taken on within the team. They could be done by the same person, but often it works better with two different people.
 
The organiser: the person who makes the trip happen! The organiser will be the contact point between BMS and the rest of the team. They will book the flights, handle the budgets, make sure the team are in the right place at the right time and a hundred more tasks besides. Someone with good attention to detail and who is quick at replying to emails is what we’re looking for here. 
 
The facilitator: the facilitator will lead the team through the times of reflection and study, pre, during and post trip. They are passionate about seeing their team discipled through the Insight Team experience, and are fully on board with the ethos and aims of Insight Teams. Some previous experience of cross-cultural mission will be useful. This person may also take on pastoral responsibility for those in the team. 
 
There will be a team leaders' training day being held at our offices each year, usually in the autumn. It’s worth having your organiser and facilitator picked out by that date so they can come along. Church leaders are also welcome to attend this day, even if they aren’t going on the trip themselves. 
 
  • Team Leaders Training Day: November 2017 (date TBC), Baptist House, Didcot. 
 

Who should go?

 
Deciding who from your church should go on the trip can be a tricky process. We’ve got some guidelines around selection criteria and interviewing which we’ll talk through with you.
For now, we just suggest that you make sure you communicate this trip accurately. Telling people that the trip is primarily about learning, fellowship and encouragement will ensure that those who sign up have the right expectations and attitude from the start. It may also do a lot of the hard work of selection for you!
 

More than just a ‘trip’

 
It’s important that all the team members understand they’re signing up for more than just two weeks overseas. The Insight Team experience is a learning and engagement journey that starts up to a year before the team departs and finishes long after they return. As a team you’ll be meeting together regularly to develop your own understanding of cross-cultural mission and your place in it. We’ll provide the material to help you with this. 
 
As a team you’ll be coming along to a preparation day at our International Mission Centre in Birmingham. There are two dates to choose from each year – but make sure you get them in your diary now, as training is compulsory for all team members.
 
01 June 2017
10 Feb 2018
 
Finally, we’ll also arrange and facilitate a debrief for your team. This is a really essential part of the Insight Team experience, so all team members will need to be there.  

 

Youth

 
We’re really passionate about seeing young people discipled in mission, and our superb gap year programme Action Teams, is designed for this very purpose. It is popular, successful and extremely well run; we’d encourage any young people from your congregation who are interested in mission to consider applying. 
 
Whilst we have accepted under 18s onto Insight Teams sometimes in the past, the programme isn’t tailored to this demographic. Some young people have found the training material harder to engage with, and the programme overseas, with its emphasis on reflection and learning as opposed to practical action, a bit frustrating. 
 

Getting the whole church on board

 
We hope that the benefits from this trip will extend far beyond the team members themselves, but ripple out into your wider church and its surrounding community.
It’s worth thinking early on about how you will get your whole church involved in the Insight Team experience. We’ll discuss ideas for this at the team leaders' training day, but some things we’ve seen done in the past include creative fundraising events, a team blog and even skyping into the Sunday service from overseas. 
 

Mentors

 

In our experience, having someone at home who can mentor you through your Insight Team experience will enable you to get the most out of it. It will ensure you are well supported, challenged and held accountable for the impact this experience will have on you into the future.

 

If you already have a Christian mentor, then we would encourage you to involve them in this experience. We have produced some guidelines on mentoring Insight Team participants, which can be found in the appendices, for you to pass on to them. If you don’t have a suitable person, then we would encourage you to think about finding someone who you can speak to on a regular basis both before you go and once you have returned to the UK. We would recommend talking to your Team Leader as they may already have an idea of individuals who would like to support the team in this way. It might also be that your church has a support or mentoring structure in place.

 

Fundraising

 
If you choose to fundraise for the trip, it’s really important that you’re honest about what this team is… and what this team isn’t. Your supporters have the right to know that they’re primarily funding a discipleship experience. 
 
To ensure that team members take the Insight Team experience seriously, and take ownership of it as a discipleship experience, we think it’s important for each team member to contribute at least some of the money from their own pockets. The amount is for you to decide, and will vary according to personal circumstances. But a sacrificial personal investment from each team member is essential for an experience focussed on long-term engagement. 
 

Longer term partnerships

 
We are aware that many team members will be struck by the contexts they come across and the people they meet, and will naturally want to respond with various expressions of help. The causes of poverty are complex and wide-ranging, and so it is important that teams appreciate that there are no easy answers. Simply giving a hand-out will not solve the problem. As such, BMS works through local partner organisations to ensure that our responses are locally appropriate to the context and effective in bringing long-lasting and far-reaching change. 
 
Whilst your team is overseas, it’s likely that in addition to visiting BMS partners and personnel, you’ll also get a chance to visit a range of other churches, projects and ministries that aren’t necessarily formally connected to BMS. We do this partly to give you a fuller experience of the incredible work God is doing around the world and, more practically, to reduce the overall amount of time that our personnel and partners are occupied in hosting the team. 
 
However, many local partners are themselves in need of financial support and may encourage you to support them beyond your time in-country. We’re very clear in saying to churches that the Insight Team experience is not an opportunity to give financial handouts to the partners they interact with, or set up ongoing partnerships with other ministries independent of BMS. This isn’t because we’re worried about funds being moved away from BMS – after all, it’s God’s mission not ours. No, the reason we don’t permit Insight Teams to do this is because, more often than not, it ends up doing more harm than good. BMS is committed to these partnerships for the long haul and goes about this in a strategic way, working with partners to build their capacity, to become more effective and to learn together. So if you want to deepen your support of a particular partner or ministry, please do this through BMS. Our Church Partners programme is a great way to do this.
 
As we mentioned earlier, we are always in need of churches and individuals who will commit to praying for and financially supporting our long-term personnel and partners through BMS. If your church is already within Church Partners, then we hope that sending a team to one of your partnered interests will deepen and strengthen this partnership. If as a church you’re not already part of our Church Partners programme, then our hope and expectation is that an Insight Team will be a catalyst for making that happen. 
 

Further reading

 
As you think about sending an Insight Team from your church, we’d highly recommend you take a couple of hours to read the Helping Without Hurting Short-Term Missions, Leader’s Guide. It contains some excellent advice that we think you’ll find really helpful. Later on down the line we’ll encourage your team facilitator to make use of the small group training units contained within this guide. 
 

Carbon offsetting

 
BMS is committed to creation care as part of an integral approach to mission (see our Creation Care resources for more details), so we will carbon offset your flights and add that cost to your invoice. Typically this is in the region of £5 to £20 per person. 
 

Code of best practice

 
BMS World Mission is proud to say that our Insight Teams have been certified by Global Connections as operating under the Code of Best Practice in Short Term Mission for 2015-16. This is a reflection of the high level of training, practical support, administration, legal compliance and member care present in our programme. 
 

Interested?

 
If you are interested in pursuing an Insight Team further, please complete this short form to register your interest. Make sure you’ve also got the dates of the leaders' training and team preparation days in your diary. If you’ve got any questions, get in touch.
 

 

 

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