Post-trip debriefing makes the difference between the trip being a life-changing experience, or a mere memory (whether good or bad). Debriefing seeks to help short-termers to:
  • Process what they saw and learned while on the field
  • Decide what next steps are best for continuing their participation in God’s global mission
  • Give feedback as to how future trips should be run, what mission agencies are good and poor future partners, etc.

Short-term debriefing specialists agree with the above key goals for debriefing, but vary in how and where debriefing should occur:

  • In the country of service or back home
  • Written or verbal
  • Individual or group
  • Duration of debriefing

Here’s a list of ten solid questions to use in debriefing short-termers, adapted from questions from Tim Dearborn and David Livermore:

  1. What did I learn about myself on my short-term mission?
  2. What did I learn about God? 
  3. What did I learn about the people, the church, and the Christian community in the area where I served?
  4. What did I learn about how culture impacts the ways people live and understand the Gospel?
  5. What did I learn about justice, economics, poverty, and politics during my short-term mission?
  6. As a follower of Christ, what did I learn that can help me be a more fully devoted disciple?
  7. How might my faith be different if I had grown up where I was serving, as opposed to in
    my home community?
  8. What did I learn or experience that will change the way I live and represent Jesus in my home community and church?
  9. What have I learned about my own Christian calling?
  10. How can I continue to support the ongoing work in the area where I served?

A qualified leader who has substantial short-term missions experience and has successfully mentored returning short-termers should lead debriefing ideally.

Most churches that have sent short-termers will ask for a report when they return.