NTE is a pretty epic conference. Not just because it’s held at an EPIC site (ha ha). But because it’s both a training conference for mission AND a mission packaged together. NTE captures what AFES is all about. It’s about training students in understanding and communicating the Bible, and then sending them out to tell others about Jesus. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of, but it also can be pretty freaky, especially if it’s your first time out!
So here’s a few handy tips, to get your minds, hearts and bodies ready for mission.
- This is such an obvious truth that we often just don't do it. Jesus' mission is not merely a work of our words, but of God’s Spirit. As we talk to people about God, we need to talk to God about people. Pray hard, early, and often!
- Pray for your campus team and for your host church that God would unite you together in the work of the gospel.
- Pray that God will transform your mind, soften your heart and move you to action, so you can effectively witness to the Jesus who has saved you.
- But pray especially for the people you will speak to on mission, that God would graciously transform them, so they would humbly accept Jesus into their lives.
- Find out what you can about the church you're going to. (At the very least check out their website.)
- Make sure you know what events you're organising on mission and whether you will be required to do a talk or testimony. This will impact how you prepare for mission before and at NTE.
- Get a thank you gift or card for your host family. You can organise this before you leave for mission, and you can even get something at the conference bookstall, e.g. a CD, book or an NTE mug.
- Ask God to give you opportunities and courage to share the gospel.
Seek to glorify the Lord in all you do
- Approach mission with the right attitude. It's pretty incredible that we get to serve Jesus and his people in this way. You can be a big encouragement to churches that might not have many people of your age, training or enthusiasm.
Care for your mission team (and yourself)
- Mission follows a pretty intense week at NTE. You've had heaps of new information thrown at you in a short space of time, had new-people overload, and you probably didn't sleep that well. So by the time you go on mission you may still be running on adrenalin, but you also may be feeling a little worn out. This is the time when you will need to be extra loving to others, to encourage and build them up, especially when things go pear-shaped.
- Make sure you get good some solid sleep. Mission is often tiring and stressful. You will function a lot better if you sleep well.
- Work hard in everything, including relaxing on your day off!
Be willing to serve
- Be a gracious ambassador for Jesus, i.e. look to serve, not merely to be served.
- This is your chance to have a go. Don't be scared. Try to be positive. God is on your side.
- Practice hard and present the gospel as well as you can. This may be the first and only chance some people really get to hear the gospel. So try to be clear, faithful and friendly.
- You might feel uncomfortable and awkward, but take the initiative to engage with people in the church, e.g. spread out among the crowd at services and events, rather than just chatting to other team members.
Be willing to learn
- Learn what they do at your host church and why. Don't get too hung up on what is different to your church back home.
- Relax, learn and ask questions without being too critical. Debrief on the way home, i.e. not in earshot of regulars!
Connect with your hosts
- Time with your hosts is gold. Get to know them. This is a great chance to connect with new brothers and sisters in Christ and for you both to be encouraged by God's grace in your lives.
- Aim for opportunities to share your testimony. Talk about what you learnt at NTE and what God is doing on your campus.
- Be good guests, and offer to cook or wash up or help out when you can. Don't just lock yourself away in your bedroom!
- Dress modestly, e.g. don't walk around with nothing but a towel on!
Be a bee
- Bees pollinate flowers by talking pollen from one place to another. So work out what you can take from your mission experience back to your ministry on campus (or your own home church).
- Keep in contact with your host church to find out what's happening, so you're able to continue praying for them throughout the year. Many people will hear the gospel as a result of these missions. So keep bringing these people to the Lord in prayer.
- Remember, though you may sow and water the seed of the gospel, it's only God who gives the growth!