Building on the Mountaintop

By Phil Mobley, Oct 15, 2013

Anyone who has been around a PCA church long enough has seen the slideshows and heard the stories. “I went to bless others, but I ended up being more blessed myself!”

This is a frequent refrain from people returning from short-term mission projects, and it illustrates how the Holy Spirit works in ways that we don’t expect. Individual spiritual development and “mountaintop experiences” are common. But the impact can—and, perhaps, should—be broader.

Mick Weltin is an assistant pastor at First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Coral Springs, Fla., and also serves as chaplain at Coral Springs Christian Academy. He has led several short-term teams in recent years, including visits to Jamaica earlier this year and Haiti in 2010. These trips have influenced not only the congregation at FPC, but also the local community.

Involve the Church
Weltin has noticed that short-term trips help keep the church’s mission to the nations in the forefront of the congregation’s mind. Certainly this is true for the team members who go abroad for a week or two. As they prepare, they pray for those they are going to serve and forge friendships into the tight bond of a team with a purpose. And as they reach out for encouragement and support, other congregants are drawn in.

“Before our last trip to Jamaica, we had a big dinner with Jamaican food and steel-drum music,” Weltin recalled. “It was moving for others in the congregation to hear the kids talk about their expectations and to pray for them.” Similarly, since the trip this past March, the team has had multiple opportunities to inspire both the church and the community.

Taking it Home
The town of Coral Springs, located in south Florida, provides ample opportunity to put this inspiration into practice. “As a church, we try to follow Acts 1:8, moving outward from our Jerusalem and Judea into Samaria and the ends of the earth,” noted Weltin, “This is a cross-cultural community, so they are all right here.” Serving locally is hardwired into FPC’s short-term trip process. “It’s a rule that you have to be serving here in order to go on a trip with us. So we’ll have middle schoolers volunteering in nursing homes, or some of our bilingual students will work in ESL classes.” Many times, according to Weltin, the team members jump right back into local involvement when they return.

“It’s good for Christians to stay on the offense, to be engaging the world,” said Weltin. “Christianity is not just about the ‘Thou shalt nots.’” Short-term trips have been an integral part of maintaining an outward focus for the congregation at FPC Coral Springs.

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Pray for churches to send short-term teams to Haiti, and that these trips would make a significant impact. Pray for trip participants and for the Gonaives church they go to serve. 

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