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An Arrow with Two Arrowheads

Updated: Mar 20

January 27, 2023

Mark Hedinger

When teaching about relational mission, we often use arrows to show the connection between two or more people. An arrow might point between a father and a mother, for example, with other arrows connecting their children. It is important to keep in mind, however, that each end of the arrow indicates a unique part of the relationship. The arrow has two different arrowheads! The mother might bring physical comfort, food, and health. The daughter, depending on her age, might bring obedience, respect, and household chores to the relationship.

What about the arrowheads that are found in short-term mission trips? There are a lot of different things that each group will bring. Spending time talking about the expectations of each group can be a very healthy exercise. As an example, some friends of CultureBound are Africans who have received many North American short-term teams. Part of the relationship between the African hosts and the American team is that funds are sent ahead of time to help with buying food, arranging transportation, and more. The American team always asks for receipts for the funds as part of government oversight. The African team, on the other hand, sees honesty and integrity as inherent in the relationship, and they don't need receipts.

As you can imagine, relational patterns lead to great opportunities for misunderstanding! The American team needs receipts for government-required record keeping, and the African team feels that receipts are only necessary where honesty is in question. What are some "arrowheads" that describe what a short-term team brings to it relationships?


Whether music, carpentry, cooking, or praying, part of the arrowhead of the short-term team is service. Many short-term mission trips are built upon the foundation of a particular project or camp. This gives them a specific time to go, a purpose while they are there, and benefits the group they are visiting.


Sometimes the most relational thing that one person can do is introduce his/her friends to another person. We have all had been given recommendations for a new doctor or pastor. In our connected world, linking people together can be an important part of the arrowhead. This also applies to short-term missions. In order for a team to go, someone has to connect with someone else and make those plans.


Teaching and learning are a major part of the human experience. What do you know that you can share with someone else? What can you teach to those around you? Sometimes the most valuable thing that we bring to a short-term team is not what we do, but what we teach! This is especially true in the context of the gospel. Short-term teams are ultimately going to teach the bible to those who may not have heard about Jesus.


The spiritual presence of a Christ-follower who ministers through prayer and teaching is an important part of the arrowhead. Prayer, songs, and stories are powerful contributions to healthy and fruitful relationships. It is of utmost importance that a short-term team spend time with God as they prepare and minister in a new place.


Going to a new place requires humility. When you see a different life pattern than what you are used to, learn about it. It is common to identify "different" as "wrong" instead of taking the time to understand why they do what they do. For example, sometimes the greatest gift we can give as we form a new relationship is the gift of receiving. When someone offers food - try it, even if the flavors and textures are not what you normally eat. When someone offers to teach you a skill - accept the help. Our intentional willingness to humbly try new things connects the arrows and makes a new relationship.

Let all the arrowheads you bring to your short-term mission experience be productive and fruitful.

Mark Hedinger, DIS, is Executive Director of CultureBound. Mark and his family spent 12 years living and teaching in Mexico. Since then, he has taught in many international locations and leads culture training programs at CultureBound. With his Spanish language background, he serves in a multicultural church in Portland, Oregon.


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