Sending A Scout Team

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What Should Scout Teams Look For?

In the case of scout teams, you want to get a look at just about every aspect of your new culture. This seems daunting but by breaking it down into a few broad categories, your task will become much more manageable.

In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 of his followers two by two before he visited each area to do his ministry. Their objective was to pray for God’s work; they intentionally left all of their supplies behind. Jesus used this strategy in order to identify where the Lord was working behind the scenes so their ministry was as effective as possible.

Here are some helpful questions to ask and ideas to look for:

  • What are the basic demographics of the community? Is it full of young families or mostly elderly people? Is there a university or college nearby? Do people stay in the community their whole life or do they eventually move away?
  • What is the general religious climate of the community? Locate the places of worship and what the general “schedule” is for practitioners. Is attending religious services a social expectation or is that only valued by a minority of the population? Do most members of the community adhere to one religious system? Do members of different faiths live harmoniously or in conflict with one another?
  • What historical and cultural events have shaped the culture’s worldview? In the United States, we take a linear view of history, while many parts of the world remember history, not by what occurred most recently, but what has the most impact on their lives and culture.
  • What drives the economy? Is it based on agricultural or industrial development? Is it fueled by tourism or technology? Where are the businesses located (do they commute) and who operates them (family owned or large corporations)?
  • What is the attitude towards outsiders, and Westerners in particular? Will they respond positively to the long-term engagement of future teams, or is there a distrust of new people? If a community does not particularly like outsiders and tourists, a small team of mature, culturally sensitive adults may be more effective than forty high school students on a short-term trip.
  • What brings community together? What holidays and festivals are celebrated and when? Do people gather after work or school for socializing? How do people connect through sports, music, or art? Scout teams should also take note of community gathering places: parks, cafés & coffee shops, restaurants & pubs, markets, etc.
  • What are the physical needs and spiritual strongholds? Poverty can express itself in several ways: unemployment, homelessness, lack of education, deficiency in healthcare, or scarcity of food & water. Do communities seem to be plagued by common addictions? What are the primary challenges to the family unit – separated/abandoned spouses, orphaned children, abuse, or criminal activity?
  • Who is God connecting you to relationally? Identify locals that are open to conversation, receptive to your presence, and are willing to connect you with other members of the community. How can you build on these initial relationships?

This list is just a starting point and is by no means comprehensive. The key is to gather more information than you think is necessary. It may not seem like all of the information you are gathering is important in the short-term, but it can be extremely valuable in the long run. The relationships initiated and information gathered by a scout team will greatly benefit the pre-field preparation and on-field ministry of future teams.

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