An outreach journal is a collection of memories, stories, experiences and adventures. They’re a place to jot down details of places you’ve been, people you met, discoveries you’ve made, and the miraculous ways that God used you and your team to minister to others.
Why Keep an outreach Journal?
Outreach: where more transformation happens in eight to twelve weeks than may have happened in the previous eight to twelve years. It’s so impacting that you’ll never forget it, right?
The thing is, we do forget. Sure, we remember the main ideas, but might lose those special details that were such a big deal when they happened. When you write things down- your expectations, what actually happens, what God has done, you’re more likely to remember your trip–and why you took it in the first place.
Outreach is a time to learn. In YWAM, it’s no coincidence that the vast majority of our training schools include a practical outreach phase. When you travel to a new place, you will learn about the people, their culture and customs. You will learn how to minister effectively, and perhaps learn what doesn’t work so well. Having a place to write your experiences and observations will help you understand better what’s going on around you.
It’s important to take time to process what’s going on. Like I said before, so much transformation is happening so quickly. What is God speaking to you? What are you learning? How are you growing personally? What are you discovering in the places you’ve visited? What impact are you making with the people you meet–and how are they impacting you? By writing things down on a regular basis during outreach, you ‘ll have something to look back on and reflect on what you’ve learned so that you can apply it to your life in other ways.
21 Writing Prompts for your Outreach Journal
Ok, we’ve all been there. It’s time to sit down and write, and you have no idea what to put onto that intimidating blank page. Have no fear, that’s what writing prompts are for.
- Why are you going? Don’t let yourself get away with “My outreach leader said so.” Why are you going on this outreach? What do you want to accomplish personally on this trip?
- What are your expectations? Anyone who has traveled knows that our expectations can be wildly different from reality, especially if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before. Before you go, write what you think–or hope–it will be like. If nothing else, it may be good for a laugh later. Write about the things you plan to do, the places you plan to go. We all know that outreach plans are written in a plasma-like substance that can change at any time, but still, if you have an idea of what you personally want to do on this outreach, you’re more likely to be intentional and actually do it. Even if it’s on your day off.
- Write about your team. What are your teammates like? What strengths do they bring to the team? What have you learned from them?
- Write about the people you meet. Write about someone you meet each day. Describe them: What do they look like, how do they talk, what are their mannerisms. What did you feel about them? Did you minister to them? Did you learn anything from them? Have you been changed in some way because of your interaction with them?
- What is it like to interact with people from a new culture? Did you understand them? Do you speak the language? If not, did you attemp an unfamiliar language?
- Write about yourself. Outreach-and traveling itself- will help you grow. What has made you uncomfortable? Did some circumstance bring out something in yourself that you’ve never noticed before? Did you recognize some new talent, an unknown strength (or shortcoming) that you didn’t know you had?
- What is God saying? Perhaps it is because we are outside of our routine, and our comfort zone, that outreach often makes us more aware of our dependence on God. What is He teaching you? Are there any prophetic words or visions you’ve had for this outreach, or for your own personal life? When it happens, you think you’ll never forget it. But it’s amazing how fast it enters into the fog of memory. Listen to Ezekiel: Write the vision.
- What has God done? Jesus talked about the joy that would erupt in heaven when someone repents and turns their hearts to God. Take some time and rejoice with heaven. Who has given their life to Jesus? Have you seen people healed? What other miracles, signs and wonders have you seen take place?
- Write about the ministries you work with. Working with long-term missionaries and ministers can be very impacting for a short-term missionary. Many DTS graduates have returned to work with those ministries later because of the initial experience. What does the ministry do? What is their vision and purpose? What impact have they made in their community? Who are they and what are their dreams and goals? FYI- Be aware of security risks and always ask for permission to use names and pictures if you’re posting online.
- Write the highs and lows of each day. What did you like best, and like least?
- What are you thankful for? There’s nothing like camping on church benches in a village with no electricity and running water to stir you up- either to complaint or to gratitude. A good way to keep yourself focused and grounded is to write down what you’re grateful for.
- Write about the food. One of the best things about travel is trying new foods. And honestly, one of the best ways of relating with people from any culture is eating together. What new food(s) have you eaten? What does it look/smell/taste like? Did you dine with new people in their homes? In a restaurant? What kinds of meal-time customs did you observe?
- Do the locals know you’re a traveler? What makes you stand out?
- First Impressions: As soon as you get to a new place, write your first impressions. Use your senses to describe sights, sounds, smells, feelings, etc.
- Packing: What is the most valuable thing you brought with you? What is something you should have brought but didn’t? What should you have left at home?
- What kinds of advice were you given before outreach? Was that advice helpful?
- What do you wish you had known before you had taken this trip? What would you tell others who were planning a similar outreach?
- What do you wish you knew more of about your destination? history, culture, etc. What stereotypes did you have about the place before you arrived and how are they different from what you’ve discovered since?
- Have you experienced culture shock? What triggered it? How did you react?
- Sketch. Draw a picture of a person or place. Sketch interesting buildings or architectural designs. You could also ask a teammate or someone you meet to write a message or sketch in your journal.
- What would you do differently? Looking at how this outreach has gone, what would you do differently next time? What advice would you give to someone who might go on an outreach?
Now go get your journal, or your tablet or a spiral bound notebook… or napkins from the cafe on the corner… and start journaling!
Do you have any other ideas for writing prompts? Tell us in the comments below.