Debrief (Matthew 15:39

Photo by Romain V on Unsplash

Jesus has taken the disciples on a mission trip to the Gentiles. There, He  healed a deaf  mute, caused the lame to walk and restored the sight of the blind. Many were healed. To top it all off, four thousand men – besides women and children – were miraculously fed with just seven loaves of bread and a few small fish. To say that it was an eventful and successful trip would be an understatement. Best of all, as a result of this ministry trip, people “praised the God of Israel.” 

Now that the trip is over, Matthew records, “After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.”

The Gospel of Mark refers to the same area as Dalmanutha. It is likely that the area had several small villages by various names, and people referred to it by the village they had some personal memory of. Today the towns of Kfar Hitim, Arbel and Hamam are there. “It was […] about three miles N,NW of Tiberias, on the southern end of the great plain of Gennesereth, famous for its fertility and year-round tropical climate.” 

Jesus has deliberately taken His team to a low-key area so they can unwind. 

A well-run short-term mission trip includes times of debrief – especially at the end of the experience. Actually, every intensive ministry experience requires a debrief! Like a Sabbath day at the end of a challenging work week, it is a welcome break from a demanding schedule. It is a time to clear your mind and relax a bit. It is a time to get more physical rest, talk to your friends, and share what impacted you (both positive and negative) so you can fully process all that’s happened. 

Some may think to dismiss such a time as a waste. But we need mental and emotional space to digest all that happens, just as our bodies need a break to recover from physical activity. How much more so a spiritual break when one has been engaged in intensive spiritual activity!

Perhaps it was partly with this in mind that God built a time of rest into every week. He established a rhythm to life so that people might not be overwhelmed with the emotions and stresses of daily life. 

A weekend is supposed to be to the mind what sleep is to the body. Rest and relaxation allow that one can spend significant time in prayer and reflection, which heals our minds and soul as sleep heals the body.  Yet if we see value in a weekend, we ought also to see value in a time of debrief, for the spirit also needs rest!

Rest and debrief are a necessary part of ministry life. They hold great value. Without them you are like a worker being told to do a double-shift. Without them you cannot be as spiritually productive as you need to be, and without them resentment begins to build. 

Team debrief is a time for a team to hear each other, pray for each other and minister to each other. It is rich and meaningful, a most productive use of time. Do not miss it! 

Periodically I debrief a class. I sit down with some students over refreshments and ask what spoke to them, what they understood me to be saying, what questions they have. I’ve found this one of the more productive means of feedback.

Howard Hendricks

APPLICATION: Intentionality

Our quiet times with God are most productive when we listen to Him debrief us on what He’s been doing while we were busy or sleeping.