Short-Term Mission Trips – English Clubs in Italy
What is an English Club?
An English Club is an opportunity for non-English speaking students in Europe to participate in a type of linguistic / cultural exchange. They usually last about 1 week, but some groups have stayed for two weeks. A group of short-term missionaries (usually 5-15 people in number) from churches in English speaking countries come to serve in an English Club. Short-term missionaries are usually anywhere from 14 to beyond retirement age, but younger participants are accompanied by their parents. In an English Club, students are usually registered before the group arrives through advertising and registration on the European campus, but registration is also allowed at the door. English Clubs are usually completely free. There is usually 3 groups, one for each level of English (beginning, intermediate and advanced). During an English Club there are many opportunities to further connect and develop your friendships with the European students, such as evening activities, excursions, sports activities, dinners together, Gelato run, and more. Some are organized events, and some or very spontaneous in nature.
During an English Club, the short-term missionaries will be given a thorough orientation their first evening. A normal day would include a team meeting (usually in the morning) when the group will meet for worship, sharing, teaching, and prayer. After this time is allowed to prepare or finalize the preparations for your English Club. English Clubs usually last about 3-hours, with the first hour and a half only focused on English, with an ice-breaker activity, some games, activities, vocabulary, slang and even some basic grammar for the beginning group. Then there is a short break, followed by a group discussion in smaller groups. The Bible is often used for these discussions. After the English Club, it is common for participants to go out together with the short-term missionaries for dinner, allowing more opportunity to develop deeper friendships. In Europe, friendships are critical for an effective sharing of the gospel. At the end, those who regularly participated, receive a nice certificate of attendance, a photo sheet, t-shirt, a Bible and a list of upcoming activities,
Why are English Clubs so Effective?
What makes an English Club so effective is that the participants come to us and we can serve them. It is a way to learn and practice English in a very fun and interactive way, not just sitting and listening in a class room. Friendships are developed between the European students and the short-term missionaries, which often continue for many years. English Clubs attract students from all over the world with a wide range of religious backgrounds. Depending on the specific location, English Clubs will use the Bible for the last hour, reading a passage that many people are already familiar with, and then using it as a way to introduce a topic for discussion. When the Bible is used, we are always very clear with the participants so that their is no sense of deception on our parts. In the first few days, we encourage discussions to be very focused on the people, getting to know them, their family, their background and interests. After just a few days, friendships are developed, and it become very natural to share personal testimonies of salvation or other Biblical truths, and the gospel. After an English Club, the local church always conducts continuing English Clubs once per week to further develop relationships and do follow-up with our new friends.
Special Activities during an English Club
Some of the most exciting special activities during an English Club are the “Tour of the City Center” and the “Excursion”. During these special activities, it is very easy to significantly deepen relationships and share Biblical truths.
In the “Tour of the City Center” we walk around key points of interest in the center, and at every stop there is a short presentation where various English Club participants are able to use their English. For example, in Torino Italy our first stop is usually a first century city gate near Il Rifugio, our Christian Student Center. At this point, someone will read “in English” its history and significance. Then someone on the church short-term mission team will give a short “truth nugget”, where they can talk about how “Jesus is the Only Way” or the “Gate to Heaven”. These are usually only 2-3 minutes in length. Someone in the English Club will translate the short talk into Italian (phrase by phrase). They love these events because they get to use their English in a very practical way. We love these times because they are hearing Biblical truths. We all love these times because friendships are deepened as we casually walk from one location to another.
Another key event is the “Excursion”. We all take a trip together in rented bus and go outside the city to another point of interest. During the entire day friendships are developed, and on the bus there are wonderful times to talk and get to know one another better. Then on the way back, we usually have someone share their personal testimony or salvation, and then anyone can share how much they loved and enjoyed their time together during the week. The excursion is usually the last Saturday before the group returns, so there are commonly many long good-byes and tears that are shed. It is always amazing to see how God develops such deep friendships in just one week. Sometimes participants will become Christians during the week together, but more commonly it is the beginning of a long-term relationship and shortly thereafter some will give their lives to Christ and unite with the local community of believers.
How Can My Church Get Involved?
Great Commission Italy has been doing English Clubs for over 15 years, so the process is fairly well established. If a church is potentially interested in sending a group of short-term missionaries to serve in this capacity, it is recommended that the group leader and European missionary pastor initially talk on the phone or on SKYPE. This will answer any questions that remain, and the leaders can get to know each other better. After this usually a preliminary budget is developed. This budget will only include the in-country costs. Churches usually make their own travel arrangements and provide for their own insurance. As the time draws near, orientation materials and other resources are sent to help the team leader prepare his/her team. We often use materials developed specifically for this type of ministry, and it is VERY easy for every native English speaking person to easily prepare a very interesting and interactive lesson.
If your church is interested in considering a Short-Term mission trip to Italy for an English, please feel free to contact Paul Meiburger (firstname.lastname@example.org).