by Nick Cocalis, Co-Founder and Missions Director

If you’re like us, it feels like summer was just wrapping up yesterday and your mission team bus was pulling out of the community as you waved goodbye.  But here at Next Step, we are in full swing for our 2016 year and wanted to share a glimpse of what we’re excited about as we head into our 9th year as a ministry.  This past weekend, all 21 of our full-time staff were together for 3 days of prayer, planning and vision at our annual Spiritual Retreat.  As a partner or supporter, we always feel it’s important for you to know the heartbeat of this ministry.  Here are the four things our staff is focused on for the 2016 ministry year.


1. Short-Term Missions collides with Long-Term Community Development

If you’ve been around Next Step the past few years, you have definitely heard this vision.  We are excited to continue the momentum of community development that we see in the world of missions.  As of now, we have eight Partnership Coordinators (living full time in our partner communities), many community leadership teams, and countless families focused on discipleship and follow-up after our short-term trips.  We have just hired our first full-time director of Community Development who will focus on holistic ministry in our communities, and we are excited for a year of continued growth in our ministry.


2. Increased Spiritual Climate

As a ministry, but more importantly as a body of believers, this is one we can always be pushing ourselves in.  It is our goal this year to have a heightened awareness of God’s presence in all that we do.  This will look like increased prayer and meditation time on a daily basis at our office, continuing education in missions and theology for our staff, and a focus on scripture and prayer in all we do.  At the end of the day, we want to look back and say that 2016 was the closest we’ve felt to Christ in our ministry’s history.


3. Community and Participant Growth

Because of the first two vision goals, we are excited to expand what God is doing in our ministry to as many people as we can.  As a leadership team, we feel very good about the structure and support we have in place for growth.  We are looking to continue our community partnerships by about two new community partners per year and with that will continue our student participant growth.  We are humbled and excited about the ways the Holy Spirit is moving in this ministry.


4. Professional Development

Our final vision for the year will have a great effect on both our staff here at Next Step, as well as on our trip participants and community partners.  As we have grown as a ministry we have had the ability to focus on professional development in many areas of our ministry.  Over the past year, we have seen tremendous strides in our construction department, worship department and our new community development department.  We are devoted to pouring resources into our staff departments to not only develop the young men and women serving on our staff, but also so we can continue to provide the highest quality missions experience to our partners.

We hope you are excited about our vision and goals for 2016 just like we are.  Thank you for your interest and support of Next Step Ministries.  As always, if you have any questions about this blog post or any other, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.


Nick Cocalis
Co-Founder and Missions Director

Next Step Ministries