Scripture passages that shape our church on this topic:
We should have the mindset to proclaim the Gospel message lavishly and actively at every opportunity.
Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2)
Jesus sent the disciples on short-term projects to do ministry and for personal growth
After this, the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go (Matt. 10:1-25, Luke 10:1).
Paul did relief trips and handled funds for relief
So each of the disciples, according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brothers who lived in Judea. They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 11:29-30).
After they had completed their relief mission, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, taking along John who is called Mark (Acts 12:25).
“Getting out of the starting blocks”, steps to getting off the ground this year:
- Join with a team from a church nearby or relationally connected and learn how to handle the trip planning so that you can do it on your own the next year.
- Partner with a mission organization that specializes in short-term projects. They do most of the planning work and actively guide you through the process. You may start with an organization that specializes in short-term projects that are not so far from your church. Consider STEM or EngageGlobal
What we do:
Our church normally selects, trains, and sends around ten teams of 4-6 college students to work among an unreached people group for six to eight weeks each summer. Because we value teamwork, we insist on only sending students in teams that have trained together all spring. Part of the training includes taking the Perspectives on the World Christian Movement class. Most of the projects are with well-known ministry partners. We also prepare and send middle school and high-school students for 10-14 day projects that include a cross-cultural experience in the USA or internationally.
Key Lessons to Share:
- Since we believe that much of the spiritual fruit in short-term term projects happens in the lives of the people that are on the trip, we embrace this reality and design the trips accordingly. We actively invest in team members’ selection, orientation, training, and debriefing to maximize the impact of the trip in their lives.
- Longer trips have more impact on the people going and on the ground than shorter trips. Most of our projects for adults average eight weeks. However, middle school and high-school trips are shorter, often 8-14 days.
- Quality field partners are essential to make sure that the ministry fruit from the trip is preserved and that the volunteers are well supported. We don’t recruit a team for a project until we are confident of the field leadership.
- Because we want to nudge our people toward going to unreached people groups on a long-term basis, we try to focus our short-term teams on unreached people groups.
- Our church budget normally pays around ten percent of a trip’s cost if the trip conforms to the church’s values. We pay twenty percent of the cost of team leaders. Occasionally we ask team members to pay or raise some of the funds for their team’s leaders’ expenses.
- We try to send our key church staff leaders on a short-term trip at least every three years or so to continue to infuse the global task to reach the nations into their teaching and ministry.
- Though we realize that people who go on short-term mission trips often benefit as much as the people they are trying to serve, we do not use these trips to “jump start” the faith or discipleship of believers from our church. Going on these trips is difficult and immature people can sabotage the trip for the rest of the team. We try to select the best-qualified team members.
- We discourage people from going on multiple short-term projects. We think they can get most of the benefit from one or two projects. If someone really wants to help people in need, we encourage them to relocate to live among the people they are trying to help. An exception would be those who have a special skill that is highly needed like agriculture, dentistry, or surgery.
- Even if someone can raise most of the money needed for a short-term trip, we normally ask team members to contribute ten percent of the cost of the trip personally.
Other Posts on this Topic:
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 1: Spiritual Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 2: Character Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 3: Service Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 4: Attitude Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 5: Ministry Skill Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 6: Strategy Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 7: Knowledge Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 8: Cultural Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 9: Team Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 10: Safety Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 11: Logistical and Packing Preparation
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 12: Thriving Spiritually on the Field
- Preparing for a Short-Term Mission Trip, Post 13: Capturing the Lessons Learned
- Six guidelines on how to select overseas partnerships
- Ten Essential Travel Tools
From the Experts:
Lee Worden, Director of Outreach,Community Bible Church: Preparing and Sending Short-Term Mission Teams
Helpful Books on this Topic:
Other topics in this series:
- Mobilize and educate the church to serve outside of its walls and lead them in praying for the nations
- Strategically allocate the church’s missions funds
- Select, promote, coordinate, train, lead, and debrief short-term missions trips
- Recruit, select, train, send, and support long-term missionaries from our church
- Create and coordinate evangelism and service projects in our community
- Recruit, develop, and send church planters from my church