Mission Team Training

1. Take a good look at what you already have.

Many of the essentials for fielding a well-prepared short-term mission team stay the same over the years. Your list might include timeless topics like servanthood, expectations, teamwork, responding to culture shock, and re-entry – as well as practical matters that may change and vary, such as site briefing, logistics, security, and fundraising.

Look around your church, ministry, or community for others with short-term mission experience who are wise, enthusiastic, and able to teach. Enlist them to help you design and deliver mission team training around these topics. Make your training interactive. Don’t give participants more information than they can digest. On the other hand, avoid making things up as you go. Be clear from the start on what the preparation process will entail and how much time it will require of those who participate.

You should also consult with any field partners with whom you are working. Be sure you are on the same page about the team and how they should be equipped. Your field partners may have some great suggestions and helpful tools for training the team.

2. Access materials online.

Standards of Excellence in Short Term Mission offers online and on-site training for logistics, budgeting, developing your own curriculum, leadership training, follow-up and more. They also offer a more extensive curriculum, The Next Mile and a resource page for resources including webinars, free downloads, articles, etc.

Building Church Leaders offers a customizable curriculum utilizing 500+ practical training tools to strengthen leaders, troubleshoot problems, and avoid common pitfalls. Designed to help a team prepare for the trip, navigate the challenges of cross-cultural relationships and team dynamics, and return with lasting relationships and personal transformation. It also offers downloadable articles previously published in Christianity Today and related publications and designed to equip mission teams.

3. Purchase books and materials.

STEM International (Short-Term Evangelical Missions) has a well-stocked online bookstore with many resources. Some of the most popular and helpful short-term mission resources include:

  • Short-term Missions Workbook: From Mission Tourists to Global Citizens, by Tim Dearborn
  • Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot and Cold Climate Cultures, by Sarah Lanier
  • Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing STM with Cultural Intelligence, by David Livermore
  • Ministering Cross-Culturally: An International Model for Developing Personal Relationships, by Lingenfelter and Mayers
  • Before You Pack Your Bags, Prepare Your Heart,  a Short-Term Mission Preparation Guide with 12 Bible Studies plus Trip Journal, by Cindy Judge
  • Bringing It Home: A Post-Trip Devotional Guide for International and Domestic Short-Term Mission Teams, by Jim Mersereau
  • Building Strategic Relationships, by Daniel Rickett

For a useful, basic training model that can be used with any team, consider the curriculum available from CultureLink, which also offers seminars to equip trainers in its use.

4. Consider visiting an exhibit or registering for a virtual tour

Before your trip, get a sense of what to expect. Several organizations offer interactive tours, both online and in person. See and feel what it’s like to grow up in poverty within a developing country. Hear real stories from around the globe. Discover how God offers hope. 

  • Poverty Encounter– an immersive exhibit that offers virtual tours of Guatemala, Haiti, Nepal, and Romania to educate guests of all ages on global poverty. Poverty Encounter is an initiative of Children’s Hunger Fund (Los Angeles, Dallas, San Antonio).
  • Real Life Exhibit– Medical Teams International hosts a permanent museum in Portland, OR. Virtual exhibits offer five distinct stories to explore refugee camps in Uganda, Bangladesh and Lebanon.
  • The Compassion Journey– traveling exhibit and digital immersive experiences available for attending or hosting. 
  • Pathways out of Poverty– Hope International asks you to consider the question: “Who is my neighbor?” As you journey through this multi-sensory exhibit, compelling audio and visuals work together to transport you from Lancaster, PA, into the stories of eight neighbors from around the world.

Even if the specific country you are visiting is not featured, it is a great opportunity for pre-field experience. 

Did you find this article helpful? Any suggestions you’d add? Send us an email at [email protected]

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