Jesus’s command to makes disciples of all nations is for all believers (Matt 28:19). While we want every Christian to be a disciple-maker, not everyone in the local church will necessarily leave their home for gospel mission (Acts 13:1-3). Some go; the rest send. Some go long-term; others can go short-term. Short-term mission teams can be a valuable asset to assist those making disciples in far places. Enlisting proper short-term team members is an essential part of ensuring we have an effective and faithful long-term mission impact. Here are some suggestions for enlisting your short-term mission team.
- Communicate clearly to the church the mission. Pastors play a key role in communicating and giving “stage time” to the mission that the church will engage in. Use as many (creative) communication platforms as necessary to inform the church of the upcoming mission opportunity.
- Work closely with the pastor(s) in the process of recruiting or approving team members. As the shepherds of the church, pastors need to be involved in the decision process of those who participate in the mission effort.
- Plan an informational meeting. Those who express interest need to know key details (as much as possible) in finalizing their decision. Schedule an informational group meeting with interested persons. Cover such details as:
- Purpose of the mission (as it aligns with the strategy of the host missionaries)
- Cost (travel, food, lodging, ministry expenses, travel insurance)
- Accommodations (lodging, travel, food, etc.)
- Expectations of team members (health abilities, type of work, behavior, etc.)
- Q&A time
- Schedule interviews and/or an application process. Whether through an interview with those interested or by filling out an application, this step is important in making sure that those desiring to go are a right fit for the mission effort. Issues covered in the interview and/or application include:
- Personal conversion story.
- Description of personal growth (e.g., prayer, Bible reading, church involvement, personal witnessing).
- Explanation of why the individual desires to go on this mission effort.
- Look for team players. There are no lone rangers in missions.
- Gain a feel for the personality of the person and ability to relate well with others.
- Willingness to be flexible and serve as needed.
- Physical and emotional stability.
- Inform each interested person of the decision. In many cases, the answer for an interested mission team member will be “yes, welcome to the team.” On occasion, the team leader, pastors and other decision makers will have to inform interested persons that the answer is “wait”.
Short-term teams provide valuable help to long-term missionaries when those teams are carefully selected and properly trained. While not every Christian will be called to live far from “home,” every Christian is called to make disciples of all nations. One way to faithfully live out this disciple-making call is by being part of carefully selected short-term mission teams.