Have you ever felt strongly compelled be part of something great only later to realize you were extremely unprepared for it? The call of missions is indeed a great calling. God certainly calls some to spend long-term amounts of time on mission away from their home. He also calls others to join His mission through short-term capacities. Both calls require preparation.
Short-term missions—individuals and teams joining a long-term missionary’s vision and strategy for advancing the gospel among particular places and peoples—requires much preparation in order to be most effective.
While there may be times when a mission effort can be pulled together quickly, most often the preparation requires many months. No rigid timeline exists for short-term missions, but there are some general steps that allow a team to prepare well in advance in order to maximize the impact of the team with the strategy of the host missionary. Here is a suggested timeline that can be used as a guide:
- 10 to 12 months prior–determine assignment
- 9 months prior—determine team leader(s)
- 9 months prior—publicize mission effort
- 6 to 9 months prior—recruit team/receive volunteers, deposit due
- 6 to 9 months prior—contact travel agent to begin searching ticket prices
- 6 to 9 months prior—schedule initial info meeting, collect bi-monthly or quarterly payments
- 6 months prior—apply for passport and check requirement for visas
- 6 months prior—plan team meetings and meet monthly to discuss general mission prep
- 3 to 4 months prior—purchase plane tickets
- 3 to 4 months prior—get immunizations (shots!) if necessary
- 3 to 4 months prior—team meetings should become more specialized according to what the team will be doing on the field
- 2 months prior—develop prayer team
- 4 weeks prior—plan commissioning service for team
- 1 week prior—hold commission service
- 1 week or month after—plan celebration time with team and/or church
May the Lord use our preparation in short-term missions
to have lasting impact among places and peoples in need of knowing Jesus.
 Disaster Relief is an example of mission efforts that take place quickly, but even then, preparation and training have occurred months and even years prior.