Short-term missions - STM


"All mission trips have the same themes: Love the people; sweat; love the people; spend money; eat weird food; love the people. . . ."
   —Dave Bucher, missionary to Saipan

Planning and preparing for a Christian mission trip . . . and enjoying a successful one

Short term mission experiences are those cross-cultural missionary assignments ranging from one week to up to two years.

From a handful of people who were involved annually a half century ago, short-term missions now draw more than a million Americans each year.1 Is this a good thing? What can you learn on a missions trip?

Why short-term missions? "I support short-term missions," says noted author Philip Yancey. "Despite their drawbacks, such trips provide two distinct cultures a taste of the harmony that exists between members of the Body of Christ." Mission trips also give prospective future missionaries a taste of life on the field.

Every organization has a title for its short term missions program. Within the Church of the Nazarene, for example, thousands of people go on one- to two-week "Work & Witness" trips which may be focused on construction projects or evangelism events or medical service. Two hundred or so people serve each year as Mission Corps volunteers in assignments ranging from 90 days to two years. (The old acronym NIVS stood for Nazarenes In Volunteer Service.)

You should prepare yourself spiritually, mentally and financially for your short term missions experience. Here are resources for your short term mission preparation.

Short term mission mobilization and recruiting

  • Testimonial: Summer ministry miracles [ read testimonial ]
  • Exodus 24 and its implications for short-term missions [ read article ]
  • News story on the first Nazarene short-term construction team (1966) [ read news story ]

Some opportunities

Short term trip training: Preparing to go on an STM (short-term mission)

  • Raising money

    Planning: Travel issues

    Team and group dynamics: Being a short-term mission team member

    Crossing cultural barriers

    Spiritual preparation for short term missions

    Coming home: re-entry

    • Personal experiences
    • Don't forget to say "thanks" to your supporters: Mission trip follow-up thank you letters
      • Sample thank you written by a student who spent 8 weeks in the Caribbean (original had color photos printed on it; they are reproduced here in black and white to reduce file size) [ see letter ]
      • Thanks written on African-looking paper [ see letter ]

    Practical issues

    Links  Links to Internet short term missions resources

    Country information, airline flights, fund-raising, team preparation and more [ click here ]


    1Statistics for the Church of the Nazarene alone indicate that in a recent year almost 650 short-term Work & Witness mission teams had more than 10,000 participants who served from one to three weeks. That same year, there were about 250 Nazarenes serving as Mission Corps volunteers from 21-90 days on mission fields and another 250 people serving from 91 to 365 days. In addition, there were nearly 500 Nazarene university students worldwide who gave part of their a summer to volunteer service in various cross- cultural missionary efforts around the world.

    Interested in long-term missions service?

    Short term mission service is one component of how the church works to complete the Great Commission. However, the planting of clusters of churches and the development, nurturing and mentoring of local leaders is usually done most effectively by a career, long-term missionary force. [ read more ]

    SNU missions course materials and syllabi

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    Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132  |  Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658

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