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

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

    Practical issues

    1Statistics for the Church of the Nazarene alone indicate that in a recent year almost 790 short-term Work & Witness mission teams had more than 10,000 participants who served from one to three weeks. That same year, there were almost 300 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.

    Links to Internet resources on short term missions

  • Larry Webb, retired missionary, forms Work & Witness teams from people all over the U.S. and Canada. Each year, he takes some of these "maverick" teams to Bolivia. For dates and information about his upcoming trips, call him at: 626-285-1011 or e-mail him:
  • Web sites promoting other opportunities
  • Project reports from local churches and districts
  • Resources
  • Philosophy and strategy
  • Fund raising
  • Speaking through an interpreter: Did he really say what I said?
  • Learning about your target country: Fodor's Travel Guides
  • Health issues and concerns
  • Emergency or crisis consulting
  • Tax information — IRS deductibility for U.S. taxpayers:
         What mission trip participants from the U.S.A. pay for their expenses while they are serving as volunteers with a non-profit organization is considered a tax deductible contribution. The Internal Revenue Service has allowed people to deduct out-of-pocket expenses directly related to voluntary service (including lodging and meals when an overnight stay is involved). To be sure you are getting the right tax deduction, check with your professional tax attorney or preparer.
         The monetary value of your time is not deductible.
  • Insurance and medical issues
  • LinksResources on witnessing, personal evangelism and conflict management

    Printed STM resources

    Nazarene Missions International has published a number of small paperback books on short term missions. In chronological order, these include:

    While these are all out-of-print, they can be obtained through used bookstores.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

    Cultural Anthropology    Introduction to Missions    Linguistics    Missions Strategies    Modern Missionary Movement (History of  Missions)    Nazarene Missions    Church Growth and Christian Missions    Theology of Missions    Traditional Religions    World Religions
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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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