Being A Team Leader Of A Short-Term Mission Team

Short-term trips are a major part of the modern fulfillment of God’s Great Commission. Done well, short-term missions can be a God glorifying event for the sending church and the receiving ministry. Done poorly, it can be a disaster for both. Fair or not, much of that burden falls on the shoulders of the local church’s appointed leader of the short-term mission team.

The leader of the short-term mission team must be called by God, supported by church leadership, and have a heart to serve. The short-term missions team is called to be sent by the domestic congregation to bless the foreign culture and serve the long-term ministry. The leader of the short-term team has a labor-intensive job which starts long before boarding a plane and ends many weeks after return.

Your short-term missions trip should start and end with prayer. Months before you go, ask your church and the families of your participants to pray daily. Pray for your home church, your mission team, the ministry you will serve, and the nationals you will encounter. Pray regularly as a group.

Do your research. If possible, contact the fulltime ministry in advance. Ask them to share details about your accommodations, conditions, and ministry. Do research on the internet. If there is a sending agency, ask them questions. Get prepared and make sure the church and family staying behind has all the information. Mentally and spiritually prepare your team.

Ask the fulltime ministry you are serving if you can bring anything for the ministry or for their families. Check with the Center for Disease Control to find out about required and recommended vaccinations. See what type of travel advisories are put out by the U.S. State Department. Make sure everyone has a passport and correct visa documentation. Study your Bible as a group and prepare your hearts to serve.

First and foremost, you are there to God and benefit the fulltime ministry. With the heart of a servant, avail you and your mission team to go above and beyond. Serve exactly as you are instructed, without challenging the fulltime missionaries or national leaders. Offer to serve those ministering fulltime in a personal way. Treat them to a nice meal. Offer to watch their kids, or clean their house.

Serve your short-term teammates. Many of your teammates may be struggling with homesickness, culture shock, or faith issues. Pray with and for them. Have a daily time to study the Scriptures and process together. Make sure they are drinking lots of water, sleeping, and eating. Many people who have never left their home country are shocked by what they see. Help them process and serve well while in the host country.

As technology and time allows the team leader should attempt to keep the home church and supporters informed of ministry activities. God has called you to go, but he has called them to pray and support your efforts. If your situation allows, keep a trip log on social media so your home church knows best how to pray. A picture and a few words on a blog, Facebook, or Twitter keeps people focused on glorifying God through prayer.

Once you are back from your short-term mission trip let your home church and supporters know how it went. Provide a short video. Write thank you letters. Make a brief missions presentation at church. Keep the missions high going both on your team and in your church. Use the experience to build on. Expand your church’s global outreach with additional trips and by increasing service in your local community.

Pray for all those involved. Pray God would use the experience to raise up new short-term and long-term missionaries from your church. Pray the nationals you served saw Christ in your actions. Now that you have a taste of the ministry, pray for the fulltime missionaries and the ministry you served alongside. Pray God would continue to use you and others to glorify him by sending and going on mission.

Prayerfully consult your church leadership about returning to the same ministry with a mission team next year. Seek direction from God about going to the same location or serving in a new culture. Help young people in your church learn about missions internship. Attend missions conferences. Plan a missions conference or Sunday school class on missions at your own church. Provide missions books for your congregation to read. Learn how God wants you to promote missions further.

The team leader of a short-term mission team can let things happen or he can make things happen. Prayerfully seek God’s guidance as to how God can be best glorified though your church’s involvement in missions. Your church leadership and God’s wisdom should be sought, but be willing to put in the time, prayer, and effort to make your church’s missions experience a good one.

It all may seem like too much work and pressure. But, if a team leader has a heart sold out for God’s glory in the world, he can help create a Great Commission culture in his church and on his short-term mission team. A short-term mission team led by a team leader seeking God’s glory will find it at home and around the globe.