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A Standard of Excellence for Short Term Mission

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]When it comes to a standard of excellence for short term mission work, many newbies feel that good intentions and a positive outlook are what you need to make  lasting difference.

The problem is that they are wrong, really  wrong.

Sure, good intentions and positivity are very helpful, but we all know people who have a  great attitude but make horrible mistakes. Any soccer team can all smile and like hanging out with one another, but they still need to score more goals to win the world cup.

What are the goal posts for Short Term Mission?

In order to check if we are effective, we need to know if we have scored a goal. That means that we need to evaluate our work. And it is best to get an evaluation from someone who knows a thing or two about what we are trying to do. Check in with a recognized expert in the field. Your mom may think you are awesome, but that doesn’t mean you are…

A standard of excellence for Short Term Mission

A tool I have used for many years is the very helpful EFC Code of Best Practices. The code helps to set a minimum standard of preparation for teams and individuals engaging in international mission.

When I began training, and then started using this tool, I knew I was sadly lacking in many areas. I started small, worked on improving what I was doing well. I started adding a new element here and there, and over time I created a killer process for developing the best STM teams. Hosts began to notice the difference, they loved what they saw!

Check them out for yourself, examine your own preparation process against the standards, and contact me if you want to compare notes.

Or, if you want a much more interesting way to reach the standard, you may want to take the course. It is all about practical steps to reach each of these lofty goals without feeling like you are back in school 🙂

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Section 1: Aims and Objectives

1.1 A Short-Term Mission program will have a defined purpose within Christian mission. 1.2 A Short-Term Mission program will have clear and realistic aims and objectives, which include viability, expectations of outcomes, and consideration of how the program serves the long-term objectives of all those involved. 1.3 The benefits to, and responsibilities of, the participant, the sending organization, the sending local church, the host organization and the host local church will be clearly defined and communicated. 1.4 Partnerships will be established, as far as possible, with host local churches and communities. These relationships, in the context of unity love, will be defined in terms of agreed-upon priorities, ownership, and expectations. 1.5 Appropriate sending local church involvement will be sought. A partnership will be developed, as far as is feasible, between the agency, participant and sending local church. 1.6 There will be a commitment to the participant to provide opportunities for personal and spiritual development throughout the experience.

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Section 2: Publicity, Selection and Orientation


2.1 Publicity materials will be accurate, truthful and used with integrity. 2.2 Publicity will clearly represent the ethos and vision of the sending organization. It will not reflect negatively on the host culture or ministry. It will also define the purpose of the program in the terms of service, discipleship and vocation.


2.3 The application process, including timeline, all financial obligations and use of funds, will be clear and thorough. 2.4 A suitable selection process will be established, including selection criteria and screening. A pastoral care element will be included, regardless of whether or not the individual is accepted as a short-term participant. 2.5 It is essential that there is disclosure of the relevant details concerning the short-term participant between the church, agency and field.


2.6 Appropriate orientation and training will be given prior to departure, and/or after arrival on the field. Team leaders will be briefed on the orientation and training provided. 2.7 Preparatory information will be provided as early and as fully as possible. 2.8 Placement decisions and changes will be made with integrity and communicated clearly to all involved.

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Section 3: Field Management and Pastoral Care

3.1 Clear task aims, objectives, and job descriptions will be developed jointly by the sending and hosting leadership. 3.2 Home and field based communication and reporting guidelines will be identified, implemented and reviewed. 3.3 Mutually defined lines of authority, supervision, communication, responsibility and accountability will be established and implemented through regular reporting and/or meetings. 3.4 Pastoral Care and support structures will be provided, and respective responsibilities clarified with all parties. 3.5 Opportunities for spiritual, personal, and character development will be provided, promoted and pursued. 3.6 Participants will agree to follow guidelines on behaviour, relationships and financial management that are appropriate to the host culture. 3.7 Policies and procedures covering finances, healthcare and insurance, medical contingencies, security and evacuation, acts of terrorism or political violence, stress management and conflict resolution, misconduct, discipline, and grievances, will be established, communicated and implemented as is appropriate. 3.8 Where and when requested, necessary equipping and training of hosts will be provided.

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Section 4: Re-entry support, evaluation and program development

4.1 Re-entry debriefing and support will be seen as an integral part of the short-term package. 4.2 Re-entry preparation, including field evaluation, will begin prior to return. 4.3 The mission agency and sending local church will assist the participant through re-entry, including facing unresolved personal issues, and future opportunities and direction in discipleship and service. 4.4 Evaluation of the mission agencies procedures and performance will be filled out by the participant. (The agencies procedures will also be evaluated by local sending churches). 4.5 On the request of the host organization, an assessment of the host organization will be carried out in an appropriate way by the participant. 4.6 The results of evaluations will be communicated to relevant managers, for the improvement of future projects and the keeping of permanent records. Confidentiality, integrity and accuracy are required.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_tour][vc_column_text]

Most people will never read this far down the page…

Did you make it to the end?  Really!?! Congratulations! you are one of the few – you probably lead STM for a living!  Lets get in touch so we can talk shop 🙂

If you are still reading and at first glance this standard of excellence for short term mission seems daunting, realize this is the standard that international hosts would dream of for their ideal team. Read through it again, find the one or two areas where you can begin start there.

Where should you begin?


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