Forming the team

The first step in putting together a short-term mission team is to share the opportunity with others. Prepare a trip summary sheet to invite your congregation and other interested persons to consider joining the mission trip.

Include the following information on your summary sheet:

Location
Dates

Nature of the trip and any specific skills needed
  • Describe the ministry or task you plan to do.
  • Example: We will serve alongside church members in the VBS ministry. We will plan to help construct a new church building. We would like to have several persons with experience in construction to be a part of this team.
Purpose of the trip
  • Describe the larger purpose of your mission experience.
  • Example: Discover how God is working through the believers in Mexico. Encourage and learn from our missionaries and sisters and brothers in Mexico. Encourage our church family back home to pray for and support missions.
Cost
  • Include the total estimated cost per person. 
  • The cost should include travel, food/lodging, training weekend, immunizations, etc.
Leaders and contact information
Describe how to apply for the trip (who to contact, deadline, etc.)


Sample summary sheet

North Africa
Tentative dates: June 21 – July 6, 2015 or July 6    20, 2015

North Africa is one of the last great frontiers of the 10/40 window. Some of the most unreached people groups remaining on the face of the earth reside in this predominantly Muslim region. North Africa is said to be 99% Muslim, with less than 1,000 known believers and barely 200 mission workers in this nation of 31 million people. It is illegal to convert to Christianity, yet the good news of Jesus is going forth and by the power of the Spirit the Church is being established! This is a strategic location for Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) as they look toward sending future long-term workers into North Africa.

The need: 
A team of approximately 15 persons to do work projects at a developing orphanage in a small village. This is one of only two Christian orphanages in the country. There are needs for masonry work, agricultural work, painting, and direct work with children in the orphanage and the village.

Who can go? 
We are looking to send up to 15 persons. All generations, from youth to older adults are encouraged to participate; minimum age is 13. Youth ages 13-17 will be considered if a parent/guardian will accompany them on the trip.

Estimated cost: $1300-1600 per person (includes training, travel, lodging, and food)

To apply, contact team leader _______________________ at _____________.

Additional details:
You will need a current passport, valid for at least six months after your return. It generally takes six weeks to receive a passport. Applications and instructions are available at travel.state.gov under “Passport Services."

All adults are required to have up-to-date tetanus, polio, and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) immunizations. In addition, we recommend Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid immunizations. See your doctor four to six weeks before your trip if possible. Visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at cdc.gov for more information.

You are required to have medical coverage while on assignment. Check with your provider to be sure you are covered while overseas.

Do not bring clothing with Christian logos or symbols; dress conservatively and modestly, out of respect for North African culture. (Anything sleeveless, tight, low-cut, high-slit, or midriff-baring is not appropriate.) Bring lightweight clothing suitable for work projects. Temperatures will be quite warm. Women need a long skirt to wear when going into town.

Lodging will be dormitory style at the orphanage.


Application and discernment of team members

One of the most important things a leader does is determine who will be on the team. Remember that you will be responsible to lead team members. The experience of the team and the lasting impression on those whom you go to serve will be determined by how the team works together and interacts with others.

Many people may want to go with the team, but some may not be ready to go. Team members need to have enough spiritual, emotional, and relational maturity to step up to the task before them. This is not the time to bring someone along that you are hoping will make a commitment to Christ while on the trip. Team members should have demonstrated the ability to be good church members and have quality relationships.

We have provided a sample application form and personal covenant that you may print or use as a guide in preparing your own application form. We suggest that you ask each applicant to provide one or more references along with their application. We have also provided a reference form, which you may use or adapt to help you gain more information about the potential team member. It is valuable to get references (even for members of your church) because it is helpful to get as much perspective as possible on a potential teammate. A reference from the pastor or leader in the church is helpful alongside one other reference.

An important part of team formation is gathering a discernment cluster to help you process applications. The discernment cluster should include you and at least two other individuals from your congregation. If possible, one should be a member of your congregation’s leadership team.

If you ask for team members to give reference forms, keep in mind that you should consider the information confidential and should not share it with the applicant or with those outside of your discernment cluster.

To assist you in knowing what to look for in discerning an individual’s readiness and ability to contribute to your team, we have listed a set of qualifications and a covenant that EMM uses for involvement in our short-term programs. If your discernment cluster has a particular concern about a specific situation or individual on your team and would like outside counsel, you may contact Human Resources at EMM.


Qualifications for short-term mission team members

Potential team members should consistently demonstrate:

1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ
  • A clear commitment to Christ (for at least one year prior to the trip)
  • Active participation in a congregation (for at least one year prior to the trip)
  • A sincere desire to grow and learn in relationship with Christ, other cultures, and team members
  • Desire to serve and share faith in Christ through both word and deed
  • Godly character, including being trustworthy, having integrity, and maintaining purity in relationships
2. A healthy relationship with family
  • Respect and love for family members
  • Ability to communicate constructively with family members and resolve differences in a positive manner
  • The support of family members to participate on a short-term assignment
3. Healthy relationships with others
  • Teachability – an openness to hear and see another person’s perspective
  • Respect/honor for authority
  • Commitment to live and work in a team or communities of accountability
  • Willingness to work out differences in relationships with sensitivity
4. Self-understanding, strong character
  • Emotional stability (generally not given to extreme highs or lows)
  • Maturity in adapting to different situations
  • Flexibility in adjusting to a change in schedule and living conditions
  • Accurate perception of personal strengths and weaknesses

Building relationships

After your team has formed, begin building and/or strengthening your relationships before you head to your outreach location.

Depending on the size of your congregation and/or the make-up of your team, the existing level of relationship will vary. But it is important for your team to have opportunities to get to know each other better and bond as a team before the team experience actually begins.

Participating in the training weekend will be one opportunity, but we strongly encourage you to plan for at least two other occasions for your team to spend some time together. Any opportunity your team has to get together, whether it is for prayer and planning for your trip or simply a fun activity, will greatly benefit your team. Consider getting together for a meal or movie that relates to your mission trip location. Go bowling together, or have a game night. You may want to designate an activity planner to assist you in these details.

Note: One of the sessions during the short-term mission training weekend will be “Sharing your story.” This is a time for your team members to hear each other’s faith stories. You will need to ask the team to prepare for this before coming to the training weekend. The preparation questions which will help team members to share their story are here.

Idea for a team get-together: Two weeks before you meet, divide your team into groups of two or three and assign a particular research topic related to your outreach. Encourage team members to use the internet, possibly the local library, and perhaps your church resource center. Then on the night you get together have each team report and “teach” the others about what they have learned.

What are some of your ideas for how to help your team build relationships?


Delegating responsibility

Now that your team has formed and you are starting to get to know each other better, you may want to delegate some specific responsibilities to other team members according to their gifts, interests, and abilities. Listed below are some ideas you may find helpful as you consider how to involve your team members in specific responsibilities. Use them to the extent that they are helpful to your team.

Prayer and praise reporter
A person designated to stay in contact with the team’s home prayer coordinator. He or she sends prayer and praise items via email back to the prayer coordinator at least every three days while the team is on outreach. Remember the need to write carefully when serving in sensitive locations.

Activity planner
Helps to organize team-building activities, fundraisers, etc., prior to and after your team’s trip.

Luggage and/or people counter
Counts all luggage every time the team is ready to travel. It is helpful to have a count for suitcases and another count for carry-on luggage. This person also counts team members to make sure nobody is left behind!

Devotional coordinator and/or worship leader
Coordinates the daily team devotional and/or worship time for the team. See section six for team devotional guides.

Meal organizer
Plans meals, organizes meal preparation and cleanup assignments.

Treasurer 
Carries team's money, keeps track of expenses, saves all receipts, and prepares financial report (if needed).

Photographer
Takes pictures on behalf of the team (particularly in situations where it would be insensitive to have a group of people all taking pictures, like in a worship service, or pictures of children begging in the street). Photographer should offer to share pictures with team members upon return.

Team medic
Puts together and carries a team first-aid kit. The medic should also be aware of any special medical needs of team members.

Gift coordinator 
Purchases small gifts ahead of time to be given to the hosts.

Journal keeper 
Asks team members to take turns writing about team activities and impressions in the team journal (one person may write for the team each day); distributes copies of the journal to all team members upon return to the U.S.

Thank you note person
Keeps track of names and addresses of all hosts, churches, host families, etc., and asks team members to write the thank you notes.

Translator
Someone fluent (or at least somewhat knowledgeable) in the local language who can translate for the team.
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