Anything being done repetitively on a large scale needs to grapple with the idea of “excellence.” Short-term missions is no exception.
The idea of standards of excellence that are
adopted industry-wide is an idea that I began to push a decade ago. The result is this organization. There are three main reasons for standards of excellence:
1. the line between a STM that changes lives and qualifies as
“missions” and one that is just a fun outing is becoming increasingly blurred.
2. we have a biblical responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission and need to be purists about that.
3. as the # of folks in the market increases, a number of them doing slipshod work, the potential for a scandal or a disaster of one kind or another increases. We can either wait for it and get policed from the outside, or we can self-police.
I originally posited the following eight standards – the seven standards our ad hoc committee chose were pretty close to these:
: Mission trips are organized according to a predetermined
Short-term missions usually should be based
upon a partnership between host churches/agencies and sending
churches/agencies. Church partnerships
should be brokered by a third party and should usually last no longer than
three years lest dependency set in.
Sending church and host church teams must be educated concerning the
dynamics of true partnership.
Appropriate safety precautions are
taken. To the extent possible, known
risks are disclosed to participants.
Short-term missionaries must be screened to
match their mission.
Sending church teams must undergo thorough
and mission-appropriate preparation.
thorough and expectations clarified.
Leadership: Sending church leadership must be trained and
Follow up: Evangelism planning should incorporate a
thorough follow-up plan which has been formulated in conjunction with host
church partners. New disciples are
integrated into the local church. Sending church teams execute a plan for
cementing life change.