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What do I do with my short term missions teams?

What do I do with my short term missions teams?

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Short term missions teams have played a prominent role in orphan care operations over the last few decades. While the presence of short term teams have presented both positive and negative outcomes for children in care, research has shown a direct link between short term teams and fundraising.

As your organization explores transition, you don’t want to leave these supporters behind and at the same time, you can’t compromise your ethic in caring for children.

Good practices for involving short term missions teams

  • TRAIN TEAM MEMBERS
    Going on a short term missions trip is a big deal and requires ample preparation for those that go overseas. Before the trip, ensure that all team members are trained in cross-cultural engagement, program-specific skills and child protection practices (as well as have them background checked). During the trip, carve out times for the team to receive education and learning on the ground, especially from host partners. 
  • SUPPORT SYSTEMS AROUND CHILDREN
    Perhaps the biggest change in your short term missions practice will be how you support vulnerable children. Due to the reality of both trauma and disrupted attachment, it is not advisable for foreign visitors to interact directly with children living in orphanages. This has been confirmed by professionals, research and the accounts of countless individuals that have left residential care. Instead, focus on supporting the systems that have a long term effect on the children you wish to impact. This includes being a blessing to parents, churches and community organizations rather than directly engaging and touching vulnerable children.
  • TURN TEAM MEMBERS INTO ADVOCATES
    The greatest potential impact that short term teams can make is in the stories that they bring back to the US. When there are issues in the community the team visited, those issues can be shared more broadly as these advocates rally resources and support to tackle those issues. Another way to support the overseas ministry is through fundraising opportunities beyond the short term trip. This approach truly turns the engagement from being a short term trip to a long term partnership.
  • DO NO HARM
    We’ve all heard about the harm that short term missions can do. There are some helpful practices to reduce the potential for harm. Listen to nationals and relinquish any expectation that the visitor is the leader. Promote safeguarding and accountability throughout the team and throughout the time. Don’t do something for someone else that they can do for themselves. Don’t feel as though you have to do something, learning and building relationships are sufficient. Don’t be affectionate with children that you don’t know, redirect them to their primary caregiver.  

In-depth resources for short-term missions teams

  • LOVE WISELY SHORT COURSE ON JOURNEYHOME
    Love Wisely provides an overview of key considerations for short term missionaries engaging with vulnerable children. In addition to the feature video (also embedded below), the JOURNEYHOME course includes additional training on interacting with children on your short term missions trip. Click here to start e-learning.
  • PROTECTING CHILDREN IN SHORT TERM MISSIONS
    This resource was developed by ACCI Missions and Relief. It was designed for those who are passionate about missions and engaging people in missions through short-term teams and are committed to pursuing God’s heart for children and vulnerable members of society in the context of global missions. Click here to access the manual.
  • SHORT TERM MISSIONS MANUAL
    The manual from Faith to Action Initiative is a comprehensive resource that provides guidance and better practice standards for short-term missions to ensure positive outcomes for vulnerable children, their families, and their communities. Click here to access the manual and related training.
  • WISE SHORT TERM MISSIONS BOOK
    This book from the Christian Alliance for Orphans provides guidelines and principles for international service trips intending to avoid harm and maximize benefits for orphaned and vulnerable children. Click here to access the short book.

Watch the training video “Love Wisely”

Love Wisely from 1MILLIONHOME and YWAM Kona on Vimeo.