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Seven Standards of Excellence in Short-term Mission

May 14, 2018

Originally published by Hannah Nielsen on

Want to make sure the short-term mission program you’re considering is effective and of high quality?

Standards of Excellence in Short-term Mission (SOE) was developed by several hundred people in the short-term mission community who saw the need for standards in mission trips.

Today, entities show they are committed to excellent, effective short-term mission by adopting the Standards.

I am going to walk you through these seven standards that the SOE consists of.

1. God-Centeredness

An excellent short-term mission seeks first God’s glory and His kingdom, and is expressed through our:

  • Purpose: Centering on God’s glory and His ends throughout our entire short-term mission (STM) process
  • Lives: Sound biblical doctrine, persistent prayer and godliness in all our thoughts, words and deeds
  • Methods: Wise, biblical, and culturally appropriate methods which bear spiritual fruit

2. Empowering Partnerships

Short-term mission should establish healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners. This is expressed by:

  • Primary focus on intended receptors. Intended receptors are the people on the field who will receive the Goer-Guests’ service or mission activity. Intended receptors can also be aspects of God’s creation (animals, natural resources, etc.) and aspects of human creation (civic or corporate structures, oppressive systems, etc.)
  • Plans which benefit all participants
  • Mutual trust and accountability

3. Mutual Design

Mutual design means that short-term mission should collaboratively plan each specific outreach for the benefit of all participants. This is expressed by:

  • On-field methods and activities aligned to long-term strategies of the partnership
  • Goer-guests’ ability to implement their part of the plan. Goer-guests are those who go to the field to serve (i.e. all of the individuals or team members who are being sent, including team leaders).
  • Host Receivers’ ability to implement their part of the plan. Host Receivers are on-field persons who receive short-term missionaries (i.e. everyone at the on-field location: full-time missionaries, other expatriates, national pastors and local leaders, local nationals and any local organizations which they represent such as churches, civic organizations, NGOs, etc.)

4. Comprehensive Administration

An excellent short-term mission should also exhibit integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participants, and is expressed by:

  • Truthfulness in promotion, finances, and reporting results
  • Appropriate risk management
  • Quality program delivery and support logistics

5. Qualified Leadership

Short-term mission always includes screening, training and developing capable leadership for all participants. This is expressed by:

  • Character: Spiritually mature servant leadership
  • Skills: Prepared, competent, organized and accountable leadership
  • Values: Empowering and equipping leadership

6. Appropriate Training

Short-term mission should prepare and equip all participants for the mutually designed outreach. This is expressed by:

  • Biblical, appropriate, and timely training
  • On-going training and equipping (pre-field, on-field, post-field)
  • Qualified trainers

7. Thorough Follow-up

Lastly, an excellent short-term mission assures debriefing and appropriate follow-up for all participants. This is expressed by:

  • Comprehensive debriefing (pre-field, on-field, post-field)
  • On-field reentry preparation
  • Post-field follow-up and evaluation

Learn more about the Standards of Excellence by visiting their website.