Friday, January 13, 2012

Are There Qualifications For Serving God?

I get some variation of the question all the time about who should go on a short-term mission (STM) trip. Should non-believers be allowed to go? Should there be requirements or just a sign up? If there are requirements, what should they be? There are probably as many different opinions to these questions as there are people

Above were mentioned many questions to consider. We'll address those ideas in just a moment, but let's lay some groundwork. First, we have to understand that there is a balance with STM trips. On one hand they can be a great catalyst for change, on the other hand they can require great spiritual maturity. President Kennedy told us to "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." It is okay to think about what a STM trip can do for your participant and not just what can your participant bring to the team. But how do you know where that balance is?

Here are some specific factors that I consider when deciding whether to open a STM trip to everyone or have people apply:

1. What does your host say? If they require mature believers, that is what you should bring.
2. How far from home will you be and how long will you be gone? The further you are from home and the longer you are gone, the more mature the person needs to be.
3. What is the nature of the ministry? Does the ministry activity require a faith in Jesus?
4. How "American friendly" is the host country. The more accustomed to hosting Americans and understanding your host culture is, the more leeway you have in selecting members.

If you plan to use an application process to screen applicants, here are some qualities to look for when determining qualifications for the trip:

1. A person of the Word. Does the person model a desire to study and live the life the Bible describes as that of a Christ follower?
2. A person of prayer. The applicant should model a life of prayer in his or her lifestyle as well as be someone who turns to prayer immediately when faced with trouble or adversity.
3. A person of love. Is the person caring and loving towards others?
4. Teachable. Is the person humble and ready to learn?
5. Selfless servant. Is the person a servant? Is he or she the first one to volunteer for the job nobody wants, or does he or she always have to have the glamour position?
6. Flexible. Can the applicant adapt to different situations and get along well with others who are different from them?

If the size of your church and program allows, you should have opportunities for a range of people. It is great to have at least one trip each year on which anyone can go. Then you may have two more categories of difficulty and length for those who have participated before and demonstrated a life on mission with Jesus even at home.
One other thing to consider is a Code of Conduct document. This document should lay out expectations for behavior and provide a range of consequences in a way that does not limit prohibited offenses to what is listed, and that still allows you to handle each situation individually.

Questions for the author? Contact Tory at or 520-404-0841.

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