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Partnership Values for Short Term Teams

Posted by Sarah Bourns , 03 June 2013 · 1707 views

Happy June! As we enter this summer season of launching short-term teams around the globe, I thought I would gingerly open this can of worms and share some of the ways we at Simpson University are seeking to do it well (Lord help us!). There are certainly plenty of ways to do it wrong, and I'm sure we've all seen or been part of a bad trip sadly. But hopefully those experiences have led us to ask tough questions and develop principles and standards to guide us, instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Following is our list of 10 Partnership Values that lay the foundation for developing our Simpson "WorldSERVE" mission projects which, we pray, leads to a win/win for both the field and our college students. Yes, these are rather idealistic, but we'd rather set the bar too high when there is so much at stake. And no, these are not exhaustive and will probably be tweaked and refined for years to come. (Lord give us grace to impact many lives through this tool of short-term team discipleship!)

Simpson University WorldSERVE Partnership Values

We believe that short-term mission projects are only as effective as they are a catalyst to advance the long-term mission strategy on the field, AND to affect long-term change in the individual who goes. Because we are equally committed to transformation in our students and among the lost, we aspire to build our field partnerships around the following foundational values:

*Invitation: We wait to be invited by field workers who desire for us to join them in their work. We will not invite ourselves or assume that we are needed/wanted everywhere. We won’t just go where we want to go, but where we have been requested to help with a specific field ministry. We will watch to see where God is working and join Him!

*Vision: We long for unreached peoples to hear the Good News. We desire for our students to minister alongside field workers who are directly reaching the lost, therefore we are willing to go to dark and difficult places to bring light and further Christ’s church. We pray to be part of the work in Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Atheistic nations.

*Strategy: We endeavor to serve merely as tools for furthering the impact of our field partners. We do not wish to carry out our own plans or have ministry tasks created for us, but rather to assist in strategic opportunities for accomplishing the long-term goals on the field. We will humbly accept any assignment that will advance Kingdom work.

*Relationships: We are excited to be part of ministry projects that put our teams in direct contact with local people. We are willing to do labor-related activities but also desire to build new friendships and have meaningful conversations. We desire that our daily assignments will allow us to interact with and invest in peer relationships during our short stay.

*Development: We believe that even short-term teams can be part of development work not merely relief and charity projects. We aim to come as learners rather than heroes and not perpetuate a wide separation between "Giver" and "Receiver". We do not wish to do something local people can/should do themselves or create unhealthy dependencies.

*Mobilization: We pray our students will be inspired to join God in his global mission long-term. We seek relationships with field workers who will actively share their passion for the lost, pour into our students, and mobilize them to find their purpose in reaching the unreached. We expect our students to be discipled and challenged by our field partners.

*Learning: We desire for our students to have a significant educational experience “outside the classroom.” We train faculty and staff mentors to guide them in their cross-cultural learning and ask that our field partners would also expose them to the history, food, religion, and traditions of the area, teaching them to have God’s heart for all people.

*Community: We encourage personal growth to happen within community. We stress to our teams the importance of praying together, spending time in God’s word, debriefing regularly, and sharing joys and struggles. We expect that their daily schedule and accommodations would allow for this necessary aspect of doing “life together” on the field.

*Organization: We value safety, accountability, and structure for our teams and appreciate field workers who do as well. We desire clear and consistent communication (as possible) throughout the pre-trip planning, updates while on the field, and honest feedback afterwards, so that we may better our partnership together.

*Stewardship: We aim to be prudent with our donors’ financial gifts while also providing necessary resources for the work. We strive to operate on a budget that would total less than $50 per person per day on the field.

Ok, there you have it... I'm feeling quite vulnerable right now... But honestly, what would you add? change? push back on?

We also have another list of what our field workers can expect from us as far as the kind of leadership, training, and planning we provide goes. I'd be happy to share that too if you'd like.


  • Kent Copley, Don Sappington, Ruthie Hankins and 1 other like this



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Amy Roedding
Jun 04 2013 12:23 PM
Sarah - I have been telling people about the amazing leadership you have brought to the short term trips for Simpson students. These are excellent values - I am thinking that a lot of our C&MA workers would want to know that you would like an invite to their field if there is a need that Simpson students could fill and yet meet your values at the same time.

I am wondering if there are too many values? Like for me I would want my students to be able to be able to remember or state what our values are....are there some that could merge together. The organization one - I am thinking is a given that I would expect. Does that make sense?

You have been such an encouragement to me, Sarah, to see your excellence in leading this program at Simpson and your intentionality in transformational leadership!
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Robert Sanford
Jun 05 2013 05:23 AM
Great Values! My short-term missions experiance (AYC back in the day) changed everything. I would tell people it did not change what I know, but it changed how I think. So excited to hear about your work.
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Don Sappington
Jun 05 2013 10:57 AM
Good on you Sarah. You know I celebrate all you are doing and the leadership you have brought to the WorldSERVE teams. Thanks too for your openness to coordinate with the Partnership Office and our IM workers on the field. We stand ready to assist you in every way.
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Sarah Bourns
Jun 05 2013 11:32 AM

Sarah - I have been telling people about the amazing leadership you have brought to the short term trips for Simpson students. These are excellent values - I am thinking that a lot of our C&MA workers would want to know that you would like an invite to their field if there is a need that Simpson students could fill and yet meet your values at the same time.

I am wondering if there are too many values? Like for me I would want my students to be able to be able to remember or state what our values are....are there some that could merge together. The organization one - I am thinking is a given that I would expect. Does that make sense?

You have been such an encouragement to me, Sarah, to see your excellence in leading this program at Simpson and your intentionality in transformational leadership!


Wow Amy! Thanks so much! And to hear this kind of encouragement from someone I admire like you makes my day. You're absolutely right that it would be awesome for the students to be able to recite the values, so I will merge some and figure how how they can be memorable (maybe a cheesy pneumonic :) .... or not...). And yes, if you know of any workers who would like to invite a team, please connect us!
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Sarah Bourns
Jun 05 2013 11:34 AM

Good on you Sarah. You know I celebrate all you are doing and the leadership you have brought to the WorldSERVE teams. Thanks too for your openness to coordinate with the Partnership Office and our IM workers on the field. We stand ready to assist you in every way.

Thanks Don! I appreciate your partnership so much! And I have a post-it next to my desk reminding me to call you back... soon!!
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Sarah, you are great! Thank you for all you are doing to make eternal impact on young lives and the Kingdom around the world!! I love the partnership Envision has with WorldSERVE and pray for greater continued connection in the future. Thanks for being a solid advocate for healthy short-term missions!
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Sarah, I'm going to take the risk of being a very late comment-maker to this good post. I've been traveling much over the past two months and admit to falling behind on keeping up with this blog. But I chime in because I would want you to hear from an IM leader. You list values here that are encouraging because they will help your students see and contribute to impact that is sustainable overseas. They ought also to be an encouragement to our international workers, who would do well to partner with students like yours. This is one IM leader who will be encouraging teams to do so!
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