Going on a short-term missions trip can be a life- and faith-transforming experience. It can enrich the way we view the world. It can cause us to rely on God more fully. It's an opportunity to develop deep relationships with our team and the people we serve.

A short-term missions experience can also involve weeks of physical and spiritual challenges. An unprepared team can wreak havoc on each other and the people they intend to serve.

To get the most out of a missions trip, we need to go prepared. Whether we're going on our own or with a team, the keys to preparation are here in this workbook. In this ten-week course, you will find

  • a concise summary of crosscultural principles
  • help in facing spiritual warfare
  • tips on avoiding a tourist mentality
  • spiritual preparation through individual or group Bible study
  • questions for individual reflection and group discussion

This revised and expanded edition includes updated content throughout and new chapters on facing risks, fears, and suffering, and making the most of the trip after returning home.

If you are planning to go on a short-term missions trip, don't leave home without working through this book!

“Tim Dearborn is extraordinarily wise. This workbook is an outstanding guide to help all Christians think more thoroughly about our mission in the world—wherever and however we serve. The questions in this manual are useful for each of us personally, for discussion groups, for congregations. They challenge our assumptions, upset our provincialisms, widen our horizons and deepen our visions. Most of all, this guide ushers us into following Jesus more faithfully—globally and locally.”

Marva Dawn, author of How Shall We Worship?

“This workbook is really a complete resource kit to help the short-term ministry team prepare themselves culturally and spiritually for their service. It provides just what is needed (and what we have lacked)—a program of preparation and reflection that will help turn the short-term ministry into preparation for a lifetime of service. Don’t leave home without it.”

Bill Dyrness, author of Changing the Mind of Missions

“Tim Dearborn’s very helpful workbook draws on over twenty-five years of experience in enabling the Western church to relate in partnership for mission with the church and mission groups in the non-Western world. The workbook focuses on the key issue in short-term missions: the challenge of crossing into a different culture. It leads the short-term mission aspirant through a practical and theoretically rigorous learning process. It enables the short-term mission team member to discern the richness of the gospel as experienced and lived out by people of many cultures. I commend this book warmly.”

Vinay Samuel, founder, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

“‘Mission preparation’ is a spiritually invigorating, powerfully pragmatic exposure to effective global ministry. Captured passions turn into lifelong commitments; resources are maximized toward relevant actions. Tim is sharing a lifetime of wisdom. Don’t leave home without it.”

Robert A. Seiple, US Special Ambassador for Religious Freedom (retired), and founder and president, Institute for Global Engagement

“This is the best tool I’ve seen for preparing individuals for the entire short-term mission experience. The topics covered prepare the soil of one’s heart to allow the transformation process to begin. Don’t let a team leave without working through it!”

Bennie Ingraham, short-term mission coordinator, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, and cochair, National Short-Term Mission Conference



1. The God of Mission
2. Learning to Delight in Differences
3. Embracing Change
4. Maximizing Personal Growth
5. Working Together as a Team
6. Communicating Clearly
7. Staying Spiritually Fresh
8. Preparing for Risks
9. Anticipating the Return Home
10. Making the Most of Your Trip Once You’re Home
Appendix 1: Leader's Guide for Each Session
Appendix 2: Recommended Reading and Additional Resources
Appendix 3: Language Acquisition Phrases and Cultural/Area Research Questions
Appendix 4: A Quick Guide to a Christian Theology of Suffering
Appendix 5: Bookmark and Journal Insert
Appendix 6: Debriefing Prayer of Examen


Tim Dearborn served for ten years as director for faith and development at World Vision International. He has also served as director of the Lloyd John Ogilvie Institute of Preaching and chair of the board for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Mission Theologians, as well as a pastor and professor of theology, mission, and social ethics. His books include Beyond Duty: A Passion for Christ, a Heart for Mission and The Local Church in a Global Future. Tim lives in Seattle with his wife, Kerry.

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