Sending Short-Term Mission Teams

The LCMS Short-Term Mission Program is sending more volunteers on mission trips and filling more field requests than ever before.

2023 was the biggest year yet for the LCMS Short-Term Mission Program, which sent more volunteers on mission trips and filled more field requests than ever before.

Short-term mission trips offered by the program in 2024 are close to filling up as well. The LCMS has allocated $477,694 in grant money in 2024 to support this program.

The Latin America and the Caribbean Region (LAC) is one of the places where the demand for short-term volunteers is highest. And there is no shortage of willing volunteers. Even more teams and volunteers could be sent if there were additional volunteer coordinators to plan short-term mission trips.

“In 2023, we still were not able to fill all the requests,” said Erin Alter, director of the LCMS Short-Term Mission Program. “The field still has more ways they can imagine using short-term volunteers. … We haven’t reached capacity yet. Adding more volunteer coordinators will allow us to do even more.”

To increase the LAC’s capacity to host short-term mission trips, missionary Dana Stigdon will join Erin Mackenzie as a volunteer coordinator. Stigdon and Mackenzie will divide and conquer, with Mackenzie serving as the coordinator for the LAC and Stigdon serving as the coordinator for the Dominican Republic.

Since 2016, the program has sent hundreds of volunteers to the international mission field to support missionaries and local partner churches in their work to preach Christ crucified.

“Short-term mission trips are good for getting congregations to ask themselves, ‘Have we ever thought about adopting a missionary? Maybe we could go on a short-term mission? Perhaps we could start praying regularly for a missionary?’” said Alter.

Short-term mission trips take place all over the world, in all four LCMS mission regions. Some trips are intended for congregations; others are intended to be educational or are geared especially to church workers or people interested in long-term mission work.

Over the past few years, the LAC has worked to develop mission education trips, where participants go and learn about mission work. In the last two years, the LAC has hosted three mission education trips specifically for seminary students.

“There are two goals for these seminary trips. The first is recruitment, so future pastors can consider international missionary service,” said Alter. “The second is education. [Participants gain] a better understanding of international mission work, what our theology of mission is and how Lutheran congregations can be part of international work. It’s a great thing for them to be equipped with — they know from their own experience that there are ways their church can be involved.”

Now, with the addition of Stigdon to the Short-Term Mission team, more of God’s people will be able to volunteer, support our international missionaries, learn about mission work and be a part of the LCMS’ work to spread the Gospel, plant Lutheran churches and show mercy all over the world.

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