This is an article from the March-April 2004 issue: Real Fools for God?

U.S. Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission

U.S. Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission

Current research indicates the United States is sending at least 1,000,000 short-term mission volunteers every year. These short-term volunteers are sent by 40,000 “sending entities” consisting of 35,000 churches, 3,700 agencies, and more than 1,000 schools. Yet the missiological validity of short-term mission has been rightly questioned on countless occasions–especially when it pertains to frontier mission work among unengaged and unreached peoples. The anecdotal evidence abounds on both sides of the fence: there are stories of scandal and selfishness; there are stories of success and indelibly changed lives. But until now, no “standards,” no “best practices” have existed to help mission strategists separate the wheat from the chaff.

Developed over the course of two years by more than 400 people from across the United States, the Standards of Excellence is a product of thousands of hours of work, discussion, and prayer. For the first time in U.S. history, a national code of ethics exists for short-term mission practitioners with a universal Seal of Approval that the public can use to identify programs striving for excellence.

The Seven Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission formalize the ethical and operating procedures many sending entities (churches, schools,and agencies) want to see standardized. By adopting and practicing these Standards, short-term practitioners earn the right to display the SOE Seal of Approval.

For the complete commentary explaining the heart of each Standard, visit the SOE website to read the comprehensive explanations and member pledges for each of the Seven Standards.

Roger Peterson is Executive Director of STEM Ministries and chairman of the board of directors for the Fellowship of Short-Term Mission Leaders, the organization facilitating the U.S. “Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission.”


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