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Team Leader Manual

For Short-Term Mission Teams

The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod

Office of International Mission




to the LCMS Short-Term Mission Team!

The LCMS is excited that you have chosen to

serve as a team leader. Leading a team of short-term
missionaries is a great responsibility that provides
many challenges and rewards.
As you lead your team through the pre-trip, trip
and post-trip processes, it is important to remember
that you are not alone. First and foremost, you have
the Holy Spirit leading and guiding you. The staff
of The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synods Office
of International Mission is also here to help and
serve you. Finally, you will have a team of Spirit-led
servants to help you make this mission trip successful.
You and your team members are a crucial part of the
Office of International Mission team. No matter
how big or small your project may seem, your team
is playing a strategic role in Gods mission around

the world. All teams that serve alongside the LCMS

Office of International Mission are a vital part of
the mission strategy. The missionaries and staff of
the Office of International Mission are excited to
welcome you to our mission team. May God bless and
keep you and your team members as you prepare for
service in His kingdom.
How can this manual help? This manual was
designed to be a guide to equip you to be an effective
team leader. Most of the information in this guide is
directed at you and your responsibilities as the team
leader. This manual is not designed to answer all the
questions, but will give enough information to get
started. It is encouraged that you read this manual
and use the information.

Table of Contents

Office of International Mission...............................4

Values and Priorities.............................................4
LCMS International Regions
and Partner Churches...........................................5
Witness, Mercy, Life Together...............................5


Team Leader Roles and Responsibilities...............6

Your Relationship with the LCMS..........................7
Building Your Team...............................................7
Recruiting and Selecting Team Members..........7
Team Member Roles and Responsibilities.............8
Team Meetings.....................................................9
Team Accountability............................................10


Travel Arrangements...........................................10
Country Information............................................11
Consulate Registration........................................11
Trip Costs...........................................................11
Trip Cancellation.................................................11
Travel Documents...............................................11
Health Insurance/
Medication Evacuation Insurance.......................12
Life Insurance.....................................................12
Vaccination Certificate Booklet............................12
Emergency Contact Information.........................12
Internet Access and Calling Home......................12
Traveling with Money..........................................13
Departure Airport................................................14
Travel Time.........................................................14
Jet Lag...............................................................14
Travel Sickness...................................................14



Keeping the Team Together................................15
Airport Tax..........................................................15
Culture Shock/Cultural Issues.............................15
On-Field Relationships........................................16


Sharing Your Experiences...................................17
Whats Next?......................................................17
Thank You..........................................................17


Packing List........................................................18


Short-term Mission Trip Cancellation Policy........19

LCMS Youth Policy.............................................20


Sample Application.............................................22



The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod

The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod (LCMS), is

a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination

headquartered in St. Louis, Mo. Founded in 1847, the LCMS has more
than 2.3 million baptized members in some 6,200 congregations and more
than 9,000 pastors. Two seminaries and 10 colleges and universities operate
under the auspices of the LCMS, and its congregations operate the largest
Protestant parochial school system in America. The church broadcasts the
saving message of Jesus Christ over KFUO Radio, and it has relationships
and active mission work in 89 countries around the world. In the last five
years, the LCMS has awarded more than $35 million through more than 900
domestic and international grants for emergency response and disaster relief.
Today, the LCMS is in full doctrinal fellowship with 34 other confessional
Lutheran church bodies worldwide and is a founding partner of Lutheran
Services of America, a social ministry organization serving one in every 50
Americans. For more information, visit

Office of International Mission

The Office of International Mission was created
by the 64th Regular Convention of The Lutheran
ChurchMissouri Synod. The creation of this office
was part of many mandated changes, including the
elimination of the former program boards known as
LCMS World Mission and LCMS World Relief and
Human Care. Another change included the addition
of a new position, Chief Mission Officer (CMO). The
role of the CMO is to guide the ministries carried out
by the International Center of the
LCMS. Your service,
as a short-term
missionary, is
guided by the
Office of

International Mission, under the leadership of the

executive director of the Office of International
Mission and the Chief Mission Officer. Please
remember that you are representing the LCMS,
especially in the minds of our international church

Office of International Mission

Values and Priorities
The LCMS Office of International Mission, under the
direction of the Synod President and the CMO, has
identified five ministry values to help guide our work.
Fidelity Be Lutheran
Quality The pursuit of excellence
Credibility Inspires belief in project
Sustainability Financial capacity to last
Stability Strength to stand and endure
Along with these key foundational principles that
guide the work of the LCMS, we have established six
mission priorities.
1. Plant, sustain and revitalize Lutheran Churches.
2. Support and expand theological education.
3. Perform human care in concert with Word
and Sacrament ministries.

Team Leader Manual

4. Collaborate with the Synods members and

partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
5. Nurture church workers and care for their
spiritual well-being.
6. Enhance elementary and secondary education.
Your role as a short-term team will serve to help
the LCMS as we strive to live by these values and
accomplish these priorities. In some cases you will
be able to clearly see how your service relates. Other
times it will not be as clear. However, you can be
assured that the positions you are filling have been
created with these very values and priorities as the

LCMS International Regions and Partner

The LCMS has divided the international work of our
church into five different geographical regions. Each
region has a director to engage with our partners and
to guide the strategic ministry in that area. The five
regions include:
Asia Pacific
Latin America and the Caribbean
Southern Asia/Oceania
Within each region, the LCMS works both in
countries with a national partner church and works
in new ministries where a partner church is not yet
established. Learn more at
Locations with Partner Churches
In countries where there is a national partner church,
we as the LCMS seek to lend our partnership to build
the capacity of the national church, its leaders and
members, to enable it to be a confessional Lutheran
church committed to sharing Christ through Word
and Sacrament ministries while also reaching out to
their communities. This may take the form of offering
personnel to train leaders, sharing consulting services
in areas where the national church has identified
a need or offering financial assistance to complete
projects that contribute to building a healthy, selfsustaining national church body.

Team Leader Manual

Locations without Partner Churches

In places where there is no established church,
the LCMS sends career, long-term and short-term
personnel; financial support; and other resources to
establish Lutheran communities of faith and train
national leaders. Such leaders will in turn evangelize
new communities and train new leaders.

Witness, Mercy, Life Together

These phrases Witness, Mercy, Life Together
illustrate how the church lives and works together
to proclaim the Gospel and to provide for our
brothers and sisters in Christ in our congregations,
communities and throughout the world.And in all
we do, Christ is at the center, leading us, sustaining
us, keeping us focused on our mission.This will never
As a short-term mission team you have the
opportunity to see this work of the church played
out in a wonderful and unique way. As short-term
missionaries your team will experience Life Together
in a very real way. You will live and work in close
proximity to people you have never met before.
You will be challenged and encouraged by each of
these people as you develop a relationship and live
out our Life Together by worshiping and serving
together. Witness and Mercy are intricately joined
together on the international mission field. Your
service might be very clearly Mercy-related, caring
for the sick or feeding the poor. In those situations,
you will be working in close proximity to Word and
Sacrament ministry to bring Witness to all of your
Mercy activities. Conversely, you may be engaged in
very clear ministries of Witness, however, all of your
interactions will be full of Mercy as you engage with
believers and unbelievers alike.
Your service as a short-term mission team will be a
beautiful representation of our life in the church;
Witnessing Always, showing Mercy Forever, and
living Life Together in the church and for the world.
Learn more at

Team Leader
To have a successful mission experience,
each team needs a team leader. Team leaders
must be a team member. A successful team
leader should have leadership abilities
and organizational skills. Cross-cultural
experience is helpful, but not necessary.
Team Leader Roles and Responsibilities
General Responsibilities
Serve as a role model for your team.
Plan and run team meetings.
Work toward group consensus in making
decisions and solving problems.
Follow up with team members to ensure they are
completing their assigned tasks.
Encourage team members.
Build a sense of community between team
Listen and respond to the needs of the team,
missionaries and national hosts.
Pre-Trip Responsibilities
Spend time in personal prayer and devotion.
Pray for your team members, mission field and
Recruit team members.
Serve as the contact person with LCMS staff.
Assign job duties to each team member.
Distribute, collect and verify all forms.
Verify that all travel arrangements are made.
Verify that money is collected and that all
payments are made.
Ensure the team completes team training.
Work with your pastor and congregation to
involve the entire congregation in the short-term
mission trip.

On-Field Responsibilities
Serve as mediator and main communication
person between team members and missionaries/
local leaders.
Model flexibility things in the mission field
can change quickly.
Be aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual
health of each team member.
Ensure that team devotions and debriefings occur
Post-Trip Responsibilities
Complete debriefing forms.
Follow up with team members and encourage
future local and international mission
Contact the LCMS to share the names of team
members interested in future service.
Complete the last section of the short-term
training series.
Ensure that the team follows up with individual
supporters and their congregation(s) to share
their experiences, how God used them and what
He taught them.
The list of responsibilities may seem long and
overwhelming, but please do not be discouraged. It
is important to remember you are not alone, because
we are always available to help you. If you plan
ahead and assign job duties early, your work will be
distributed among your team members. This will give
you time to help your team members and focus on
preparing your team to serve.
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Your Relationship with the LCMS

You are embarking on a journey with others and

you are the trail guide! This can be an exciting
and intimidating experience. That is why it is very
important to spend time preparing yourself spiritually.
This aspect of preparation often gets forgotten or
neglected in the details of forms, papers, questions
and tickets. Consider these reminders for how to
spiritually prepare for your journey.

As the team leader, you have a unique relationship

with the LCMS. As a team leader, you will work
with the Office of International Mission for stateside
logistics, preparation and post-trip information. For
all aspects of your time on the mission field, you will
work with an LCMS missionary or a member of an
LCMS partner church. It is important that you serve
as the only contact with LCMS staff and partners.
Team members should direct all questions and
comments to you and then it is your responsibility
to speak with the appropriate LCMS representative.
LCMS staff will only work with you. No information
will be sent directly to team members unless agreed
upon beforehand. This communication structure is
important to ensure that all information is accurately

Personal Devotions
Many good daily devotion books and materials are
available. There are even some that focus on shortterm mission trips or entering cross-cultural ministry.
If you are experiencing anxiety or excitement about
a particular aspect of the trip, look for a devotion or
Bible verses that addresses these feelings. Its crucial
to make your personal devotions a priority as you
prepare to lead a team of Gods people on a mission
It goes without saying that prayer is important and
should not be forgotten in your preparations. If you
dont have a prayer partner, this might be a good time
to find one! Ask someone who cant go on the trip
to be in prayer for and with you. You can share your
thoughts and anxieties about the trip and ask your
prayer partner to petition on your behalf.
A journal will be given to you and each team member
in the short-term team training. It is designed to
help each person on your team to prepare for the
trip, record thoughts and experiences during the trip,
and record thoughts and feelings upon returning
home. As you encourage team members to use this
tool, dont neglect recording your own preparations,
feelings and experiences.

Building Your Team

Bringing together individuals to form a short-term
team is an essential part of each team leaders task. If
your team is not already formed, these tips can help
pull one together.
Recruiting Team Members
Advertise Hang posters, provide information in
newsletters and bulletins, share about the opportunity
during worship, and visit small groups and Bible study
Informational Meetings Host mission trip
information meetings so members can come and learn
more. Consider making this a fun and informational
evening by adding food from the culture, pictures, a
trivia game, cultural decorations, etc.
Personal Invitation Work with your pastor or other
team members to create a list of people that you
would personally like to invite to join your team. A
personal invitation is always the most effective way
to recruit volunteers. It is important to follow up after
the initial invitation.
Involve others outside your congregation. Invite
other LCMS congregations to join your team, along
with friends, family and co-workers. Use your district
office or local circuit to make these connections.

Team Leader Manual

Can I recruit non-LCMS team members?

The short answer is, yes. Even though it is ok to have
non-LCMS members on your team, it is important
that they understand that they are serving on an
LCMS-led trip. They must agree to respect and
communicate LCMS doctrine and practice while on
the trip. The LCMS respects that other Christians
may have different beliefs in some areas of doctrine,
but it is important to convey a consistent message to
those we are serving. Ask your pastor to meet with
any non-LCMS team members if they have questions
about doctrine and/or practices.
Selecting team members
In many cases, you may not know everyone interested
in serving on the team. You may want to explore a
few ways to select team members for your trip.
Develop an application for service (example in the
Appendix). A simple application will give you the
information needed to select candidates for the team
and provide important contact information. The
application will also give the candidate the
opportunity to reflect on serving with the team.

Once your team has been built,

you may want to require your team
members to pay a non-refundable
deposit. A small deposit can help guarantee
the commitment of team members and provide
resources to book tickets, purchase items, etc.

Pastoral involvement Ask your pastor to be part

of the selection process. He may have a better
understanding of the gifts and talents of those
interested in serving and can provide valuable
Team Member Roles and Responsibilities
It is important that each team member be involved
in the planning and preparation of the trip. An
important way to build team unity and increase
involvement is to assign each team member a specific
task. As the team leader, you will be responsible for
assigning tasks to each team member.
The following is a list of possible roles. This list is
simply a starting place. The roles and responsibilities
for your team will be determined by the exact nature
of your trip and talents of your team. For example,
you may split up the duties under one role and
distribute them among several people.
Team Leader The team leader will identify,
facilitate and delegate essential tasks. The team
leader is also the one person who should contact

Non-refundable deposit

the LCMS with questions from the team. If you

are the pastor, it is important that you choose an
Assistant Team Leader to help with various tasks
and allow you to take on the role of providing
pastoral care when needed.
Assistant Team Leader All great leaders have
great assistants! You may consider having an
Assistant Team Leader who is in the know in
case of an emergency. Depending on your needs
and the needs of the team, this person may need
to fill another role as well.
Project Manager Short-term trips require
someone with specialized skills to serve with
the team. Teams doing construction projects,
teaching English, leading Bible camps or leading
medical clinics are some examples. If a specialized
team member is needed, it is important that they
are given authority over the project. This will
allow you to focus on the people and logistics of
travel while the Project Manager can focus on the
task at hand.
Researcher To prepare for your trip, the
researcher will find as much information
as possible about the country and ministry
for presentations and personal preparation.
Assigning one person to the task of gathering this
information can save time for the entire team.
Support-Raising Coordinator Many teams
will sponsor support-raising events. These
events connect the congregation to the mission
team and garner prayer and financial support.
Coordinating these events is a big undertaking.
Having a manager for each different event can
be helpful. A Support-Raising Guide is provided
for this role.
Treasurer The Treasurer communicates all
financial information to the necessary individuals
such as the Team Leader, church treasurer or
pastor; manages funds collected in joint supportTeam Leader Manual

raising events; and manages and tracks team

members individual funds. The Treasure will
work very closely with the Support-Raising
Logistics Coordinator The Logistics Coordinator
takes care of the organizational side of the
trip such as scheduling meetings, developing
a packing list, coordinating team supplies and
coordinating transportation.
Spiritual Leader The Spiritual Leader
coordinates devotions. Although it is the
responsibility of all team members to care for
each others spiritual needs and growth, it is
helpful to also have the spiritual leader oversee
and proactively encourage this aspect of the trip.
Nurse The team Nurse does not need to be a
medical professional. This person will coordinate
the first aid kit and other supplies. He or she
would also help any individuals with medical
needs during the trip.
Communications Editor The Communications
Editor coordinates the communication activities
of the team and is responsible for the final
production of any newsletters, brochures or
presentations. The Communication Editor can
also be responsible for communication with
supporters back home while the team is on the
mission trip.
Photographer/Videographer Although several
team members will likely take photographs,
the designated Photographer is responsible
for producing photographs needed for
communications and ensuring that important
events on the trip are documented.
Artifact Collector The Artifact Collector
coordinates the collection of artifacts to use in
presentations and displays upon the return from
the trip.

Team Meetings
Meeting Topics
Time is a precious commodity for you and your team
members. Knowing when to schedule team meetings
and for what purpose can be a challenge sometimes.
The following is a list of suggested topics that should
be discussed at team meetings.
Trip information
Team sign-up
Learning about the country
Team-building activities
Information and planning for support-raising
Filling out forms and other logistical details
Fellowship and family get-together (where
members invite their families to meet other team
members and get to know one another better)
Short-term team training (involves six meetings
before you leave and one when you return)
Planning for mission task i.e., VBS, building
project, teaching
Meeting Agenda
Productive meetings are important. It is often helpful
to have an agenda before the meeting begins to keep
the group on topic and to get tasks accomplished.
This agenda does not need to be shared, but will help
you keep focused and on time. The following list of
agenda items are important components of a mission
trip meeting.
Opening devotion
Prayer (it is good to take time to pray specifically
for the trip and ask for prayer requests)
Review of past meetings or topics (old business)
Preview of what is coming up in the future
Main topic/reason for meeting
Daily Field Meetings
Your meetings during the mission trip will not be
quite the same as when you were at home, although
some components should remain the same. The team
should meet once or twice a day, depending on your
schedule. One meeting should be a quick time for
devotion/prayer and checking-in with everyone. The
other meeting should be longer and include time

Team Leader Manual

for debriefing and sharing. Your short-term team

training will help your team understand positive ways
to use the field meetings. Your mission host may or
may not be involved in your meetings on the field.
Make sure that all conversations remain honest,
but positive, especially if a LCMS missionary or a
national worker is with you. They worked very hard
to prepare for your team, so please be sure to affirm
them. If problems do arise, please speak honestly but
respectfully when addressing the issue.

Team Accountability
As the team leader, it is important that you set some
behavior guidelines for your team before departure
and help the team develop accountability within
the group to hold up the guidelines that are in place.
Each team may have different areas to address, but
some topics to consider are:
Drinking age, if it is different than in the U.S.
Off-days, what limits should be in place
Dating within the group and with locals
Interactions between men/women, husbands/
Conflict resolution methods
Social media guidelines

Mission Trip Preparation Tips

Travel arrangements
The team is responsible for all travel arrangements to
and from the mission field.
Depending on the location, this may include airplane
tickets, any U.S. travel (to and from the airport),
and any vacation or extra travel not included in
the mission trip. Once the team has arrived at the
mission trip destination, all travel that is within
the parameters of the trip will be arranged by the
local field staff. Any additional travel or excursions
during the trip must be agreed upon by the team and
the mission host. Adding travel or excursions will
affect the cost of the trip. Personal travel will not be
arranged by missionaries or national church partners.
It is also encouraged that additional travel take place
after the mission trip.
Many teams use a travel agent to book international
travel. If a problem occurs before, during or after
your trip, the agent will serve as your advocate with
the airlines. If your congregation or a team member
has a trusted travel agent, we encourage you to make
arrangements through them. It is a great way to
get others involved in your ministry. You will also
receive information regarding recommended travel
agents from the LCMS. Purchasing tickets online can

provide a discount in travel, however, it is important

to be aware of why the tickets cost less. Sometimes
the itinerary will not be with the same airline or
airline alliance. If you are delayed for any reason on
one leg of your journey and miss your connecting
flight, the other airline has no responsibility for your
missed flight.
Once your flights are booked, be sure to check your
airlines policy on reconfirming an international
flight. Many airlines recommend reconfirming your
flight 72 hours prior to an international departure.
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Also, be sure to verify that any countries in which

you are changing aircrafts do not require a transit

Country Information
You will be mailed valuable information about your
host country. It will include information on the
history and culture of the country you will soon
visit. You are also encouraged to research on your
own using books or by searching the Internet. Some
helpful sites include:
The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod and
CIA World Factbook
Lonely Planet

Consulate Registration
Please register yourself and your team with the
consulate in each country you are visiting. You can
do this through the U.S. State Department Smart
Traveler Enrollment Program:
step. You will need to have your dates finalized, your
passport number, and contact information for your
host or your lodging information.

Trip Costs
Teams are responsible for all field costs that relate
to the teams service on the mission field. All living,
on-field travel, food, coordination, insurance and any
agreed upon project costs will be billed to the team.
The final cost cannot be changed unless agreed upon
by both parties.
Two months before departure, you will receive an
invoice from the LCMS. Your invoice will include
the costs due to the LCMS one month before your
departure. It will also indicate any costs you should
be prepared to pay once you arrive on the mission
field. The costs will not exceed the amount given in
the original estimate unless significant changes have
been made in schedule, location or task at the request
of your mission team.

Team Leader Manual

Trip Cancellation
Although trip cancellation is never anticipated,
occasionally a team or mission field will need to
cancel their trip for various reasons. The LCMS
policy on trip cancellation can be found in the
Appendix of this manual. If political unrest or natural
disaster is a reason for concern, the LCMS will work
with you directly to give you the latest information
from our sources and make a final decision on the
feasibility of your trip. If the team decides to cancel
their trip, they will be charged all irrecoverable costs.

Travel Documents
All travel documents should remain in each persons
physical possession at all times when traveling.
Even when on the airplane, this information will be
needed to fill out forms for customs and immigration.
Please remind your team to keep every paper given
to them by the authorities. It is not always clear
which papers will be important later. It is a good
idea to remind your team of this as soon as you leave
customs. It is also important to keep a copy of each
team members passport with you as a back-up.

A passport is a formal travel document issued by
a government to its citizens, which attests to the
bearers identity and nationality, and indicates that
the bearer is entitled to receive the protection and
assistance of the countrys consular office while
abroad. Your passport should be valid for at least
six months beyond the date of your scheduled trip.
Information for obtaining or renewing passports can
be found at You can also contact
your local U.S. Post Office or consult its website at Team members should begin getting
their passports as soon as possible after joining the
team. A passport is required to return back to the
U.S. from all foreign countries, including Mexico and



Emergency Contact Information

A visa indicates you have permission to enter a

specific country. Generally, a visa may be obtained
from a consulate representative either directly or
through a visa service agency. The LCMS will
provide you detailed information about obtaining any
visas that you will need.

Your mission host will provide you with their contact

information in case of an emergency. Each team
member should keep this information close at hand
while traveling. The information will be helpful in
completing forms required for entering the country
and in case of being separated from the group.
Additional copies of this information can be left with
the church office or family as appropriate.

Health Insurance/Medical Evacuation

Health insurance and medical evacuation insurance
are part of your trip package with the LCMS. In the
event someone has a medical emergency, you will
be covered. Policy information will be sent to you as
your departure date nears.

Life Insurance
Please ask team members to check to make sure they
have adequate insurance.

The LCMS will send you a list of the recommended
vaccinations for your country of travel. This list
is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Each person is encouraged to visit their
website for the latest information. Each team member
should also plan to talk with their doctor or a travel
clinic to determine what vaccinations they need, if
any. The LCMS does not required any vaccinations.
In very rare cases a vaccination will be required to
enter a country. If this is the case, the information
will be sent to you with the visa information for that

Vaccination Certificate Booklet

All members of the United Nations accept the
vaccination certificate booklet issued by the World
Health Organization as the approved health
document. This booklet can be obtained at most
doctors offices or travel clinics. You should have all
vaccinations recorded in this booklet by your doctor.
If needed, the booklet is to be carried with your
passport since it may be examined as you enter the
country. (In most cases, it will not be required of you
to have this booklet unless a country requires you to
have a specific vaccination.)

Internet Access/Calling Home

Almost all LCMS mission fields will have Internet
access available for team members. However, these
services are not always reliable. Please discourage
team members from promising to contact their
families when they arrive or at a certain time/day.
Instead, arrange for one person to contact all of the
families and let them know of your safe arrival, trip
updates, etc. Your team Communications Editor
can develop an email list so that everyone can be
contacted with one email. This will help assure
that all families received communication from the
team, but does not cause stress or pressure should the
services be unavailable or the schedule be adjusted
Some team members may also desire to call home.
Again, be careful not to promise a phone call on a
certain day or at a certain time. In order to make a
phone call, team members may consider purchasing
a calling card with an international access number.
These calling cards are often different from what
are commonly advertised as International Calling
Cards. AT&T and MCI are the most common
brands that will fit your needs. With these cards
comes a list of local access numbers for countries
all around the world. Make sure that the calling
card company services the country to which you
are traveling. Some cell phone companies also offer
international short-term calling plans.

Team Leader Manual

Traveling with Money


Your team will not need any money to cover your

mission trip expenses. However, team members will
want to carry some personnel spending money for
souvenirs and other personnel items.

Proper clothing is important. Check with your

missionary host if in doubt concerning proper attire
for your particular area. Take comfortable clothing
that can be easily laundered. Knits, permanent press,
washables and wrinkle-free items are especially
appropriate. Comfortable walking shoes that are
easily removable are a necessity in many countries.
Include a fold-up raincoat and/or small travel
umbrella. Be conservative in you jewelry use. The old
rule of thumb take half as many clothes and twice
as much money as you think you need applies. It
is common to wear the same piece of clothing more
than once. Please avoid anything with an American
flag or political message. Above all, keep in mind that
you are a guest; therefore, always strive to achieve an
appearance that is nice and professional as a sign of
respect to your hosts.

Travelers Checks and Cash

Most countries do not accept travelers checks and
in other countries, they may be very difficult to
use. It is best to have other forms of payment. Most
countries operate on cash. Restaurants and stores are
likely to only accept local currency. It is quite easy
to exchange U.S. dollars in country. It is generally
recommended that the team do this at the airport
upon arrival. When you are getting cash from your
bank to exchange, ask for newer bills, which appear
unused. Old tattered bills are often rejected in foreign
banks. Remind your team to beware of pickpockets.
Protect your valuables and be discreet when handling
cash. It is a good idea to carry money in multiple
front pockets.
Check/Debit Cards
Automatic teller machines (ATMs) are becoming
more prevalent around the world. This has proved
to be an easy and effective way to access your bank
account and get cash in the local currency. Make sure
that your check/debit card uses a widely accepted
service (e.g. Visa, Plus, or Cirrus).
Credit Cards
If your team members desire to travel with a credit
card, it is important to note that Visa is perhaps the
most widely recognized card worldwide. MasterCard
and American Express are also used overseas, but
are not as widely accepted. Ensure with any credit
card that you are able to receive money from a cash
machine using a personal identifications number
(PIN) in case of an emergency. Many countries have
automatic tellers with this feature. Understand that
there is usually a fee and interest charge for this
service. Also, be sure to carry a copy of your credit
card including the number to call if the card is lost or
stolen. Store this in a separate location.

Be sure to hand-carry some essentials in your carry-on
bag in case your luggage is delayed or lost. Mixedpacking, or putting necessary items in multiple
suitcases, is a good idea for couples. That way one
person wont end up with nothing, while the other
has everything! Carry your passport and other travel
documents in your carry-on luggage.

Do not wear or take any valuable that you cant live
without. Do not wear or take expensive jewelry. It is
important to be modest in all aspects.

It is generally recommended that you have one
suitcase and one carry-on piece. The smaller and
lighter the better. It is common in international
travel that you find yourself needing to transport your
entire luggage alone. This might happen while
getting on or off a bus or train, or just walking across
the street. In these situations, sturdy, wheeled luggage
is very helpful.
If your team is planning to take additional luggage
for supplies or donations, plan for this as well. Make
sure that everyone knows the luggage on which their
names are attached. It is also important to think of

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how soon you can donate or use the items and whose
luggage can then be condensed so that each team
member only has one carry on and one check-in bag
for the remainder of their journey. Please do not plan
to take supplies that have not been cleared/asked for
by your mission host.

Departure Airport
Consult your airline concerning how early to arrive
at the airport. Allow plenty of time to take care of
necessary matters and ensure that you are able to
board your international flight with as little stress as
possible. International travel security measures are
generally more difficult and take more time.

Travel Time
Use your time wisely. Plan for the time you will have
on the plane. Bring a favorite book and be prepared
in the event of a grounded flight or other delays. Help
your team be prepared for lots of down time, and
possible delays. In these situations, model flexibility
for them. Ask for Gods help to use the down times
for journaling, devotions and team-building.

Travel Sickness
It is helpful to suggest that each team member
bring any medication they think they will need in
the event that they suffer from any type of travel
sickness. It is also a good idea to have a group
medical kit with over-the-counter medications and
first aid equipment. Remember, it may be difficult for
the group to slow down or stop for team members to
recuperate. Taking precautions individually and as a
group is both helpful and thoughtful.

You can suggest for team members to carry some
snacks. Nuts, dried fruit, granola and candy help
keep the energy high, blood sugar stable and provide
nutrition in case of delays. Always give attention to
proper nutrition, especially the day before traveling.
Drink plenty of liquids, since dehydration can be
significant during long periods of travel. Minimize
alcohol and caffeine intake they are dehydrating.

Jet Lag
To avoid jet lag as much as possible, go to bed a little
earlier or later each night before your trip to help you
adjust to the difference in time zones. Shift mealtimes
gradually, and prepare yourself psychologically
by setting your watch for arrival time in the new
time zone once you board your plane. Drink lots of
water to offset possible dehydration caused by the
low humidity aboard planes and trains. Do not stay
seated for the entire flight; try to get up and get your
circulation moving. Upon arrival, eat a light meal,
get some exercise, and if possible, shower, relax and
go to bed early. The sooner you adjust your schedule
to that of your host country, the better.


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Arrival Procedures
Arrival at your destination airport usually involves
a two-step process immigration and customs. In
most cases, before landing, the airline attendants will
give you a customs declaration form and/or landing
card to fill out. You will be required to list an address
of where you will be staying. Make sure you have
that address in your carry-on items. Write personal
effects on the customs form rather than listing
everything in your luggage. Keep the forms and your
passport handy as you get off of the plane.
The first step is immigration, where you are required
to show your passport and landing card (completed
in the airplane) stating your purpose for visiting and
where you will be staying. If a special visa is required,
you will need to show it at this time. It will usually
be attached to or stamped in your passport. Once you
have your passport stamped and clear this area, you
then pick up your luggage and head for customs. In
some countries you will purchase your visa when you
arrive. This will happen in immigration before you
move to customs.
Customs officials may inspect luggage when you land.
Cooperate with them and remain friendly and polite.
Keep every paper that you are given by authorities.
You may be required to show a seemingly insignificant
piece of paper prior to leaving the country.

Keeping the Team Together

You will likely all depart the plane at the same time.
As you proceed to the area where you will pass
through the immigration line, you can split up and
go through the available lines. Before doing this,
instruct the team to meet you on the other side of
immigration BEFORE picking up their luggage.
It is often helpful to have two or three team members
assigned to pulling the luggage off of the belts. The
other team members can grab the luggage from them
and guard it. It is important for team members to take
their own luggage through customs. Gather again
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as a team before exiting the airport. Advise team

members to keep luggage close to them and not to let
anyone take the luggage from them to carry. This is
especially true in developing countries.

Airport Tax
Some countries charge an airport tax to be paid when
you leave the country. You will want to set aside
money at the beginning of the trip to pay this tax for
the entire team. Check with your airline or travel
agent for the current airport tax or to verify if it is
paid by the airline.

Culture Shock/Cultural Issues

Culture refers to the total way of life of particular
groups of people. It includes their ideas, customs,
traditions, languages, arts, social structures and
values. People are different in their greetings,
celebrations, eating habits, food, trading, dress,
property, acceptance, faith and management.
Culture shock is psychological disorientation or
anxiety that results from losing familiar signs and
symbols of social behavior and reaction. It may begin
at the airport while going through customs or may
not occur for several days.
All of us depend on cues, which involve words,
gestures and facial expressions for our peace of mind.
When a person enters a new culture, all or most of
these familiar cues are removed. The person is like
a fish out of water. Nothing makes sense. No matter
how broad-minded or full of goodwill one may be,
a series of props have been knocked out from under

them. It is followed by a feeling of frustration and

anxiety. Your team training will cover many aspects
of cultural shock.
Your responsibility as a team leader is to make sure
each member has a basic understanding of culture
shock and that you are looking to identify signs of
culture shock in yourself and others. Identifying that
someone is going through culture shock is half of the

On-Field Relationships
Friendships, especially male-female relationships,
are different in each country. Relationship building
is a key component to mission trips, so noting the
differences is very important. In some countries, men
and women are seldom friends. This can be difficult
for friendly Americans. Please make sure that you ask
your mission host the appropriateness of developing
relationships, especially across cultural and/or gender
lines. If an unhealthy relationship seems to be
developing, please talk to the person and/or mission
host immediately.

Another component to on-field relationships is the

relationships between team members. It is important
that they interact with the entire team, not just their
family member(s) or close friend(s). Displays of
affection also differ in other countries. It is important
to know these cultural norms and respect them in
public places.
It is not unheard of for romantic relationships to
develop on a mission team. This happens both
between the team members and between team
members and local people. As a team leader you
are responsible for monitoring the development of
these relationships and discussing any inappropriate
behavior. If you become aware of a relationship
between a local person and a team member, notify
your mission host immediately.

Returning Home
Your trip is over and you are back home.
Emotionally, you have experienced something
with which few people can completely
identify with. Each persons re-entry
into American culture is different. This
is important for you to consider as the
team leader. Your team may have returned
unchanged, but it is unlikely. More than
likely, each of you has returned from this trip
a little different person with a different view.
Your final responsibilities as a team leader
will include helping your team debrief to
understand this experience and then finally
to help and encourage them to seek out what
God is calling them to do with what they
learned on this trip.

Debriefing is the process of talking through recent
events, reflecting on them, gathering feedback from
others about them and coming to any necessary
conclusions to be ready for the next event/
experience. As you know, it was important to
incorporate this into your daily team meetings on the
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field. It is also important to debrief at the end of the

entire experience. This can be done both on the field
and at home.

In some cases, your mission host may ask you to fill
out an evaluation form, or just speak to you in-person
at the end of your trip to talk about the experience.
It is important that you take this time to evaluate the
entire experience and share the highs and lows and
joys and challenges of your service. You will also be
asked to fill out a debriefing form for the LCMS when
you return on behalf of your team. This debriefing
will be used to help us understand your trip, how God
used your team and ways we can continue to improve
processes related with short-term missionary service.
Taking the time to reflect on your experience will
also help you as you prepare to tell your story of
the trip. Be honest and prayerfully evaluate your

Sharing Your Experiences

Your congregation will be anxious and interested
to hear about your mission trip upon your return.
Be prepared to share your story both informally and
formally. It is important to recognize that they may
not be interested in every detail. Prepare yourself
and your team to talk about your experiences in a
way that will best communicate the purpose of your
trip and how it was fulfilled. Be as visual as possible
they will catch your excitement and enthusiasm.
Your short-term team training has dedicated the last
module to helping your team develop a team message
for sharing. LCMS resources are available to support
you as you share and tell the mission story at www. The Support-Raising Guide also includes
information to aide you in sharing your story.
The LCMS would also enjoy hearing your story.
Please send pictures, presentations, local news articles
or anything that tells the story of your mission trip.
Your teams stories may be posted online, used in
Synod periodicals or for recruitment materials.

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Information can be sent via email to us at mission. or mailed to:
The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod
Office of International Mission
Short-Term Missionary Service
1333 S. Kirkwood Rd.
St. Louis, MO 63122

Whats Next?
Your final responsibility as a team leader is to help
and encourage each individual team member to
discover their next steps. Some people will be
energized to encourage the congregation into
outreach. Some will begin counting the days until
the next mission trip. Some will want to organize
ways to help the mission field you just left. Some may
begin to consider long-term mission service. Others
may not readjust well or quickly to their life. Stay
connected with each team member and encourage
them in the ways God has called each of them. Help
them connect to individuals who can aid them in
achieving their goals. Talk and pray with them when
they need a listening ear. The Next Mile is a helpful
resource regarding this topic. Information about
this re-entry guide for team leaders is found in the
resource section of this manual (Appendix D).

Thank You
The LCMS would like to thank you for serving as
team leader. Your role is vital to the success of your
teams service and to the mission strategies of The
Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod. We are here
to help and we encourage you to contact us if you
have any comments and questions. It is important to
remember that you are not alone.
May the Lord bless you and your team as you prepare,
serve and share in Gods mission for the world!
Phone number: 888-THE LCMS (843-5267)


Appendix A: Packing List

Clothing needs may vary from country to
country. This is a starter list for you to
Mens Clothing

Long pants
Church: Dress pants, shirt, shoes & tie
Comfortable walking shoes, sandals for bathing
Swim suit
Umbrella & rain jacket

Womens Clothing

Travel: dresses/skirts/slacks
Sunday dress and dress shoes
Comfortable walking shoes, sandals for bathing
Umbrella & rain jacket
Swim suit (modest)

Health Items


Bug repellent
Antibiotic medicine
Anti-diarrhea medicine
Bandages/gauze & tape
Antihistamines for allergies
Antibacterial solution
Malarial pills (if recommended)
Prescription medicines

Personal Items

Razor/shaving cream
Alarm clock
Towel (not always necessary)
Antibacterial lotion/wipes
Personal cup
Flashlight/batteries & bulb
Plastic bags with zippers
Money belt or holder
Tissues/toilet paper

Travel Documents
Passport/visa and copy of passport packed
Immunization record
Insurance records
Phone numbers and email addresses of friends
and family
Address and phone of host missionary

Snack food
Granola bars
Water bottle (must be carried empty, or purchased
after the airport security check-point)

Team Leader Manual

Appendix B: Short-term Team Policies

Short-term Mission Trip Cancellation Policy
1. Cancellation of trip by LCMS staff due to safety
concerns: The safety of all missionaries and those
who serve with The Lutheran ChurchMissouri
Synod is a top priority. Due to the global nature of
the work done by missionaries, teams and volunteers,
safety issues can and will arise with little or no
1.1 The LCMS staff constantly monitors all world
events in areas that will affect its missionaries.
1.2 If a situation (natural, political, terrorist, etc.)
occurs that will affect the safety of a team, the
situation will be evaluated by the Host Missionary
(Missionary responsible for the team), Director
of Missionary Services, Regional Director and
appropriate staff.
1.3 The Host Missionary and the Regional Director
will provide information from the field and will
have the authority to cancel or change the dates
of a trip at any time.
1.4 The Director of Missionary Services will be the
main contact with the mission field and will
have the authority to cancel or suggest a change
of dates for a trip based on information from all
1.5 Missionary Services staff will be responsible
for updating the team leader with all necessary
communications from the field and will serve
as the main contact for the team during the
evaluation process.
1.6 If the U.S. State Department advises against
all but essential travel, all LCMS trips will be
canceled or rescheduled.

1.7 In the event of trip cancellation due to safety

concerns, a special billing or reimbursement
may be processed. All retrievable costs will be
refunded to the team. All non-retrievable costs
(plane ticket fees, deposits, etc.) will not be
refunded. Reimbursements will be managed by
the LCMS Missionary Services staff.
1.8 If the trip is rescheduled, the team will be
responsible for all change fees and deposits.
Item 1.7 above of this policy will serve as the
governing policy for a team or a team member
unable to serve during the rescheduled time.
2. Cancellation of trip by LCMS staff for nonsafety reasons: In the event that the LCMS must
cancel a trip for reasons not covered in section 1 of
the trip cancellation policy, the following policies
will govern.
2.1 All trips canceled by the LCMS for reasons other
than safety must be reviewed by the Director of
Missionary Services or the Director of Life and
Health Ministries.
2.2 The Director of Missionary Services, the Director
of Life and Health Ministries and the Regional
Director will work with the host and the longterm/short-term missionary, short-term team or
volunteer to find a solution to the issues that
caused the cancellation of the trip.
2.3 Reimbursement of funds to the short-term team
must be approved by the LCMS.
3. Cancellation of the trip by the short-term team
or team member: In the event that the short-term
team or a team member cancels a trip, the following
policies will govern.
3.1 Short-term teams and team members have the
right to cancel service with LCMS at any time.

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3.2 Those who cancel service with The Lutheran

ChurchMissouri Synod will be responsible for
all costs that cannot be recovered by LCMS.
3.4 Short-term team and Mercy Medical Team
deposits are non-refundable.
3.5 The LCMS will not refund any portion of a
purchased plane ticket. This includes, but is not
limited to, cancellation fees, change fees, taxes,
3.6 Pre-trip costs accrued by the short-term team
or team members will not be reimbursed by the
3.7 Short-term teams or short-term missionaries who
cancel a trip, but plan to reschedule with the
LCMS, may be able to transfer the deposit to the
next trip.


LCMS Office of International Mission

Youth Policy
The LCMS has always valued the education and
involvement of the youth in our church body.
We also take our responsibility to lead, guide and
protect youth very seriously. Below are the criteria
set by the Office of International Mission for youth
involvement in international mission trips.
Children under 14 must travel with a parent or
legal guardian in all circumstances.
Children 14 and over must be traveling with a
congregational mission team.
Congregational mission teams with children
serving between the ages of 14-18 must have a
ratio of four (4) youth to one (1) adult.
Children ages 14-18 must complete additional
paperwork and return them to the team leader.
Individuals serving without a congregational team
must be 18 years old to apply, any exceptions will
be reviewed by the LCMS Placement Committee.
Anyone under 18 will not be subject to a
background check.

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Short-Term Mission Trip Application

Name (as printed in your passport):



Phone: (


Marital Status:

Do you have a valid passport?


Spouses Name:
Passport Number:

Date of Birth:
Children (names and ages):

Home Church:

How long have you attended?

What activities are you involved with at your congregation?

Do you volunteer or hold a leadership role in any organization outside the church?

Please name a pastor or church leader who could give you a reference.
Please list two people who know you and and are willing to attest to your character (name and phone number).

Have you ever served on a mission trip or had any cross-cultural experience? q No q Yes
If yes, where and when:

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List any specific talent(s) you have (drama, music, puppets, construction, medical, teaching, etc.)
Occupation and place of employment:
List any foreign languages you speak fluently:
What do you see as your strongest character quality and why?
What do you see as your weakest character quality and why?

What are your personal expectations from this trip?

How does your family feel about you going on this trip?
Do you have any condition that might affect your ability to fully function as a missionary on this trip (i.e., fear
of flying, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders)?
Have you ever been convicted of a crime? q No q Yes
If yes, please explain:

What are the most significant events that have occurred in your life in the past two years?

I have read and understand the information. The information stated in this application is accurate and true to
the best of my knowledge. My signature signifies my approval of all limitations listed above:
Signature of Applicant:



Team Leader Manual

Appendix D: Resources
Country Specific Information
LCMS International Mission Information,
The CIA World Factbook,
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Devotional and Worship

Missiological (to be used in consultation with

your local pastor)
Ministering Cross Culturally, A Incarnation Model for
Personal Relationships. Lingerfelter, Mayers. Baker
Academic, A division of BakerBooks, Grand Rapids,
Serving with Eyes Wide Open, Doing Short-Term
Missions with Cultural Intelligence. Livermore.
BakerBooks, Grand Rapids, MI.

Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on

Worship, CPH, Saint Louis, MO.

Cultural Intelligence: Improving your CQ to engage

our multicultural world. Livermore. Baker Academic,
Grand Rapids, MI.

Witness, Mercy, Life Together Bible Study, Dr. Albert

Collver, CPH, Saint Louis, MO.

Foreign to Familiar. Lanier. McDougal Publishing,

Hagerstown, MD.

Blessings and Prayers for Men (or Women), CPH, Saint

Louis, MO.

General Short-Term Resources (to be used in

consultation with your local pastor)
How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions, the Ultimate
Guide for Sponsors, Parents and Those Who Go! Fann
& Taylor. Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, TN.
(LCMS Short-term Team training covers many of the
same topics.)
Mack & Leeanns Guide to Short-Term Missions. Mack
& Stiles. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL.
Short-Term Missions Workbook from Mission Tourists to
Global Citizens. Dearborn. InterVarsity Press, Downers
Grove, IL.
The Next Mile, Short-Term Missions for the Long Haul
Leader Guide, A Practical Short-Term Mission Resource
with Emphasis on Post-Ministry Follow-Through.
Heerwagen. Authentic Media, Waynesboro, GA.

Team Leader Manual


Published by
The Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod
Office of International Mission
1333 S. Kirkwood Road Saint Louis, MO 63122-7295 888-843-5267