Mission trip resources

Are you leading your church or going on a short-term mission trip? Maybe you're exploring what it would mean to share the gospel with an unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG)? 

Start by learning how to connect with unreached peoples. Below you'll also find helpful resources for mission teams, team leaders, health care volunteers and more.

Are you still looking for ways to get involved? We can help! See more at "Who can help."



Connect with a people group
What is a people group? It is a group of people who have the same language, culture, history, customs and family/clan identities. For strategic purposes, a people group is the largest group through which the gospel can flow without encountering significant barriers of understanding and acceptance.

Explore There are still many people groups today with little or no access to the gospel and who are considered unreached, meaning they are less than 2 percent evangelical Christian. To connect with an unreached people group (UPG), we encourage you to explore a website developed to help you learn about UPGs throughout the world. As you research, you can:

• study their culture
• identify their language
• identify their religion(s)
• discover cultural landmines that need to be avoided for long-term effectiveness
• identify barriers to their understanding the gospel
• discover where they live worldwide (locally and globally)
• register your commitment

Go to the website and begin Getting There

Adopt to Pray There are many who are untouched by the gospel and have little opportunity to hear about Jesus. Your church can adopt a specific people group for whom you can begin to pray intentionally and passionately. As we are partnering together to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, prayer is essential as we are engaged in spiritual warfare! If you lead your church to adopt a people group for ongoing prayer, pray for:

• Barriers to the gospel to be broken down
• God to send more laborers to the field to reach them
• God to prepare hearts of the peoples to receive Him
• Any missionaries that may be working among that people group

To learn more about adopting a people group for prayer, go to PRAYERthreads.

Partner to Reach God has called each of us and our local churches to be a part of proclaiming His Gospel to all peoples. As God awakens your heart to global missions, He may lead you to partner with the work of one of your IMB missionaries. A church desiring to partner will come alongside and join the missionary on the field to work hand in hand to see sustainable, effective churches planted among a people group.

Seven Steps to Connect print document

Engage God's mission is clear — proclaim His Name among all peoples. Yet today there are still more than 3,100 people groups not being engaged with the gospel. There is no one working intentionally among them to see churches planted. Your church can take the gospel to a people who have not heard. If God is leading you to engage an unengaged, unreached people group (UUPG), begin your journey at embrace.imbresources.org.

We want to help you. We are excited about your journey to connect with a people group. As you lead your church, the Make the Connection booklet will be helpful. While many resources are online to help you, we also have a team ready to assist you along the way. You can connect with your representatives either by phone or e-mail.


Team leader
Congratulations! You have just accepted an assignment that can change lives forever for the glory of God.

Thank you for your willingness to be on mission with God in leading a volunteer team overseas. Our Lord spoke to the apostle Paul regarding his mission as recorded in Acts 26:17b-18 (HCSB) saying, "I now send you to them to open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified." Our prayer is that this Scripture will be fulfilled once again in your overseas mission project.

As you prepare for this most important mission, let us share some information that will be helpful to you.

INSURANCE—IMB policy requires all volunteers involved in an IMB volunteer project to purchase insurance for their protection. Gallagher Charitable International Insurance (formerly Adams & Associates) has been used by most IMB volunteer teams and provides medical, accidental death, medical evacuation, disability and many other benefits. The volunteer or sponsor is responsible for the cost of this coverage.

TRAVEL—Volunteers are responsible for their own travel arrangements. You can use any travel agency you find helpful. For a list of travel agents experienced in working with IMB volunteers, call (877) 462-4721(877) 462-4721 FREE or email us at imb@imb.org. It is often helpful to check with more than one agent to compare prices and services. Make sure to inquire about visa requirements for entry into your country of service. Some countries require visas while others only require a valid passport. For passport, visa and other travel information, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

IMMUNIZATIONS—Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for immunizations recommended for your country of service. You can also contact your local health department for further information on inoculations. Remember to always consult with your personal physician before you take any inoculation.

SAFETY—Plan ahead and take every precaution necessary to improve the safety of your group. Both seasoned and novice travelers will be made more aware of potential safety concerns and can develop strategies to reduce risk to their group with the Safe Travel training. Visit safetravelsolutions.org for information on Safe Travel training materials.

May God richly bless you as you serve Him through this special assignment. 


Health care volunteers
"Then He sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick." (Luke 9:2, HCSB)

For Christians, healing the sick has always gone hand-in-hand with sharing the gospel. Jesus modeled it and sent His followers out with explicit instructions to both proclaim and heal.

Health care has always been at the heart of Southern Baptist global missions, from the appointment of J. Sexton James as a missionary physician to China in 1846 to present day. The face of health care missions in Southern Baptist life has changed, but we still focus on making disciples and starting churches while meeting physical needs.

Staggering need

Today the health care needs around the world are as unprecedented as the opportunities. The statistics on children’s health are staggering:

More than 22,000 children under age 5 die each day - almost 1,000 every hour. About 3.3 million die during the first month of life; almost 6 million within the first year. Infectious diseases cause 64 percent of those deaths.

In many developing countries, children under age 5 routinely die from treatable afflictions like pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

In Africa, malaria strikes 94 of every 100,000 people, according to the World Health Organization. Tuberculosis affects 345 out of every 100,000 — contrasted with only 29 in the Americas. Non-communicable diseases, like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer - now make up two-thirds of all deaths globally.

For adults, poor health not only shortens life but also reduces a person’s ability to provide for family — pushing even more at-risk people deeper into despair. When communicable diseases run rampant and access to health care is virtually nonexistent, the eternal implications for entire villages and even people groups are truly, literally grave.

Unprecedented opportunity

Traditional mission hospitals still play a significant role in Southern Baptist mission strategy, and we partner with such institutions around the world. But the central focus of health care missions today lies with outpatient clinics and primary health care in remote areas. Southern Baptist missionaries also leverage their training and skills in the various health care disciplines to help educate a new generation of indigenous workers around the world. Today more than 250 health care-qualified individuals serve under career appointment through the International Mission Board.

Health care missions, in fact, fills a key strategic role in taking the Good News to the unreached peoples of the world. Where doors are closed to many others, health care professionals have unique opportunities to care, share, make disciples and empower the church.

Available and ready?

Your first step toward involvement, individually or as a church, is to make yourself available and ready to respond to God's direction. You can become informed about health care needs across the world and identify opportunities to use your skills in strategic ways that lead to new disciples and churches.

God may give you a burden to pray for people in need and the health care missionaries who serve them. God may call you, as He has many others, to a career overseas in international health, serving as part of a team that shares Christ and starts churches alongside national partners. Or the Lord may direct you to go as a volunteer for a shorter term, either as an individual or as part of a team.

Special events are sponsored by IMB on a regular basis to help you discover God’s plan for you in health care missions. For information about the current schedule, email medicalmissions@imb.org.

If you want to talk with someone about getting involved, contact Dr. Rebekah Naylor, an emeritus missionary physician who serves as Medical and Health Care Consultant with Baptist Global Response, a key IMB partner in health care initiatives. Contact Dr. Naylor at rnaylor@gobgr.org or visit www.gobgr.org. The MedAdvance conference connects health care professionals with strategic global evangelization.
Child protection

Children are a precious resource entrusted to us and their care and protection is a top priority. In a world where sexual and physical abuse of children is a sad reality, many churches are taking steps to assure that the children related to their ministry are safe and secure from sexual and physical abuse. IMB is joining the growing number of churches in implementing a child protection process. Because almost everyone serving on the mission field interacts with children, we are asking that all short term mission trip participants ages 18 and older receive protection training and go through a background screening process.

Child Protection Training

Many churches have training in place for those who work with children and youth. Child protection training materials are also available from IMB and can be accessed through the links listed below. Each person should participate in their church’s training or review the materials provided by IMB.

Click here for Spanish

The training video includes:

• The problem of child sexual abuse
• Critical components to reduce the risk of child abuse
• Signs of sexual abuse
• Responding to reports of child sexual abuse
• Ways to protect workers from false allegations

Individual learner's guides and leader's guides are available:

View or download video

You can also view and download reference and personal interview forms at the bottom of this page. If you have trouble viewing or downloading any of these files, please call us at (800) 999-3113(800) 999-3113 FREE, option 3.

Background Screening

Many churches utilize a screening process that includes a criminal background check, an interview, and confidential references. IMB is requesting that this three-part process be utilized for those participating on a short-term mission trip. The sending church (or other sending organization) should interview each potential team member, gather and evaluate personal references and secure a company to conduct a criminal background check for each team member. The check should include a county, state and national record check.

Many churches already have engaged a company to conduct criminal background checks. For churches or partner groups that do not have a process in place, IMB has established a relationship with Protect My Ministry to facilitate the criminal background check process.

Protect My Ministry provides discounted rates and a streamlined online process for conducting the checks, reviewing the results and safeguarding the data. Churches may establish an account with Protect My Ministry.

IMB offers sample interview questions and a sample confidential reference form that can be used to complete the other two parts of the background screening process. If a church uses Protect My Ministry, the interview is built into the background check process and need not be separately repeated.

For more detailed, step-by-step procedures for completing the training and background screening components of the child protection process, see the materials below.


Team leaders should confirm in writing via email to their host contact on the field that each short term mission trip participant has completed the child protection process. The email may be a simple one sentence notice. The training and screening needs to be completed only every four years, no matter how many trips a person may make.

For short term mission trip participants under the age of 18, the sending church or entity should conduct a reference check only. The training and the other elements of the background screening are not required.


Policy for Short Term Mission Trip Participants

1. As a Christian missionary organization, IMB is committed to providing, as much as possible, a safe and secure environment for all children entrusted to its care. This includes protecting children from sexual predators and anyone else whose history or character suggest that they reasonably pose a risk to the health and well-being of children with whom they may come in contact in connection with their service to or with the board.

2. Unfortunately, experience has shown that members of the body of Christ are not immune from temptations and personal struggles that involve taking inappropriate physical or sexual liberties with minor children. All of us share a responsibility to protect children from harm at the hands of those for whom children are perceived as objects of sexual desire or fascination. It is a part of our overall responsibility as Christian stewards and witnesses.

3. The primary goal of this policy is to reduce the risk of harm to children. By implementing sound child protection procedures, it is also the goal to reduce the risk of false accusations against short term mission trip participants who work with, supervise, provide care to, or interact with children. Because all short-term mission trip participants have the potential of interaction with children, whether in formal or informal settings, this policy applies to all participants, ages 18 and older,* who work with IMB personnel overseas.


4. The term “Child” in this policy shall refer to any individual under 18 years of age.

5. The term “Physical Abuse” of a child in this policy includes, but is not limited to the following: any action that causes or threatens to cause a non-accidental physical injury to a child; placing a child in a situation where the child is likely to be injured; neglecting or refusing to provide adequate food, shelter, emotional nurturing, or health care to a child; failing to provide adequate supervision in relation to the child’s age or development level.

6. The term “Sexual Abuse” of a child in this policy includes, but is not limited to the following: committing, allowing to be committed, or threatening any sexual act upon a child, including, without limitation, fondling of breasts or genitalia in or outside of the clothing, masturbation, oral-genital contact, digital penetration, vaginal intercourse, or anal intercourse; any action undertaken with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desire of any individual; indecent exposure in the presence of a child; allowing a child to view sexually explicit or pornographic material; allowing a child to be used in creating any sexually explicit or pornographic material; or allowing a child to witness a sexual act.

Requirements for Short Term Mission Trip Participants

7. All short-term mission trip participants, ages 18 and above, will, prior to commencement of service in collaboration with IMB, voluntarily submit to background screening and will complete training in the prevention of child sexual and physical abuse. The background screening will include, but not be limited to the following: An independent background check that includes a nationwide review of criminal history information and sexual predator databases, an interview, and references; each reference will be asked if they have concerns about that individual working with children and, if so, to specify the nature of their concerns.

For short-term mission trip participants under the age of 18, the sending church or entity should conduct a reference check only. The other elements of the background screening are not requested.

8. An individual shall not be allowed to serve as a short-term mission trip participant engaged in work in collaboration with IMB where the background screening or any other information reveals any information demonstrating that the individual engaged in (1) any prior behavior constituting sexual abuse of a child, (2) any crime of a sexual nature, or (3) any other behavior that reasonably indicates that this individual would pose a risk of sexually abusing a child. An individual shall not be allowed to serve on a short-term mission trip that is in collaboration with IMB if that individual has engaged in any behavior that reasonably indicates that this individual would pose a risk of physically abusing a child.

9. The background screening will ordinarily be completed by the local church or organization to which the short-term mission trip participant belongs.

Supervision of Children and Training of IMB Personnel

10. The child protection procedures shall, at a minimum, include provisions designed to implement the following:

(1) In any situation in which the parents or guardian of a child entrust short term mission trip participants with the care or supervision of that child, the general rule is that at least two adults trained in child protection procedures shall provide for the care and supervision of that child. For children under 12, at least one of those two adult caregivers shall be a woman. Children are to be supervised at all times; it is never appropriate to leave children unattended. Only where written parental consent is obtained is private one-on-one contact between adults and children permitted. Where such permission is given, the meetings should occur in either a public place or in a room that provides a clear view by others.

(2) Short-term mission trip participants shall never administer discipline to children not their own through spanking or other forms of corporal punishment.

(3) Child protection training shall address and define age appropriate forms of proper and improper physical contact between children and their adult supervisors and how to detect and prevent child physical and sexual abuse.

11. All short-term mission trip participants ages 18 and above shall receive appropriate child protection training and be aware of IMB policies and procedures relevant to child abuse before they participate in a short-term mission trip.

Certification of Screening and Training

12. Before a mission team leaves for the mission field, the church, ministry partner and/or mission trip team leader will certify in writing (email is acceptable) that every member of the mission team has:

(1) completed and passed the three elements of the required background screening described in paragraph 7, and

(2) completed training in how to prevent child abuse. That written certification will go to IMB host contact on the field. Re-screening and retraining should be conducted at least every four years.

Responding to Allegations or Incidents of Physical or Sexual Abuse of a Child

13. Any suspected incident of sexual or physical abuse of a child should be reported immediately. Appropriate means of reporting include the following: IMB leadership or IMB’s confidential hotline for reporting abuse (866) 211-4648(866) 211-4648 FREE if in the U.S., or (804) 749-3254(804) 749-3254 if outside the U.S.

14. Sexual or physical abuse of a child by a short term mission trip participant will not be tolerated. A single act of sexual abuse, regardless of when that act occurred, will result in appropriate legal/administrative action, including the permanent and immediate cessation of short term mission trip participation with IMB. A single act of physical abuse by a short-term mission trip participant, regardless of when that act occurred, will result in appropriate legal/administrative action, including the permanent and immediate cessation of short-term mission trip participation with IMB.


Reference Form         Word document     PDF

Personal Interview     Word document     PDF

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