Have you ever come to the end of a short-term trip and thought, “Do I have to leave? Can’t I just stay longer?” Or maybe once you arrived home you sensed you were supposed to be “back over there.” You want to immediately plan the next trip, but you know you want to go for longer than just for a week or two.
If you resonate with any of the thoughts above, then mid-term might be for you.
What Is Mid-Term?
“Mid-term” is a missions assignment between two months and three years. Many are familiar with short-term mission trips. But what about those who sense God leading them to serve for an extended period of time?
Mid-term provides Christians with an opportunity to serve cross-culturally for a summer, a semester, or a year, two, or three. Mid-term offers individuals and families an avenue to explore whether God might be calling them to plant their lives overseas in a long-term capacity.
Fundamentally, mid-term missions provides you the opportunity to be exposed to cross-cultural missions, as well as educated, and equipped to make disciples cross-culturally.
First, serving mid-term provides a unique opportunity for exposure.
It’s one thing to read about different peoples, places, and cultures. It’s an entirely different thing to experience and be exposed to it face to face. Mid-term allows you to be confronted with the realities of lostness around the world. It’s so easy in Western (often individualistic) culture to think only about the immediate world around you. Serving mid-term can help broaden that understanding.
When people serve on a short-term trip, there is a clear and immediate end in sight. Mid-term, on the other hand, enables you to settle into a culture and really get a feel for what it is like to live and minister in that context. You gain perspective about yourself and the world by going mid-term.
“You gain perspective about yourself and the world by going mid-term.”
Furthermore, the exposure that occurs during a mid-term assignment is not just external. It is also intimate and deeply personal. People who serve mid-term are exposed, and who they truly are is revealed. The stresses of life and ministry in a foreign setting can reveal issues of sin and needed areas of maturity and sanctification.
In one sense, this might sound alarming or concerning, but in another sense, mid-term provides individuals and families with an opportunity for growth as disciples of Christ. I often tell people who are planning to serve mid-term that it’ll be one of the most exposing things you will ever do, both on an external and internal level. But God uses those kinds of stretching and challenging experiences in our lives to conform us more into Christ’s image.
Second, serving mid-term is highly educational.
Those who serve mid-term through the IMB are connected to an IMB field team for the duration of their assignment. Being embedded into an existing IMB team on the ground allows for individuals and families to team and learn from experienced missionaries.
You get to observe and learn what life looks like on the mission field. You get to be discipled by and minister alongside long-term missionaries. You have the opportunity to study and learn a foreign language. You get to experience a different expression of church and have opportunities to learn from brothers and sisters from different cultures and backgrounds.
“Mid-term provides unparalleled opportunities for education, growth, and maturation.”
I’d contend that those serving mid-term learn more about themselves, God, and his purposes in the world during a six- to twelve-month assignment than they do in any other setting for that duration of time.
Mid-term provides unparalleled opportunities for education, growth, and maturation.
Third, serving mid-term equips you for a life of ministry and discipleship.
Christ’s command in the Great Commission is to make disciples. Followers of Jesus need to practice, gain experience, and be trained to be good disciple makers. Serving mid-term provides you with a practical training ground for disciple making.
As we all know, disciple making is done to us and done by us. God has designed disciple making to produce sanctification in us through those who disciple us and in turn to produce sanctification in those we disciple. Serving on a missionary team that is focused on prayer, evangelism, disciple making, and church planting provides a unique laboratory for you to train for a life of discipleship and ministry.
Furthermore, learning to do all of this in a cross-cultural setting enables one to gain critical experience that will benefit them for the rest of their life, regardless of vocation or location. Intense, focused, and concentrated time praying, sharing the gospel, teaching the Word, and modeling the character of Christ in a cross-cultural setting will help equip and prepare you for a life of disciple making.
“The IMB has a plethora of mid-term opportunities for you to explore and pursue.”
If you’ve served on several short-term trips and sense God is now leading you to go for an extended period of time, make an immediate appointment to meet with your pastor. The IMB has a plethora of mid-term opportunities for you to explore and pursue. These opportunities will help expose, educate, and equip you for a meaningful and intentional life of ministry and discipleship. You’ll be challenged, you’ll grow, and you’ll be thankful you took the time to invest a season of your life among the nations on a missionary team.
Paul Akin is the team leader of assessment and deployment at the IMB. He can be found on Twitter @PAkin33.
Editor’s note: Apply today for a mid-term opportunity!