What Comes After the 2-Week Mission Trip?

7 Advantages of High-Quality, Mid-term Missionary Service

Today the face of missions has changed significantly. Most of our churches are filled with those who have participated in one to two week trips throughout the world. Not only have we seen an increase in these opportunities, but our members are also much more travelled than previous generations. With this comes a change in our missiological understanding of the task of missions and what “going to all the world” looks like. What comes next?

What should be the local churches’ response to young adults interested in serving the Lord cross-culturally? What should our response be to those who have had multiple week or two week experiences? Where do we direct them?

Avancistas - Year Interns

Avancistas – Year Interns

I’d like to suggest that mid-term, cross-cultural service is a great place to start.

Over the past 11 years, I have directed the Avance Missions Immersion Program in Mexico City. Our goal is to mobilize and equip young adults for cross-cultural mission service. We accompany participants as they serve for periods of two months to two years. They live with Mexican families, learn Spanish, and serve under Mexican leadership.

Anfitriona Family

Host Family

What are the benefits and advantages of this type of service?

I’d like to mention 7 advantages of a mid-term experience, with a program like Avance:

  1. Mid-term service gives the participant an opportunity to discover and explore their calling and gifts over an extended period.

Unlike a one or two week experience which gives just a taste of cross-cultural service, a more extended opportunity gives the participant time to discover and explore their calling, by participating in various ministries, resulting in more understanding of how God has wired and gifted them.

  1. Furthermore, it provides real experience in missions work tailored to their interests and level of experience.

Let me give just a sampling of some of our recent assignments:

  • Robin serving in student ministry in the Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México.
  • Laura teaching at a small international school for national pastors and missionary children.
  • Jared exploring church planting in a project in the Coyoacán district in Mexico City.
  • Alisa using her nursing skills in a small clinic and participating in monthly medical brigades in poor communities.
  • Isabel working with an anti-trafficking organization in a government detention center.
  • Kevin serving in a local church, auditing classes at a local seminary in preparation for theological education in Latin America.


  1. Mid-term service grants a clear, set time for language and cultural learning.

One very important task in cross-cultural service is that of language and cultural learning. Mid-term service is an effective testing ground for language acquisition and cross-cultural adaptation.groupavance

In Avance, participants are immersed in the culture through living with Mexican host families and working under national leadership.   Furthermore, they take Spanish classes geared towards their specific levels in the language and regularly use the language skills they are gaining in their host families and ministries.

  1. Mid-term missionary service creates space for feedback through coaching and mentoring.

 Participants in the Avance program receive regular coaching and mentoring from experienced missionary staff, looking at their development in terms of interpersonal relationships, cross-cultural understanding, language acquisition and spiritual growth.

We also use specific “inventories” to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses, as well as their specific “work-style preferences.”

  1. Mid-term missionary service is cost effective.

Unlike the longer-term worker, who needs to raise significant start-up funds, the mid-term worker does not. Shorter-term housing arrangements, the use of local transportation, and less overhead, make mid-term service very economic. Our current cost is just $1200 per month for a single, mid-term missionary.

Furthermore, a longer-term missionary who has had previous, effective mid-term service becomes a “less risky investment “ for churches and supporters, since they have a proven experience in cross-cultural service. This leads me to another advantage of mid-term service.

  1. Mid-term service is an ideal “on-ramp” for longer-term service.

Statistics show that most young adults do not settle on a career choice, without first being able to “try out” a number of options. Most are reluctant to “sign-on” before getting to know an organization and the type of ministry they will be involved in.

Mid-term missionary service allows this in a supportive environment that can help an individual evaluate their calling, gifting and fit for longer-term service.

Mid-term service also permits an “entry level” experience in support raising. Participants can get their feet wet developing a support team at a level that is a step of faith, but not as large a leap as it would be for long-term service.

It can also be a graceful “off-ramp” when a participant realizes that this is not the right fit, or that God is calling to another type of service. Not all are called to long-term service and a mid-term opportunity is an ideal place to find this out.

  1. Mid-term service creates vision for life-long missional service in God’s kingdom purposes.

With more than 40 years of service, Avance has over 3000 alumni. Many have gone on to serve cross-culturally both with United World Mission, as well as with many other missions and ministries throughout Latin American and other parts of the world. Other alumni are serving in local ministry, and many are passionately serving Christ in their professions, their communities and local churches.

Mid-term service is an effective launching pad in responding to God’s call to the nations. Consider it!

By: Paul Johnson, Director of Avance, Serving in Mexico