Developing Long-Term International Partnerships

Van Simmons

Check out these 9 steps for helping connect your college ministry with missions partners around the globe!


PRAY! There is no substitute for focused, persistent prayer in determining what God is calling your group to do. As you pray, decide to be obedient to His direction in your lives, even if it is costly in terms of personal or financial obedience. As James 5:16 states, “The urgent request of a righteous man is very powerful in its effect.”


Determine the interests, skills and availability of anticipated participants from your group. Do an honest assessment of what your group is capable of doing and when would be the best time to involve the greatest number of students. Involve your leaders in this assessment to assist them in developing leadership and critical thinking skills.


Create a list of potential partners utilizing your personal networks, local churches, state collegiate leaders and the IMB Student Team. One of the best sources of new ministry partnerships is talking with people who know you and the ministry you lead. Their experiences, both positive and negative, can guide you and help inform your decision making regarding new partners.

Your IMB Student Team contacts who can assist you are:

  • Chad Stillwell, Director, Student Strategies/ Field Relationships, 804-219-1434, cstillwell@imb.org
  • Angela Sanford, Student Teams/One Life Initiative, 804-219-1363, asanford@imb.org
  • George Siler, Youth Ministers, International World Changers, 804-219-1397, gsiler@imb.org
  • Van Simmons, Campus Ministries/Individual Student Applicants, 804-219-1371, vsimmons@imb.org


Make contact with potential partners. Utilize all appropriate means of communication (Skype, email telephone, etc.) to learn about their field needs/dreams, understand their philosophy of ministry, clarify vision, articulate expectations and discover how they do their work and get things done.

 STEP 5:

Assess compatibility of your group’s interests, skills, availability and calling from God with the needs and leadership the local ministry.  Matching these elements with the needs of a location of ministry is crucial. Without the proper “fit”, the expectations of the field and the abilities of your students may be at odds with one another and create a disappointing and frustrating experience for everyone. NOW is the time to determine whether to move forward with this partnership or find another one that would be better for your group and this potential ministry partner.


Make a field visit to your ministry site. This field visit should occur several months prior to your team going to the field. During the visit, it is imperative that you hear from them what their expectations are and clearly state the expectations and abilities of your team as well. Another important element is outlining practical ministry steps, practices, objectives, goals and measures of accomplishment. Your need to leave knowing what your group or individuals will do when they come to the field with whom you are partnering.


Develop a plan for teams and individuals to participate in ministry to accomplish the objectives and goals you have agreed upon with your field partner. Planning, attention to detail and flexibility are keys to a fulfilling experience for everyone. If possible, have the field partner share their expectations directly with your group. This can be done face to face while they are home on a stateside visit or via electronic means such as Skype. It may also be helpful to determine the length of time you are committed to this partnership. This may affect the timetable in which you attempt to accomplish things.


Implement plans and regularly assess, evaluate accomplishments and refocus as needed. You have laid the groundwork and done the preparation, now enjoy the experience! Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments along the way and debrief regularly. Deal with any issues or concerns immediately and with grace.


Conclude the partnership as needed and move on to other partnerships as God leads. How we end things affects how we begin the next thing or future projects. As appropriate and agreed upon, bring a positive conclusion to this partnership and move forward under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to the next opportunity to which He leads you and your group.


Guest blogger Van Simmons is a member of the IMB Students Team and loves helping college students serve in missions around the world!

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