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Where Will You Serve? A Q & A with Short-Term Team Coordinator Sandy Kohlmeier

Tue, Jan 19, 2016

News, Poland, Serve Now Spotlight, Witness

Our missionaries on the ground have identified the need for 13 teams from The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) to come and help run English Bible Camps throughout Poland. Working together with the Short Term Team Coordinator at the LCMS International Center, teams are now being formed. There are 7 teams in the works, and 6 more are needed. Here is a Q & A with Short Term Team Coordinator, Sandy Kohlmeier. If you are interested in joining or forming a group to serve this summer in Central Europe, please read this Q & A for more information!

A team from the US arrives for service last summer in Poland. Photo by Benjamin Helge

A team from the US arrives for service last summer in Poland. Photo by Benjamin Helge

How the Short-Term Process works:

  1. If a congregation is interested in putting together a short-term mission team for Central Europe, what is their first step? Who do they contact and how? When a congregation is interested in sending a team to serve, the first step is to complete the online Short-Term Team application which can be found at www.lcms.org/service and clicking on “Short-Term Teams”.   This online application will connect the team to me, Sandy Kohlmeier, Coordinator of the Short-Term Mission program. I will be the St. Louis contact for connecting the team with the field and coordinating all of the stateside preparation. Generally, the team leader will be the designated point of contact through which I will funnel all information and communication for the group.
  1. When should they start thinking about fundraising? Fundraising can begin even before the entire team has been established. Once an opportunity is designated and the team knows where they will be serving, the St. Louis office will be able to share the costs for the team. That amount plus the cost of airfare will then be the target toward which the team should fundraise.
  1. Is there an estimate/starting point per person amount? This really depends on the opportunity destination. For Central Europe, the on-field costs can range anywhere from $400 to $1,300 per person, excluding airfare.
  1. How does someone who is interested find out about opportunities? The easiest way to view the current opportunities is to go to http://servenow.lcms.org From this site you can view all opportunities available. It is good to check back often as we are constantly updating the site with new opportunities. And, it is noteworthy that even if an opportunity is not listed, but there is a desire to serve in a particular capacity, there are occasions where the missionary on the field will be able to arrange something for a group to assist with some need.
  1. If an individual is interested, but their church does not want to/cannot send a team, can they join other teams? We often put together combined teams that will serve in a particular opportunity. These combined teams can come from other churches in the same relative location or from across the country. We strive to make sure that we have a good fit for all concerned.
  1. What types of groups create teams (i.e. churches, LWML, youth, etc.)? We have various groups that want to serve on Short-Term Teams. We of course, have LCMS congregational groups, LWML groups, university professors and students, and some high school youth groups as well.
  1. When do they need to have their paperwork in to the International Center? Once a team is defined and the St. Louis office has connected with the field to make sure the timing works for the team or individual and the field, the process is kicked off in our system. This means that letters and information begin to be sent to the team leader. Generally speaking, about two months before departure the forms that are sent to the team leader need to be returned to the St. Louis office.
  1. What are the benefits of working through the IC for short-term teams and coordinating with on-the-ground missionaries? The benefits are many. Initially, connecting with the International Center ensures that we will make contact with the missionary on the field and that they will have time to confirm that those communities, who will be served, are ready to receive volunteers. Secondly, for safety reasons it is desirable for the LCMS as the sponsoring church body to know where our members are serving, should there be a need to evacuate them in an emergency. Finally, because those serving are actually representing not only their respective congregation but the LCMS church-at-large, we want to ensure that all guidelines are followed and that those going to serve do so as an accompaniment to the ongoing work of the missionary and will not in any way create a hinderance or barrier to the work being done on the field. This is not to say that anyone would intentionally do anything to create difficulty, but as relationships around the world can be fragile and delicate, a team going on their own may not be aware of certain nuances or phrasing of things that could potentially jeopardize existing relationship building.

We in the Short-term program and the Office of International Mission, strive to make the experience a good one for all serving and do all we can to not make things complicated or time-consuming for anyone. We believe that for all concerned it is best to follow the guidelines set out by our Best Practices document which can be found by going to www.lcms.org/service .

We welcome and encourage all LCMS members who have a heart to serve the Lord through mission work by way of Short-Term Team or Individual opportunities to contact us. We want to help make the Short-Term experience of sharing God’s Word and Promises a rewarding and fulfilling one.

  • Learn more about serving from the perspectives of two volunteers here and here.
  • If you have further questions, please contact Sandy Kohlmeier at sandy.kohlmeier@lcms.org.
  • To learn more about the English Bible Camps in Poland, read this accompanying post.

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2 Responses to “Where Will You Serve? A Q & A with Short-Term Team Coordinator Sandy Kohlmeier”

  1. Cheryl Heitmann says:

    I have been on short term missions ion El Salvador. I would be interested on being on a team to help out where there is an opportunity.

  2. Elizabeth Ahlman says:

    Dear Cheryl, I will put you in touch with Sandy, and she can help you with the process of preparing/applying for another short term mission where there is one available. My name is Deaconess Elizabeth, I am the communication specialist for our region, and you’ll see an email from my LCMS account helping to put you in touch with Sandy. Thanks for your service and your interest in further service!

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