Global Ministries

The United Methodist Church

Connecting the Church in Mission

Guidelines for Hosting Volunteers

(Text below is Part III of "Guidelines for Sending and Hosting United Methodist Volunteers in Mission")

Before Requesting Volunteer Teams

Identify needs (perhaps with help from Global Ministries).

  • Complete a Project Profile sheet or clearly define project needs and objectives to submit through appropriate (United) Methodist Church officials(s) for prioritization.
  • Attach photographs of project where possible.
  • Include project / design specifications if applicable (approved by church / community professional).
  • Verify that local Church / community is committed to continuing this ministry / project and to receive and welcome volunteer mission teams.
  • Verify that it will be locally maintained and insured with continued funding by local or national church.
  • Set specifications and direct the project technically.
  • Recommend project(s) to committee.
Communication is important.

  • Promote project through church (locally, regionally, nationally).
  • Invite Volunteer in Mission leaders to visit project site and share how projects fit into the overall vision of the host church.
  • Develop plan for communicating with team leader (including updates regarding project status).
  • Clarify best means of communication (phone, fax, e-mail).
  • Keep a list of individuals willing to interpret for teams as needed.
Decide how to schedule teams.

  • Accept only number of teams that can be adequately hosted and determine the number of team members per team. Things to consider: scope of project, age, & skills needed.
  • Housing availability (depends on season & suitability for particular project implementation).
  • No more than one team per time period.
  • Assess availability of construction materials.
  • Host has permission to say "no" to sending team.
Plan for adequate accommodations.

  • Meals/lodging
  • On-site coordinators
  • Local travel accommodations
  • Adequate Hospital and medical services to accommodate mission
  • Identify what tools teams will need (Suggestion: establish a "tool bank" of tools for volunteers to use when they come on mission)

Prepare an anticipated budget.

  • Project expenses (itemize in stages for multi-team completion)
  • Itemize team expenses (i.e. lodging, food, in-country transportation, coordinating fee, cultural experiences, labor cost, interpreters, cooks, day laborers, guards).
  • Account for inflation and exchange rates that may fluctuate.

9-12 Months Before Team Arrives

Maintain clear communication with team leader or designated contact person regarding:

Project details

  • Maximum acceptable number of team members
  • Nature of work and anticipated tools/skills needed
  • Mutually agreed upon dates and expectations
  • Define goals regarding relationships and experiences with incoming teams
  • Encourage team leader to pre-site the project
  • Method(s) of funding and accountability of monies sent

  • Provision of letter of formal invitation from sponsoring entity for customs requirements
  • Local contact person / phone numbers
  • Person to meet team
  • Need or availability of interpreter
  • Items to bring (sleeping bags, sheets, towels, toiletries, Bibles, etc.)
  • Preparation of meals by host or team
  • Grocery shopping done by host or team
  • Availability of suitable drinking water and cost of bottled water
  • Weather
  • Type of housing available

  • State clearly expectations for team and team leader
  • Advise team leader of necessary medical insurance and immunizations
  • Required legal documents (passports and copies, visas, work permits, verification of professional credentials, i.e., physician's license)
  • Location and number of embassy and consulate
  • Sensitivities to religion, culture and local customs (i.e., alcohol, drugs, smoking, dress, behavior, gestures and mores)
  • Offer useful translated phrases (i.e., praise and worship phrases)
  • History of area and project
  • Local regulations with respect to motor vehicles (insurance, drivers license)
  • Address of project and phone number of key local leaders
Advise team leader of (expected) costs.

  • Request that funds for materials be sent in advance.

3-4 Months Before Team Arrives

Inform team leader of local coordinator that will host team; local construction coordinator.

Covenant for Mission Partnership (sample attached)

Advise team regarding visa ("tourist" not "missionary").

1-2 Months Before Team Arrives

Recruit support team of volunteers from local church for specific host tasks (i.e. a liaison for specific issues that may arise)

Prepare host volunteers to cultural sensitivity regarding incoming team.

  • May include team-building for hosting volunteers
  • Appropriate offering of gifts
  • Know demographics and names of in-coming team members.
  • Inquire about dietary needs (allergies, medical conditions, personal medications).
  • Personal information (gender, traveling with spouse, age, skills, talents and hobbies)
Finalize and confirm arrangements.

  • Method of currency exchange
  • Tools needed or provided
  • Lodging and meals
  • Transportation or plans to receive team and time of arrival
  • Review expectations with team leader.
  • Request list of items to be cleared at customs and inform team of potential costs.
Prepare work site/ministry.

  • Have materials on site or arrange to be purchased.
  • Confirm work to be done.
Prepare to be flexible and identify back-up host.

When Team Arrives

Meet and welcome team at port of entry (suggestion: use a sign for identification).

  • Be prepared to assist with customs officials if needed or permitted.
  • Provide adequate transportation to accommodate members, luggage, and supplies to housing.
Inventory tool or materials that are being brought by team.

Consider taking picture of arriving team.

Provide on-site orientation for team.

  • Include information about the country and Methodism, how team members can relate effectively with locals, specific "do's" and "don'ts".
  • May post schedule of planned activities.

During Team's Visit

Check frequently with team leader that all plans/arrangements are working.
  • Attend to the safety/security needs of team.
  • Address issues/problems as they arise.
Verify with locals that their plans/arrangements are working.

  • Visit site daily.
Offer opportunities for fellowship with team.

  • Involve local Christian community in worship and witness, and work with volunteer teams to celebrate the joy of mission and the Christian Experience.
  • Encourage daily sharing of reflections.
  • Visit other churches or mission sites.
  • Host a talent night.
Coordinate and provide culture opportunities with team.

  • Enjoy music from host community and team.

Before Departure of Team

Plan for a time of sharing with team.

  • Include a time of mutual assessment of experience.
  • If inclined, invite the team leader to send a written evaluation at a later date.
Provide team leader with a completed financial report.

Assist with confirmation of travel arrangements.

Plan with team leader, a time for good-byes.

  • Include a time of celebrations and/or worship.
  • Present appreciation certificates to team members when possible.
  • Establish way to stay in touch with visiting team (prayer support, networking, etc.).
Provide transportation to port of departure.

After Team Departs

If requested by team, send a written evaluation to the appropriate office.

  • Include: team's work and contributions, update on progress of project, future team needs.
Where possible, report mission experience to local media.

  • If published, send copy to team leader.