Missions is an integral part of the body of Christ, and as such, there are hundreds of organizations and programs specifically designed to enable Christians to go and fulfill the Great Commission. So if you’re looking to become a long-term missionary or to get involved in short term missions, there are endless opportunities from the Local church to non-profits and universities.
I have taken the time to sort through all of the options and list the ones that are top-rated and offer the best programs and opportunities, so let’s take a look.
What are the top missionary programs around the world and why? The top missionary programs around the world are as follows:
- Adventures in Missions
- Appalachian Bible College
- Bethany Global University
- International Mission Board
- Iris Global Schools
- Moody Bible Institute
- World Race
- Youth With a Mission
Why These Programs Are at the Top
All of the programs in this list have been carefully picked according to their mission and how it lines up with scripture, there effectiveness and quality, and practicality.
They are not listed in order of importance but instead, alphabetical order. Also, each one is included with a link to the program’s website for those of you who are interested in learning more about the organization.
Adventures in Missions
Adventures in Missions is a discipleship program that was started in 1989 by Seth Barns, this ministry focuses on training and sending missionaries all over the world. And from its beginning in 1989 to today, it has sent over 115,00 Christians into the mission field.
We exist to mobilize a generation of radical Christ followers, discipling and training them to establish the Kingdom of God.– Adventures in Missions
Adventures in Missions offer countless ways to get involved in missions work, they provide short term opportunities, as well as long term trips and, are the masterminds behind World Race and World Race Gap year, which are also featured on this list.
Appalachian Bible College
Appalachian Bible College is located in Mount Hope West Virginia; it was established in 1950 and offers Bachelor’s, Associate’s, and Master’s degrees. ABC ‘s heart is to provide students with a solid foundation in the Bible that can carry through the rest of their education and serve to lead them into every area of life with a passion and knowledge of Christ.
What makes Appalachian Bible College rise to the top among accredited Bible colleges and Christian universities? An unwavering belief that, no matter your vocation, as a Christian you are called to know and apply God’s Word. For this reason, each Bachelor of Arts recipient graduates with two majors—one in Bible and Theology, the other in the Ministry Major of your choice.– Appalachian Bible College
One of the majors that ABC offers alongside Bible and Theology is a Missions Degree. The missions degree has five concentrations to choose from:
- Biblical Languages
- Foreign Language
- International Studies
- TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language)
All of the programs offer a 4-8 week internship where you can put what you have learned into practice, but the International Studies concentration provides future missionary students with the opportunity to spend 11 months overseas in Peru, during their Junior year.
Then, at the end of the student’s year overseas they will return to ABC to finish out their senior year on campus. The 11-month internship gives you practical skills and knowledge that is necessary to missionaries, and in addition to this, an extensive amount of time will be spent learning the language.
Bethany Global University
This one I might be somewhat biased on, which is only because I am currently a student at this University and know first hand how incredible the program really is. If there is one word I would use to describe BGU it would be: “Unique.” The second word would be: “Practical.”
If you search the web for a missions school you will never come close to finding one that resembles this one.
Bethany Global University is an accredited college that began in 1948. It offers an Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degree.
The Bachelor’s Program offers 3 majors in total: Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Early Childhood Education, and Transformational Entrepreneurship in Missions.
The Master’s Program offers three areas of study as well: Intercultural Ministry Studies, Intercultural Leadership Studies, and Intercultural Ministry Education.
And lastly, the Associate’s Program follows the course of the freshman class, but during the second year deviates somewhat. Students who go through the associate’s program will spend 6-8 weeks in South America doing missions work and then return to spend their last quarter back on campus.
The sole focus of this university is to train up and send missionaries into the world.
Now for the really cool part.
BGU students spend freshman and sophomore year on campus taking classes in Bible and Theology as well as other classes that go towards their degrees. Then at the start of junior year, students will go overseas to spend 16 months in one of the 11 locations across the globe that the school has established through permanent missionaries who live there.
But that’s not all.
Bethany Global is 1 of only 9 work colleges in the United States. This means that tuition is paid in full because students spend 15 hours a week working on campus to pay the full cost of tuition. My favorite part of this work college model is that as you’re earning your degree, you’re also building both your resume and workplace skills.
The whole school was built upon practical application that you cannot find in another university and by the time you graduate you will be miles ahead of the average college student who has only read and practiced their area of study in theory.
International Mission Board
IMB is a missionary sending organization that currently has over 3,600 missionaries overseas right now. They specialize in raising funds to send missionaries and provide many ways to get involved in short-term, mid-term, and long term missions trips.
God has given His vision to the church. That vision, expressed so clearly in Revelation 7:9 of a multitude of every language, people and tribe and nation, is His vision.– Dr. Paul Chitwood, IMB CEO.
For highschool and college students seeking out missions opportunities through IMB, they have multiple ways to a part of missions, and their options are designed to fit your schedule, whether in school, on break, or freshly graduated.
IMB is a reputable organization that has been around for a long time and are backed by the Southern Baptist Convention. They are a great organization because they provide all missionaries who go out through them with training that they can take to the field. Because they have been in the game for so long IMB is able to assist missionaries effectively and efficiently.
The next on the list is Heidi and Rolland Baker’s missions focused ministry, Iris Global. Iris Global has plenty of opportunities to get involved in both long term and short term missions, as well as training while overseas. Perhaps the best program they have is their Iris Global Schools.
Global Schools range in focus and length. Come learn the heart and core values of Iris Global and to go deeper in capturing God’s heart while also being trained in practical ministry and leadership skills.– Iris Global
Iris Global School ranges from 1-2 months and has locations all over the world, from Africa to Europe to South America, and many other locations. They focus on training and discipleship, and they also open the door to extended trips through interning with their ministry.
Overall, Iris global has a beautiful heart for the lost and unreached people of the world, Heidi Baker and her husband through obedience to the Lord, have created an effective ministry that is seeing lives changed.
Moody Bible Institute
Moody Bible Institute has a rich history beginning with the man who founded it and for which it is named. The school began in 1886 and has many degree opportunities ranging from pastoral studies and music and worship leading to intercultural studies. The intercultural studies BA is geared towards missions and gives students the proper tools to go overseas and effectively do missions.
As a higher education and media ministry, Moody exists to equip people with the truth of God’s Word to be maturing followers of Christ who are making disciples around the world.– Moody Bible Institute
Along with then Intercultural degree, Moody has degree programs in Missionary Aviation Technology, TESOL (teaching English as a second language), and many other missions focused degrees. Moody is unique in that it doesn’t provide the basic degree programs for missions work but provides different kinds of areas of study that can be taken overseas and tested on mission trips and internships through the school itself.
Overall, Moody is a fantastic school that focuses on the heart of God, it produces graduates who are on fire for God and seek to take that fire and the Gospel to all the nations.
Operation Mobilization is another sending organization that focuses on sending missionaries to the unreached people groups of the world. Their hearts are geared towards rethinking the way missions have done for the last several decades.
Western missions has traditionally focused on one method: believers leaving their jobs, going abroad to work in ministry and relying on those back home for financial support. Where this approach once saw millions come to know Jesus, it can no longer keep pace with the rapidly changing global landscape and the growing population of unreached people.– Operation Mobilization
They do missions through three primary ways: Marketplace Workers, National Workers, and Cross-Cultural Workers.
OM seeks to train and send missionaries that are already locals in the community, they seek to send workers who will take their marketplace work overseas and engage the unreached culture, and also send international workers (short-term and long-term) to spread the Gospel in traditional and non-traditional ways.
World Race and World Race: Gap Year
World Race is a sending and training missionary program for young adults from ages 25-35 that visits 11 sites in 11 months. First, you choose your route, and they generally have about 7 routes to choose from. One of their routes this year goes from South Africa to Indonesia and hit these countries on the way: South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ethiopia, Nepal, India – PVT, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia.
What do ‘racers’ do when they partner with the World Race for 11 months? Those who work alongside the World Race’s mission receive constant training, discipleship, and mentorship, as they work with already established long term missionaries along the route.
The work racers do vary based on the needs of the location, so you can expect to do new and different things at each site. Though World Race is a fast-paced program, it is a good way for someone who is seeking training in missions to gain the knowledge that they need, or for someone who is exploring the idea of long term missions, it can help you to wet your feet with the reality of what missions is really like.
While similar to World Race’s model of missions work, Gap Year has its variations and aims at a specific target. The gap year program is a program for 18-20 year olds (18-23 depending on the route), that visits three countries over the course of 9-months.
The World Race currently serves in dozens of countries, spanning from the tip of South America to the vast wild of Mongolia, and focuses on three main areas: mission, discipleship, and adventure. The World Race is different because it is the only mission program that allows you to go to more countries than the average gap year program covering 3 continents in 9 months. And you’ll learn by doing.– World Race: Gap Year
Gap Year is designed to help those who are taking time off school to pursue something while they’re either taking time off of school or searching for the next step.
Youth With a Mission
Most people recognize Youth With a Mission as YWAM, and it is on this list because of the endless opportunities it presents as well as the depth in which the discipleship schools lead you.
YWAM began in 1960, with hearts set on involving Christians of all ages, from 9-90, to carry out the Great Commission. They seek to train and make disciples who are equipped to take the Gospel to the darkest places on earth.
What is their method for doing this?
YWAM implements its vision through their 5-6 month long DTS program.
What is a DTS program?
The Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS) seeks to bring you into a more intimate relationship with God. It also gives you an opportunity to discover your passions and your part in God’s purposes for the world. It is for those who long to follow Jesus in new ways with a different perspective.– Youth With a Mission
A DTS is the main focus of YWAM and it stands for Discipleship Training School. YWAM has over two-hundred sites all over the world and each site offers basic Bible understanding as well as areas of focus like worship leading, specific locations, and more. YWAM is very unique and presents an array of opportunities that come from doing a single DTS, for instance, you can do a DTS locally or overseas and apply those credits to some universities to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Dallas Baptist University, Houghton College, John Wesley University, Patten University, are some examples of colleges that accept YWAM DTS credits. Another amazing opportunity is found at the University of the Nations YWAM’s own university. They offer several areas of study, such as leadership, communication, education, and more.
YWAM is an incredible, ever-growing ministry that changes lives and nations. I have known so many people who have done a DTS locally and overseas, and their experiences changed their lives.
Tips on Picking the Right Program
When looking into an organization or program, the most important thing to take into account is whether they hold to Biblically sound doctrine. So when considering who to get connected and trained by, do some research, ask them hard questions, ask those who have already gone through them what their experience was, etc.
Next, whoever you are going through should have a clear and organized home support team, whether short, medium, or long-term, this is very important. Missions work gets hard, especially when you’ve left your family and all that you know behind. Therefore, it is important to have a support team that is there to back you, pray for you, communicate with you, and encourage you. A team is always more successful than a lone person.
And my last tip for this blog post is this: ask whether the program is the best suited to what you want to do long-term. Each program will most likely have an emphasis on something, so do some research and find out which one will further the skills you would like to sharpen. Find out if it fits your age range, if it provides training in a specific area, etc.
All in all, the above programs are reputable and have countless numbers of students and people who have gone through them and have great things to say, try reaching out to one and see if it fits what you’re looking for!