What is Compass?

Practical Skills in Make or Break Issues

Understanding How to Learn a New Language

Preparation for Personal Vitality and Healthy Relationships


Anyone heading into long-term cross-cultural ministry (2 years or more) should consider Compass as necessary training that is foundational for effectiveness, endurance and enjoyment in your calling.

Are you heading into the great unknown of cross-cultural work on a mission for God?

Do you, and your family, know you’ll be navigating the tricky terrain of learning a new language?

Then it’s time for Compass to equip you with the indispensable tools you’ll need on the journey, as well as develop the attitudes necessary to reach your destination.

For the last 60 years, MTI has been the first choice of those agencies, individuals and families who want to start their journey in the right direction and who are willing to learn from those who have gone before.

The questions that lurk in the mind of every new cross-cultural messenger of the Gospel range from “Am I going to be another drop-out statistic?” to “Am I going to be the next Hudson Taylor?”   The answer to both questions directly relates to the quality of training you will receive.  The road of cross-cultural Kingdom endeavors is filled with good intentions that have unwittingly wreaked havoc on the cause. It is possible to go beyond good intentions and learn from those who have journeyed the tricky terrain before you and lived to tell about it…and love it.

The wisest man who lived instructs us not to be hasty and miss the way and yet zeal without knowledge does exactly that.  Zealous passion can allow ill-equipped, well-intentioned messengers to squander resources and hurt hearts. On the other hand, for those who follow the way of the Master, and count the cost, there can be joy in the journey, godly pride in being a hardworking servant in a tough field, and effectiveness in causes that will impact the Kingdom for eternity.

Make no mistake, Compass is not intended for short-termers.  Compass is for those who are endeavoring a significant cause for Christ and who know that they will have to learn the language and culture in order to be effective.

The timing of when you come is important. We would encourage you to attend Compass somewhere between 2-6 months before your overseas departure.  We find that if your training is too close to your departure, your mind will be distracted with logistics and your souls too unsettled for us to shape your equipping fully.  If your training is too far away from your departure date, you may not be as motivated or as able to retain your learning.  Of course, training at any time is better than none at all.

Compass provides the tools and skills necessary to navigate the disorienting terrain of cross-cultural ministry.  We only focus on the issues that will “make or break” you as a cross-cultural messenger of the Gospel.   We determine those skills by listening to hundreds of messengers returning from overseas in our confidential debriefings, the impact nationals say we are having overseas, and expert consensus.

Language learning is the primary skill necessary for cross-cultural effectiveness. Compass prepares you to become proficient in a new language.  You will develop the skills, methods, techniques and attitudes necessary to learn another language.

At Compass you will tune your ears and train your mouth to new sounds because “if you don’t hear it right, you won’t say it right.”

At Compass you will learn and practice more than 30 techniques for learning a new language – figuring out the techniques which suit you best and empowering you to be a life-long learner beyond language school.

At Compass you will develop a fresh perspective on how languages are best learned…on how you are in the driver’s seat of your own learning…on how learning a language to speak and comprehend isn’t like your High School language class where reading and writing ruled the day.

With the training you get at Compass, you will not only get more out of language school, you will be able to do personal language learning projects during and after language school. In addition, if you bring the skills and techniques you learn in Compass to Language School, you will be less dependent on the school; and you will leave with many ideas for continuing on in language learning.

At Compass you will grapple with the propensity we all have in the face of differences – to judge negatively the people and practices that deviate from our sense of what is normal.

At Compass you will be oriented to suspend judgment and remain open to new cultural ways while retaining your sense of mission and morals.

At Compass you will be challenged to constantly exit your world and enter those of your teammates, your kids, your spouse, and the nationals you hope to serve.

At Compass you will learn how the stress and spiritual warfare of crossing cultures impacts your team and your family.  You’ve probably heard it said, “the hardest part of missions is getting along with other missionaries.”

At Compass you will grapple with how team dynamics will likely affect you and how you will impact team dynamics.

At Compass you will live in a community under one roof experiencing the relational opportunities that can produce joy or struggle, depending on how you handle them.

At Compass you will learn how 90% of what makes or breaks cross-cultural messengers of the Gospel is related to their close relationships and how they handle those challenges internally.  How is your emotional intelligence?  How is your conversational intimacy and honesty with God?

At Compass you will be challenged to grapple with your ability to stop and get your bearings.  How developed is your Sabbath-heart, knowing how to stay connected to True North?

At Compass you will be given opportunity to grapple with the losses you are incurring – family, lands, community, houses.  How developed is your ability to grieve well?

The topics that Compass addresses as “make or break” are constantly being shaped by the hundreds of confidential debriefings (DAR) that MTI accomplishes each year – as well as backed by research and expert consensus.  But addressing the right topics is not enough.  Over the last 60 years, we have honed our methods, staff and the training environment in such a way that a program becomes a memorable experience which makes a significant difference to one’s effectiveness, endurance and personal vitality.

Compass focuses on keeping the whole family intact and embracing their journey to a new land.  Because of this, it is important for all family members that are moving overseas to attend Compass together. We have a separate children’s program for five different age-clusters which is coordinated with the adult program and a staff dedicated to healthy families.

Compass employs staff that have significant cross-cultural experience and are willing to be vulnerable about the paradoxes of cross-cultural ministry – the gory and the glory stories. 

Compass creates space for each community to form its own unique characteristics.  We all learn best when we have safe, vulnerable, engaged communities, but such communities cannot be forced, they must be given space to naturally form.

Compass utilizes methods that engage the mind, the heart, and the body in such a way that the learning is remembered – versus traditional use of lecture-only presentations.

Compass instills hope and confidence to a cross-cultural journey of unfamiliar terrain. Compass alumni consistently say I was heading overseas feeling apprehensive and fearful, but now I’m feeling optimistic that I can handle the hard realities.

Compass orients your character and attitudes in a direction that will have a lasting impact on your effectiveness, endurance and personal vitality.

Compass engenders a community of learners by providing a large facility that is tailor made for experiential learning, family bonding, personal reflection and community engagement.

Compass invests in your future.  Spending the money now – an equivalent to what it would cost for 1-2 months of overseas living with your agency – is well worth the effectiveness, endurances and personal vitality later, especially knowing that the average family unit costs $350,000 for a 4 year assignment.


Rates include tuition, materials, housing and food. Deposit is $300 per adult.

Adult $3997
Nursery $964
2-3 years old $1340
4-6 years old $1886
7-12 years old $2224
13 & Up $2635

Once your deposit payment has been processed and your application approved, you will receive an invoice for your outstanding balance. Compass prices for children are based on their age at the start of the program.

Register for Compass

Click on a program below to begin the registration process


MTI is the premiere missionary training organization in all of North America.   They are dedicated to fulfill their mandate through a highly relational ministry model that speaks directly to the ‘heart’ of the missionary family.   They are passionate about caring for the ‘souls’ of the men, women and children that come through their doors.
Perry Bradford, Executive Director, Barnabas International

This program has completely reconfigured my approach to language learning. I’m not only taking ownership of my language learning, but of the people themselves.
Compass Alumnus

For over twenty years now, MTI has helped our people adjust to living in a different culture, and has helped them last on the field.
Bob Osborne, Executive Director, World Harvest Mission

We believe that MTI provides the best possible foundation for serving cross-culturally. Today our new missionaries are coming out with high praise for MTI. As one twenty-three year-old young man put it, ‘Everyone should attend MTI!’
Mike Rodgers, Director of International Mobilization, The Navigators

Compass is very interactive and community building. It was very personal, focusing on families and singles, hands on simulations, and not just talking about Sabbath, but doing it!
Compass Alumnus