The IMTN was initiated by the Mission Commission (MC) of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in 1989 as the International Missionary Training Fellowship. At its first meeting, it surveyed issues related to missionary training in different parts of the world and published these findings in Internationalizing Missionary Training, edited by Dr. William Taylor. Along with this work, a Directory of Missionary Training Programmes was compiled by Dr. Ray Windsor who also attempted to classify nearly three hundred programs worldwide by criteria such as emphasis on non-formal or formal learning and whether or not they were dedicated fully to missionary training.
Through this initial dialogue, it became evident that best practice in missionary training had to focus on whole person training - not just theological and missiological understanding. Two additional books published by the MC in 1994 bore this out: Preparing to Serve, by Dr. David Harley, and Developing Ministry Training, edited by Dr. Robert Ferris. In subsequent years, the IMTN existed as a loosely knit fellowship, publishing an occasional bulletin entitled Training for Cross-cultural Ministry. In June 2003, during the Mission Commission’s triennial meetings in Canada, members of the training community prayerfully met and elaborated a series of recommendations for becoming a more proactive organization. Based on that imitative, the MC appointed long time staff member, Jonathan P. Lewis, Ph.D., as its Director in January 2005. Next the IMTN was directed by Rob Brynjolfson with Jonathan Lewis and Ian Benson as Associate Directors.
In 2011 a Steering Committee was formed at the WEA MC meetings in Germany.