the shape of leadership

Five Ways to Maximize Your Missions Trip

Make the most of your service experience

Influence Magazine on May 31, 2018

Summer is a time for barbecues, camping and vacations. Perhaps you have plans to take your family on a trip somewhere or send your kids to children’s or youth camps. But have you considered a missions trip?

The long break of summer is a great opportunity to get your church involved in missions firsthand. Before you go, make sure you’re going the right way. Prayer is the number one prerequisite for any missions trip. But here are five other ways to make sure your team maximizes their time away.

1. Be Prepared

Training may not be fun for everyone, but knowing before you go not only helps you avoid headaches, it can also enhance your ability to do God’s work. Familiarize yourself with the local language, foods, customs and climate. This goes for home missions trips as well.

Highlight things to avoid. You may be going into a culture that frowns on men and women mixing in groups together. Be wise about what can cause offense.

Above all, allow God to do His work.

Being prepared also means knowing the role each person will play. You may be doing construction, hosting camps or outreaches, training locals or even planning large-scale rallies. Understanding that sometimes helping can hurt will give you a better sense of how to meet the needs of those you’re serving.

2. Give Updates

While you’re away, let those back home know how things are going. Nearly every cellphone plan has a way to add international data for a small additional charge. This lets you provide real-time updates.

Staying in touch lets members back home know how to pray, reassures them that everyone is safe and helps them feel like they are part of the experience. It can also be a way to encourage those on the trip as they read comments from people back home.

3. Keep a Journal

God will speak to you through this experience. Keep a record of what’s happening and what He is saying, and encourage others to do the same. When you get back home, you may want to revisit that journal from time to time.

A journal can also help participants process new experiences. Chances are, they’ll face some culture shock. Just jotting down notes can help them deal with that.

4. Make Friends

Connection is key to effectiveness on a missions trip. Make friends with those you’re serving. Remember, this isn’t about you coming to rescue them. In fact, local ministers are better equipped to serve their own people than you are.

Once you leave, make sure you stay in touch with them. Social media is a great way to stay connected and continue to encourage them.

5. Arrive Home Safe

The end of a trip can be bittersweet. You’re ready to get back home, but you’ll also miss the work you’ve done. Make sure that reentry goes smoothly.

Many people will ask about the trip, so have one or two stories ready to tell them. Avoid information overload, and be gracious when they don’t seem as excited as you are about the trip. You just had a lifechanging experience while life went on back home.

Above all, allow God to do His work. Paul taught us that some plant while others water, but God gives the increase. Knowing your place in His plan for missions is helpful in keeping your ego in check and your worries at bay. God is already at work before you get there. He’s at work while you’re on the ground. And He will be working long after you return home.


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