Missions exist for the same reason as Christians: To glorify God and declare Christ’s wondrous love. Whether it’s a short-term mission trip or a permanent move across the globe, Christians should be on mission with ONE purpose, “To declare God’s glory among the nations and the Lord’s marvelous works among all the peoples” (Psalm 96:3). In a previous blog, The First Century Call of Jesus to “Go,” clarifying the local church’s theology of missions was introduced so that everything else will flow freely from that careful process.
So what is the “everything else” and how will it “flow freely?” The best practices for summer missions trips are constantly being evaluated. Here are some highlights from the recently accumulated Mission Trip Best Practices: The Top Ten guide to ensure summer missions trips are as successful and effective as they can be for both the people being served and the people doing the serving:
1. Choose the Best Ministry to Serve:
Summer missions trips are catalysts to creating long-term partnerships with ministries at home and abroad. Thus, it is important to choose a ministry to serve that is a good match for your church in theology, in size, in ethos, and in financial stability. A mismatch in any of these areas can cause challenges that may prevent ultimate effectiveness, while at the same time wasting money and mental and emotional energy as the partnership develops.
2. Choose the Best Trip Participants:
Creating a summer missions trip team is an important and challenging task that takes pastoral skill and divine guidance. Church leaders must depend on the leading of the Lord as they choose the best team members based on applicants’ personal testimony, their ministry understanding, travel experience, ability to get along with others, and general resilience.
3. Design an Excellent & Beneficial Trip:
It is the job of the Missions Pastor and the team leader to work together to design a trip that has multi-dimensional benefits. The trip must be helpful for the ministry being served, strategic for the church sending the team, as well as beneficial for the team participants themselves. It must be a careful balance between being supportive to the ministry being served, but not creating dependency or putting them at risk for persecution. The goal in all things is to be encouraging, uplifting, to use local resources, and to, ultimately, create self-sustainability. For the participants, the goal is to keep them safe and healthy, give them enough rest, ensure they are emotionally fulfilled, as well as spiritually discipled.
To achieve all these things is not easy. However, when the church leadership works together with the partner ministry leadership in true collaboration that has been developed over time, with trust and ownership being key factors, a trip can be designed that will be both effective and valuable.
4. Plan Travel.
The travel for a summer missions trip can be one of the most challenging and frustrating parts of the entire experience. Best tip: Fly together. Team leadership will most certainly receive multiple requests for separate itineraries. The best policy is to disallow any separate itineraries and avoid people meeting you there. Flying together builds team unity and avoids the chaos that can ensue if people traveling separate from the team are unduly delayed or re-routed.
5. Create a Leadership Team.
On any summer missions team, there will be the need for qualified, experienced leadership on several levels. Many mission teams are split into ministry teams that each have a separate focus. Those ministry teams need to be organized and led. There are also special roles for qualified individuals to play that require unique skills and resources that should be assigned and given responsibility.
Delving into the final five of the top ten best mission trip practices from team training to the end of the trip debriefing will round out this blog series. Remember that missions should be a daily lifestyle to declare Christ as King. Matthew 28:18-20 commands Christ followers to “go and make disciples.” This is a calling for all believers. God has gifted and wired each of us with different passions that pull us in a unique direction for building the Kingdom of Heaven. God calls Christians to proclaim the name of Jesus to the people around them.
The specific place, time and people is a unique calling. God sends some people to the other side of the globe while prompting others to stay right where they are to share the love of Christ with people from similar backgrounds, occupations and family structures. Whatever the mission, God’s calling is the same for all believers. To share the Gospel to a lost and hurting world.
Mission trips empower Christians to serve in high need environments. They live out their faith in practical ways and make a spiritual difference in the lives of people. Our newly released guide, Mission Trip Best Practices: The Top Ten, details why this is more than just missions: it’s building the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Mission trips can propel the body of Christ into missional living back home and influence other believers to do the same. It’s essential to develop close and lasting relationships with people. So you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
You don’t want to drop the ball on your next mission trip. Summer mission trips give your congregation a unique opportunity to serve others as you grow spiritually as a team.
Our ACST team wants to help your next summer mission trip be your best yet. That’s why we put together this new guide detailing ten best summer mission trip practices.
Cal joined the ACST team in 2004 and is currently the Market Strategy Manager serving denominational ministry partners. He received a degree in Secondary Education at Southeastern Bible College. Then, he pursued graduate work at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Cal has served on various local nonprofit organizations. They include The King’s Academy, a Christian school in Florence, SC., and R.E.A.C.H., an educational resource group based in Florence.