Part 2 of 4 The essential preparation stages to ensure a life-changing experience for all
Planning a short-term mission trip experience is sure to be an exciting and rewarding experience. At the same time, it can be a daunting challenge, especially if you’re staring down a blank slate like many church leaders are in a post-pandemic environment. Plans have been in flux for the past three years, but the need remains great, so it’s important to prioritize your congregation’s next mission trip experience. Many details need to be addressed, and managing everything on your own can be difficult. That’s why building a leadership team or assembling a planning committee is a crucial step in the process.
"Plans fail when there is no counsel, but they succeed when advisers are many." Proverbs 15:22
The advice and guidance of a leadership team or planning committee when making important decisions about your next mission trip experience can provide the counsel needed to ensure success for all involved.
Traits of good leaders
Before diving into the specifics of building your leadership team, let’s consider what makes a good leader.
Good leaders are:
- Visionary — They have a clear and compelling vision for the future.
- Passionate — They are passionate about what they do and inspire passion in others.
- Communicative — They are excellent communicators who clearly articulate their vision and goals.
- Collaborative — They work well with others and are able to build strong teams.
- Adaptable — They are flexible and can adjust to changing circumstances quickly without disruption.
- Problem solvers — They are able to identify and solve problems as they arise, sometimes on the spot.
- Positive — They maintain a positive attitude, even in difficult circumstances.
Building and cultivating your leadership team
Now that we’ve established the importance of a leadership team and the traits of good leaders let’s discuss how to create a leadership team for your mission trip experience. Here are the steps you’ll want to take in the process:
Identify potential team members.
Look for individuals who are passionate about your church’s mission and the possibilities the trip provides to serve and extend that mission. They should have the skills — and the time — needed to contribute to the planning process. This could include goal-setting, recruiting, fundraising, travel planning, mission work, medical services, safety or marketing, and communications expertise.
Clearly communicate the expectations for team members, including the time commitment, responsibilities, purpose, and goals of the mission trip. Ensure you set aside opportunities for training, discussion, open communication, and collaboration across the team.
Establish roles and responsibilities.
Assign specific roles and responsibilities to each team or committee member. This may include tasks like fundraising, travel planning, or coordinating service projects. Make sure the responsibilities are meaningful. People want to feel like their time is valued, so avoid assigning busy work to give them something to do.
Develop a project timeline.
Create a timeline for the planning process, including key deadlines for tasks. The project timeline should be detailed and clearly lay out tasks and subtasks, responsible parties, status updates, and deadlines. It should be shared and easily accessible across the team, so everyone is on the same page and always up-to-date on where things stand.
Hold regular planning sessions.
Communication across the team is the key to success, so hold regular meetings to discuss progress, address any issues, and ensure that everyone is aligned and on task. Attendance at these meetings should be required as part of the expectations of the team. Missing sessions hold everyone back, so communicate and address absences as they arise.
Have fun and grow in faith as a team.
Remember, people have many demands on their time, so plan ways to make participation fun and spiritually enriching for those who sign up. Sure, the work ahead is serious, but the reward is great, so take time to celebrate milestones and wins.
A well-organized and efficient planning committee will allow you to delegate and ensure that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. Your committee should be composed of individuals with various skills and expertise, including logistical planning, recruiting, fundraising, and spiritual guidance.
"The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps." Proverbs 16:9