What does it look like to answer the first century call of Jesus to “go” in today’s world? When we hear the word “missions,” Christians often think of selling everything, moving to another country, learning the language and living in a grass hut for the sake of the Gospel. We think of people (Jim and Elisabeth Elliott, for example) who gave/give everything away in order to relocate across the globe. In reality, when we say the word “missions,” we aren’t necessarily talking about something on such a large scale. In fact, short-term mission trips also give people the opportunity to travel to an unfamiliar place for just a week or two, participate in the work of the Lord and adopt a missional lifestyle that can ultimately enhance the spiritual climate of the church back home.
5 Essential Questions for Missions
Before reading the best practices, or considering any mission trip (long or short term), a church and its leadership must first clarify its theology of missions. Mission Trip Best Practices: The Top Ten outlines the following 5 essential questions; and while the answers will vary from church to church, the call to “go” is unifying:
- What does the church believe about its calling to missions?
- And what does the church see as the result of missions at home and around the world?
- What is its strategy for discipling the nations?
- How can individuals participate in this strategy?
- How much is the church willing to financially back these strategies and fund objectives that will help the church reach its missiological goals?
These are weighty questions worth serious consideration, and even debate, by pastors and elders alike. The three P’s (principles, policies, and paradigms) for the church’s theology of missions should also be both recorded and communicated clearly to the congregation on a regular basis. Anyone who has a question must be heard and a response given. If the church is able, it should hire and appoint a staff member to own the mission’s strategy. A missions committee can also help with this important work. Clarity is essential before planning any mission trip. Start there, and everything else will flow freely from that careful process.
A Missionary Mindset
Leading a mission team that involves the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and the lives of those under your care is a serious matter that takes careful planning. Lay your plans before the Lord in prayer remembering that “unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). Think through every single step from beginning to end and strive for excellence. “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
“Missions” is HOW the name of God is proclaimed to all the earth. Christians must be missionary minded wherever they are. Acts 1:8 says, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Note here, that Jesus intentionally names places both near and far. First, Christ told the disciples to go to Jerusalem where many of His disciples already lived. Then, Jesus instructed them to go to the neighboring regions of Judea and Samaria. Finally, Jesus said to go to ALL the earth.
Mission trips empower Christians to serve in high need environments, 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, and- to make it even easier 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.
Leigh Ann Shelley joined the ACST team in 2019 as a Product Marketing Manager, overseeing the launch and overall communication of key solutions to support the church’s needs. Prior to joining ACST, she spent several years in communications and graphic design roles, most notably as a Communications Director for a large church in Florence, SC, where she leveraged Realm to help solve key ministry challenges.