Part 3 of 4 The essential preparation stages to ensure a life-changing experience for all
Planning and participating in a mission trip is a rewarding and transformative experience for everyone involved. Not only does it allow us to serve others and spread the love of Christ around the world, but it also gives us a special opportunity to deepen our own faith and grow closer to God.
Unfortunately, efforts to plan and pull off a successful trip face all-new challenges in a post-pandemic world. Undeniably, the number of people attending church and actively participating in faith activities has declined. That will present challenges when recruiting individuals to go on a mission trip, no matter how meaningful or impactful it may be. Yes, it’s more difficult, but it’s not impossible to find people passionate about serving and making a difference in the world via a mission trip. By engaging members of the church in spiritual enlightenment opportunities, spreading awareness, putting together the right team, removing barriers and creating a sense of community, you can successfully recruit individuals to join in the effort.
Here are the six most important steps you can take to effectively recruit and engage people in your mission trip experience:
Start by promoting these trips during church services or events, on the website and social media pages and by reaching out to active and lapsed members directly and frequently. Consider creating a mission trip packet that you can share with interested individuals. Make sure the purpose of the trip is clear and emphasize the opportunity for meaningful impact as well as personal and spiritual growth.
Identify team leaders.
The process will go much more smoothly if you identify and engage leaders to help with various aspects of the planning, recruiting and logistics. Remember, many hands make light work. People who are passionate, well-connected and influential in the congregation are perfectly suited to play a leadership role with the mission trip. They can be especially pivotal in recruiting other members to join the effort in one way or another.
Address concerns and barriers.
A common concern is going to be the financial burden of the mission trip. Don’t dismiss it. Instead, help alleviate this concern right away by providing information on fundraising opportunities, sponsorships, scholarships or other financial support that may be available. Brainstorm ideas and encourage people who cannot physically participate in the trip themselves to prayerfully consider offering financial support instead. Consider a special collection in addition to regular collections to help fund the effort. Be transparent about the overall costs of the trip and provide detailed information about how funds will be used.
Another concern may likely be the safety and logistics of the trip. It’s crucial to provide detailed information about the destination, accommodations, transportation and any necessary immunizations, passports or special safety precautions. Be sure to have a plan in place for contingencies or emergencies that may arise and communicate it.
Create a sense of community.
Many individuals may feel hesitant to sign up for a mission trip if they don’t know anyone else going. You can help alleviate this by hosting informational meetings, social events or team-building activities before the trip. This will allow everyone to get to know each other, build relationships and create a sense of community before embarking on the mission trip.
Have a prayer and reflection plan.
It’s essential to provide ongoing support and resources to the group throughout the experience. That includes before, during and after the trip. Mission trips can be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually draining. So prayer support, training, devotionals, reflections and debriefing sessions can be a huge help. Your members should feel supported and valued throughout their entire experience.
Share with those back at home.
Don’t forget to keep everyone in the congregation updated on the activities, progress and impact that’s happening — while it’s happening. Post stories and updates on social media channels, send videos or voice notes that can be shared during church services. Make every effort to journal about the experience so stories can be told and celebrated later too.
Short-term mission trips create a perfect opportunity to engage in meaningful service. Connect with others on a deeper level and grow exponentially in faith. As Christians, we are called to keep our eyes on Christ and to trust in His guidance as we seek to make a difference in the world. As Psalm 37:5 reminds us, “Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will act.”
For a more in-depth guide to mission trip planning, download The Top Ten Mission Trip Best Practices.
Next up in this four-part series, we’ll review logistics and how to flawlessly execute your mission trip.
Join us for a LIVE webinar on mission trips!
Find out how Realm’s latest integration makes managing mission trips a breeze on April 20 at 1:00 PM ET!