Planning and organizing mission trips is arduous. Think about all the pieces involved in a trip – choosing a ministry to assist, selecting a team, organizing travel, passports, health records, fundraising…you get the point. And if it’s your job to plan mission trips, this is all too familiar. But there are ways to make your next mission trip easier.
Start Planning Early
Hold information meetings to answer questions. The more information you can provide, the easier it is to get commitments from people.
People are busy, so start scheduling a year early. If your trip involves professionals (doctors, teachers, pastors) it’s necessary to give them time to coordinate their schedules to take the time off.
Start fundraising early and plan events to help reach your goals. With a year to raise funds, it is easier to plan and get fundraising events on the schedule.
The right mission team is essential, so get commitments early.
Require a comprehensive application. Don’t just collect contact info. Collect key information so leadership can get a sense of the individuals. What is their stage in life? Do they have ministry experience or mission experience? Are there special medical or dietary needs? What are their gifts/talents? What did references share? Do they have a passport, and what are the details, etc.?
Conduct interviews and background checks. It’s necessary to have a team that is compassionate about the cause and gets along. It’s also paramount that your team has the skills needed to fulfill the mission you’re helping.
Make the deposit non-refundable. Individuals must be serious about their intentions and realize they have something to lose if they can’t honor their commitment.
Travel is expensive with the post-pandemic need to get away. Give yourself time to book travel without incurring high fares based on demands. Start travel plans at least nine months in advance.
Have the mission team travel together. Don’t allow separate itineraries. Purchase refundable tickets. Try to secure batch tickets that often offer a discount. And be sure to purchase travel insurance to save headaches if something should happen.
Traveling to mission destinations often involves an exhausting trip, including several plane changes, ill-equipped airport facilities, long waits, minimal food options, and hygiene concerns. Try to book the most direct but financially sensible routes. Tired, sickly team members are the last thing your mission destination needs to be concerned with.
Schedule multiple training sessions and require attendance. Start six months out. Schedule sessions at a convenient time, like Sundays after your service, and allow several hours.
Have an agenda, and be sure to include:
- Cultural information specific to your mission destination.
- Vaccination and health advice (which medications are needed, what isn’t allowed, etc.)
- Team building exercises, icebreakers, and local trips to mosques, temples, and/or ethnic restaurants.
- Travel FAQs. Include applying for passports, must-have items, and recommendations for dress and comfort (bug spray, lotion, head coverings, netting, etc.).
- Review and complete all needed paperwork, emergency contact info, waivers, and copies of passports and visas.
- Distribute recommended reading for the local culture and team-building topics.
Mission trip costs can be substantial. Safe lodging, group transportation, supplies, and assistance for mission partners add up. Your mission team won’t be able to cover the cost themselves. Conduct training so they know how to raise the funds needed.
Training to raise funds should include:
- Developing a personal mission trip vision statement.
- Discussing and developing how to “make the ask” with the mission team and church leadership.
- How to write effective fundraising communications
- Sending letters, emails, and creating social media posts for family, friends, and fellow churchgoers.
- Recommend fundraising sources – including fellow congregants, local businesses, denominational resources, and employers.
Your church should also be a partner in fundraising efforts. Add a monthly collection, involve the youth group in carwash efforts, women’s club bake sales, sponsoring family night activities, etc. By supporting the mission team’s efforts, you show how important this work is to your ministry.
Following these guidelines will simplify many of the complications of mission trip planning. But you also need an integrated system to support and track all the pieces. Like the progress and status of document collection, a central location for storing documents, automating online donations, tracking the progress of all fundraising efforts, implementing background checks, and even travel arrangements. ACST has the products and services to make your mission planning easier.
For more information, download your Free guide Mission Trip Best Practices, now!
ACS Technologies sets a new standard in church technology, offering a holistic suite of solutions that streamline administrative tasks and empower your staff to excel in their roles and your church to excel in your community.
In the ever-evolving landscape of church engagement and management, ACS Technologies rises above the rest. Our comprehensive church solutions, bespoke digital offerings, streamlined communication tools, comprehensive ministry consulting, and training make us the trusted choice for over fifty thousand churches. Experience the ACS Technologies advantage and elevate your church’s online presence, connectivity, and generosity today. Join us in redefining church technology for the digital age, where your ministry’s success becomes our shared mission.