How to Plan a Church Mission Trip
The last commandment Jesus gave to his disciples while he was still on Earth was the Great Commission. He told them to go out into all the world, proclaiming the goodness of God and the truth about Jesus.
That command wasn’t just for the 12 disciples but for all of us Christians today. Each one of us has the opportunity to bring the message of hope to others. One of the best ways to do that today is by planning a mission trip with members of your local church.
Short-term missions trips are an amazing way to engage your local congregation with global missions. And you also get to support the work being done around the world through long-term missionaries and organizations.
But planning a cross-country trip for a group of people isn’t easy. Keep reading below to see what it takes to plan an effective church mission trip, along with some mission trip ideas to get you started.
- 1 Start in Prayer
- 2 Make a List of Locations
- 3 Consult Long-Term Missionaries
- 4 Connect With Non-Profit Organizations and Churches
- 5 Assemble Your Team
- 6 Fundraise
- 7 Check Vaccine Requirements
- 8 Get Insurance for the Team
- 9 Get a Good Deal on Flights
- 10 Hire Translators for Your Mission Trip
- 11 Prepare for the Worst
- 12 Worth the Effort
Start in Prayer
It’s easy to start dreaming about changing the world. And it’s easy to come up with plans and ideas of how we’d like to see it happen.
But the best way to start missions trip planning is prayer. The only reason we are planning a trip in the first place is to carry the good news about Jesus. Don’t you think we should ask him how to go about it?
Your missions planning journey should start with prayer. Gather together leaders from the church, along with those who are passionate about missions, and host a time of prayer.
Take a few weeks to get God’s heart for the trip you are hoping to plan. He can direct your steps, lead you to the right places people and, and make your trip much more effective than if you tried planning it without consulting him first.
Make a List of Locations
After your leadership team spends time in prayer, have everyone share the locations that are on their hearts. Makes a list of all possible locations.
Determine how many teams you would like to send out, as you may be able to send teams to multiple locations.
With a list of possibilities, start thinking about any partnerships or connections you have in any of the cities, states, or nations on the list. Going in blind is almost never the right thing to do. As a short-term team, your best bet is partnering with people who live and work long-term in the area you are visiting.
Make a list of people, churches, and organizations that you have connections to, as this could help you decide where to go.
Consult Long-Term Missionaries
Many churches send out long-term missionaries across the globe, supporting them financially, and providing a network of support for them as they live abroad.
If your church has a network of missionaries, consult those working in the places you will be visiting. See if they have any need for a visiting team, and how your team can support the work that they are already doing.
More often than not, long-term missionaries greatly appreciate the support offered by willing, short-term teams.
Having people on the ground in the places you are traveling to can simplify logistics and make for a much less stressful experience.
Connect With Non-Profit Organizations and Churches
Aside from individual missionaries, consult any non-profit organizations, or missions organizations in the area that are going to visit. Organizations that rely on donations and volunteers would be more than happy to welcome your team.
These organizations are already a part of the local community and can connect your team with specific ministry opportunities, so your team can jump right in and start making a difference in the lives of others.
Assemble Your Team
As you continue developing ideas for your trip, you can start assembling your team of volunteers. Depending on the type of trip you are planning, it might be open to everyone, or it might cater to younger individuals or even families.
Planning trips during the summer is usually the easiest option for most people, as schools out and more people have flexible schedules. Though, if you are looking at a team of young adults, past school age, then it might work to plan a trip at any time of the year.
Present your trip opportunity during your church meetings, and host an interest meeting for anyone that would like more specific information. You can also create a detailed video explaining the trip, who it’s for, why it’s happening, and how to take part.
Succesful trips can have as few as four or five enthusiastic people, or as many as 20 or more, depending on your leadership capacity to lead the team and handle logistics.
Church mission trips have become synonymous with fundraising. And there’s a good reason for that.
Fundraising is an opportunity to engage your entire congregation, not just those who are going on the trip. Not everyone will be able to take time off of work to go on a mission trip, but still want to participate.
So by fundraising in one way or another, they’ll still get to be a big part of what God is going to do through the team.
Classic fundraising ideas include a car wash, lawn care, leaf removal, bake sales, concerts, and so forth. There are plenty of other creative ways that the team can raise funds as well, so planning a trip well in advance would help them to do so.
It’s also important to raise extra funds, above what is needed to pay for the expenses of the trip. With the extra money, you can bless the long-term missionaries, organizations, and churches that you are partnering with.
Not only have you been able to help them in a hands-on way, but you can provide them with abundant resources to carry on with their work after you leave.
Check Vaccine Requirements
If you’re traveling internationally, be sure to research medical and vaccine requirements for any areas you are traveling to. Some might be required for entry, while others might be a really good idea, to prevent diseases like malaria.
And of course, in 2022, many countries have COVID vaccine requirements for entry. Some won’t let you in at all without a vaccine, while others may require a quarantine for unvaccinated travelers (which your team probably doesn’t have time for).
There are many countries that don’t have vaccine or quarantine requirements, however, which can simplify the entry process for traveling groups.
Get Insurance for the Team
Insurance is important whether the team is traveling in the US or abroad. For trips within the US, a separate travel insurance policy wouldn’t be required.
But there are insurance programs for churches that could cover provide trip coverage for local mission teams. Coverage options can help with injuries, kidnapping, or other crimes and injuries that could result as a result of missions.
Those traveling abroad would need individual travel insurance policies. If purchasing for an entire group, you can likely find a bulk discount on an effective policy. Travel insurance is very affordable unless you are performing high-risk activities like bungee jumping or scuba diving.
It can also help cover the cost of lost or stolen luggage, delayed or miss flights, and other travel mishaps, which could be expensive since you traveling as a group.
Get a Good Deal on Flights
Each person on your team should be responsible for raising the funds needed. However, since you’re all going to the same place, it’s a better option to purchase flights for the entire team, rather than have everyone book their own flight.
You can work with a travel agency to help you find better deals on group flights, helping the team to save money and simplify logistics.
Hire Translators for Your Mission Trip
If you’re traveling to a non-English speaking nation, you’re going to need to work with translators. While certain organizations may have translators you can work with, it’s always best to plan on hiring translators.
Traveling with your team and facilitating conversations is a lot of work, and you should compensate your translators accordingly. Many churches and missions organizations may have staff or volunteers you can hire, which would be a better option than working through a third-party company.
Prepare for the Worst
No matter how much you plan, things aren’t always going to work out. But the success of your mission trip isn’t defined by how smooth it goes, it’s defined by the impact it makes.
Regardless, you should always have a backup plan. Always have emergency funds. Have local contacts you can reach out to, in case of an emergency.
And bring cash, both American dollars, and the local currency. Cash will come in handy more than once. Just don’t walk around with loads of cash on you at all times.
Worth the Effort
Planning a mission trip is a fun, fulfilling endeavor. There’s a lot that goes into it, to ensure the safety of your team, and an impact on the locations you visit.
But if done correctly, lives will be changed, hearts will be healed, and the goodness of God will be revealed.
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