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4 Steps to Prepare for a Mission Trip


Preparing your group for a mission trip requires significant planning and attention

to detail. From fundraising to airfare to packing lists, there are a lot of boxes that

must be checked off before you can mobilize your team to serve in a different

context. It’s easy to get so caught up in what has to be done, that we sometimes

miss out on what should be done. Today we are going to look at four things you

should be doing right now to prepare for your upcoming mission trip.


1. Cast vision for your team.

If you fail to cast a vision for your group, they are going to come up with their own

criteria to evaluate success. When groups have the wrong goals in mind, they

can quickly become discouraged and frustrated if their expectations aren’t met

and might even consider the trip to be a failure. We need to help them

understand the goals of the trip and what success looks like.


First, we all need to understand that a mission trip is more about the long-

term impact than the short-term ministry. Hopefully what you are doing in the

short-term is connected to long-term strategy, and the local churches or

missionaries will be following up and building upon what you’ve done. As Paul

wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has

been making it grow.” Sometimes we plant seeds and sometimes we water them,

but we haven’t failed on our trip simply because the growth doesn’t happen while

we are around.


This leads to a second important principle—that the results of our ministry are

not in our hands, but in God’s hands. We must not confuse our role in

ministry. God expects us to be faithful to Him and His Word, and that’s our

primary responsibility. But at the end of the day, we can’t bring anyone from

death to life—that is God’s responsibility. We plant and water the seeds, but God

brings the seed to grow. We do our part and remain faithful, and we leave the

results to God. If we have served him faithfully, let’s consider that a success.

If your team doesn’t have a solid understanding of these principles, don’t be

surprised when their unmet expectations about the short-term trip turn into

frustration.



2. Prepare your group spiritually.

The number one frustration we hear from missionaries about their short-term

teams is that they show up for a trip and aren’t ready to share the gospel. We’ve

missed the mark if we do everything required of us to go on a mission trip,

yet show up unprepared to be ambassadors for Christ and proclaimers of

his gospel. As group leaders, we must prepare our team members to be ready

to share the gospel.


There are numerous evangelism techniques and strategies that you could use to

train your group. The important thing is not which strategy you use, but that your

group gains confidence with some type of gospel-sharing technique that is

faithful to God’s Word. There are plenty of resources online that teach some of

these approaches, such as “The Romans Road,” “The Bridge,” “Three Circles,”

etc. Find one that feels like a good fit for your team, and make sure each person

is ready and confident to share the gospel with someone in some way.

One thing to watch out for: many Christians think that if they can articulate their

testimony in some capacity they can share the gospel well, but this is not

necessarily true. Our testimonies can often be long-winded, full of confusing

church language (especially in a foreign context), and lacking Scripture and

biblical truth. By no means is sharing your testimony a bad thing, but we must be

critical of what we are saying and consider how faithfully we are pointing the

recipient to the truth of Christ.


As a group leader, it is your responsibility to make sure everyone on your team is

ready to share the gospel.


3. Set up a prayer network.

Renowned missionary Samuel Zwemer was known as “the Apostle to Islam” and

spent his entire ministry seeking to love and share Christ with Muslims. As the

author of numerous books he left behind many nuggets of wisdom, but one of the

most profound things he said was this: “The history of missions is the history

of answered prayer.” In other words, he recognized that any success he saw in

the mission field had already been ordained by God above. If we believe this is

true, it should drive us to our knees in prayer as we look ahead to our

mission trips.


This starts with the personal prayers of everyone going on the trip, but take it a

step further and think about ways you can connect your whole church to be

prayer partners for your trip. Create prayer cards for each person on your trip and

distribute them to other small groups and individuals in the church. Make sure

that each person has multiple levels of prayer support. Encourage those praying

to find ways to affirm the ones for whom they are praying. How cool would it be

on the morning of the trip if all of those prayer warriors showed up in the church

parking lot to circle around your team members and pray over them before you

head off?


The task of missions belongs to God, and we are dependent on him if we want to

see fruit. Let’s be a people who seek him in prayer, and invite those around us to

do the same.


4. Help your group process their trip experience.

My pastor used to challenge our congregation that if we spent one week a year

ministering in a foreign context, it would radically change the way we live the

other 51 weeks out of the year. Simply put, a mission trip is a formative life

experience for most people. It will open our eyes to the world around us, put

things into perspective for us, and help us see the world how God sees the world

instead of only through our own cultural lenses.


It is not difficult to see that God not only works through team members, but he

also works in team members. Because of this, we need to help our students

make the most of their mission trip experiences. Equip them with resources to

help them process their trip and help them draw near to God through his Word.

There are great resources available to help your students do this. One such

resource is a missions journal available through Servant Life. These daily

devotionals cover the time before, during, and after your trip to help your team

members connect with the Lord as they seek to faithfully serve him.

We know that a lot of hard work goes into a mission trip, but in addition to taking

care of all the urgent details to make the trip happen, let us not neglect these

important steps to help our teammates flourish. We pray that the Lord blesses all

the works of your hands as you seek to make him known near and far.


Reach out today to learn more about how Servant Life can help send your group

onto the mission field.

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