5 Tips for a Successful Short-Term Mission Trip
So you’re going on a short-term mission trip? As spring and summer approach, the number of trips taken by church groups, college students, and others (both on U.S. and international soil) increases exponentially.
Although some debate the merits of short-term missions service, I believe it can have a positive impact on all sides of the missions equation. From our family’s experience (close to 60 trips in all), I offer a few tips for a successful short-term mission trip:
- Know your sending organization: Don’t choose a trip or sending organization at random for either yourself or your teen. How much missions experience does the organization have? Where have they ministered? What are their procedures for medical or political emergency? If you’re traveling with a church group, make sure the leadership has appropriate experience and in-country contacts.
- Know the purpose of the trip: Is it Gospel-centered? This focus will give your trip maximum eternal value. Even if the team does construction or meets medical needs, you’ll want to make sure the work includes a culturally sensitive evangelistic element. Physical needs matter, but spiritual needs matter more.
- Remember it’s not about you: When my husband leads mission trips, he tells participants they have freedom to tell him one thing they don’t like. One thing, and no more. This helps keep the focus off “I don’t like the food!” and on the trip’s true priorities.
- Engage the culture: I learned this tip from Walker Moore, president of Awe Star Ministries. No matter where your trip takes you, work to interact with the people you find there. Don’t speak the language? Sing, dance, hold babies, play with children. Where possible, join the nationals in work or play. You’ll find people more willing to hear your message if you show them they matter. Because they do.
- Watch for God’s work: Remember that God intends to use you. For the past five summers, I’ve traveled as the writer for Never the Same Missions on their student missions adventures to South and Central America. On each trip, I’ve encouraged the students to watch for the story God is writing through them. And when you seek the Father, you find Him—every time.
Pray through this list and incorporate the ideas into your next missionary journey. And when God calls you, may you say with the prophet Isaiah, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)