Tips for Planning and Organizing a Church Missions Trip
I still remember my first mission trip. There were rays of sunshine beaming in between the parting clouds, as if God was smiling at me for taking this journey in His name. We passed snow-capped mountains that were reaching upwards toward the heavens, and we kicked off our shoes and walked in the sand at the edge of the ocean.
We witnessed tears streaming down people’s faces as they felt His love for the first time and experienced all we were doing to help them. We saw His glory in all of His creation around us as we marveled at the beauty and majesty of this world we live in.
The real magic of our mission trip was knowing that we had shared His love with the people of this world. We provided them with meals, we helped build them houses that would shelter them from storms, and we did all of these things with love – while helping them find His grace. Helping other people find God’s love – that’s the real beauty of any church mission trip.
Whether this is your first mission trip or your fifth, whether you’re traveling to the next state over or to the other side of the planet, whether you’re staying for a week or a year, Christ Central Ministries has a few basic pieces of advice for planning and organizing a successful trip.
Get in the Right Mindset
The focus of a mission trip isn’t the travel. It’s not about pointing to a spot on a globe and deciding where to go. It’s about spreading His love and creating new disciples. Lifeway notes that you must prepare spiritually for a mission trip in order to open your mind and heart to the work God will be doing through you on this journey. Just like you’d never blindly choose a hotel without at least glancing at the reviews, you can’t enter a new location totally blind to what is around you.
Pray for the people and places you will visit, but make it specific by researching the prayers and needs of the people you will encounter. In addition to prayer, ask a pastor or mentor for a Bible verse to carry with you, and take joy in the “aha moment” you experience when you finally understand why the verse was chosen and pertains to your mission.
You should budget carefully for a mission trip – and MSC points out that it’s best to start budgeting in the very early stages of your planning process. This makes it easier to do fundraising and gather the money required to spread our teachings to the world.
It’s generally a good idea to establish a nonprofit corporation to handle the gathering and distribution of funds raised for the trip. Many nonprofits and mission-based organizations make use of CRM software to build a personalized donation page to gather online donations in addition to their word-of-mouth efforts. The biggest benefit is that CRM software simplifies data management and can be integrated into other systems such as communications, crowdfunding, and event planning.
Another great fundraising option is an online fundraising page, which allows you to tell others about the details of your mission trip and how you will be positively impacting the lives of others through the word of God. To take your fundraising efforts further, hold a bake sale or car wash to benefit your community and use your event as a platform to educate others about your mission and raise donations.
Choosing a Location
Countries like Mexico, Kenya, and Uganda used to rank highest in popularity for mission trips for many years. However, due to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis in recent years, Haiti and Japan have become more popular as destination choices for mission trips. Above all else, choose a destination that will make you feel more connected to God while giving you the ability to spread His love.
If you are having a hard time picking a location, start by researching locations that have a current or ongoing need. Tap into your own personal connections, as well as that of others, to find ministry leaders and organizations worldwide that would gladly welcome your assistance.
Another important piece to consider is the budget. Many mission trips require airfare, and if you can’t find cheap flights, you might have to come up with a Plan B. As mentioned earlier, this is why fundraising is so important in the early stages of the mission-trip planning process regardless of whether you will be flying across the globe or driving across town.
When planning any mission trip, Faith Ventures suggests also considering how to keep your group safe while traveling. You’ll be evermore reliant on your cell phone and other smart devices for communication and apps like GPS, so don’t forget to pack a charger and charger adapters to keep your electronics powered up. The last thing you want is for you and your group to have an emergency and have no way to get hold of the authorities or family back home.
If you’re traveling abroad, remember that some countries have laws that are much different than here in America. If you’re traveling with teens and youths, you’ll want to take precautions to limit their exposure to drug and alcohol use. Remind them that the purpose of this trip is to spread His word. We are blessed to be able to experience the culture of another country, but we must do so without experimenting with drugs or alcohol, which could lead to the dangers of drug abuse and addiction.
Planning and organizing a church mission trip takes time, planning, and proper fundraising. Although it’s not for everyone, if you take the time to properly plan your mission trip, you will return home with a greater connection to God – and the knowledge that you’ve helped make a difference in the lives of others.
Christ Central Ministries seeks to energize churches, schools, businesses, individuals, and government to work together to develop effective leaders, multiply resources, and focus those resources on the most serious problems. Call (803) 600-5803.