Making The Most Of Your Youth Mission Trip
By Neal Benson
As I sit shotgun in the van on the way home from our Spring Break mission trip to Mexico I just started reflecting on what made this trip so amazing. Yes, the 16-minute border wait on the way home will make you smile, but what did we do right that made our team smile the entire trip? Having led multiple mission trips, here are some things that our team has implemented to make our trips more successful (maybe one day I will write something on “How not to lead a mission trip” but not this year).
* Prepare your team.
This year we started plenty ahead of time. This allows the students, adult leaders, and families in your church who want to come to come. Most people want/need ample lead-time before the trip to get prepared; respect that and plan ahead so that you are prepared. When you are prepared then everyone on the team can be prepared. This will allow you the time to adjust when the plans need to change; and trust me they will.
Know your trip.
When you know who this trip will serve, what people can expect, what kind of work you will be doing, and things of that nature, it helps you know who this trip is designed for. For example: If you’re team is going to be building, then you may not want children on the team. Know your sleeping arrangements so that people can know what to expect and what they need to bring. Know where you’re driving because getting lost in a foreign country is not the most enjoyable thing to do. These are practical things to think through ahead of time.
Have intentional meetings.
This is where you need to be prepared so that you can communicate what is necessary for the people on your team to know. If the meeting is going to be an hour long, be prepared for that; if the meeting is going to be three hours long, let your team know that ahead of time. I hate meetings with no purpose or goal.
* Utilize leaders.
This is a great time to read Exodus 18 again. Look at what Jethro says to Moses about the way he is leading. Appoint leaders on your team and let them lead. Teach your leaders to lead, help them lead, and let the team know that they’re going to lead. This has been one the greatest learning experiences for me. Don’t just delegate and go sit on the beach; check in with your leaders and make sure they are feeling cared for and loved on the team.
* Pray hard.
This should be the first point but we’re talking about it last. Pray throughout this entire process; pray for God to put the right people on the team. Pray for God to lead your team, stretch them, keep them safe, and unite them for a common purpose. When you take the time to seek God in this entire process of following the great commission God will speak to you and lead you in the right path.
From: www.simplyyouth.com web site. December 2008