If I have learned anything after going on mission trips for the past forty years and leading numerous trips across the world it is this: Preparation is Extremely Important. Every time I’ve gone a trip where the team was well prepared we have had amazing God experiences. Occasionally I’ve been on trips where we were not well prepared. Usually these trips have been more challenging and less effective than they should have been. Out of these experiences, the good and the not as good, comes this manual for you.
Section 1 is a logistics guide for you. It is divided into 3 parts that could be used as the content of 3 preparation meetings for a mission trip. Each part addresses different aspects of a mission trip. Part one covers the basics: where, when, what. Part two goes into more depth on specific ministry work and preparation. More meetings may be required for subgroups of the team if you are teaching or need to plan more in depth. The third part is mainly for those going to other countries or at least vastly different cultures.
This section can be used by church leaders as an outline for preparation meetings. It can also be used by an individual to have a list of questions to answer before you get on a plane to go on mission.
Section 2 is a devotional section to prepare you spiritually for your mission experience. When you go on a mission trip you are entering enemy territory. You are invading the dominion of Satan with the gospel and you need to expect opposition. You must be spiritually prepared. You may be thinking: “All we are doing is helping in hurricane recovery” or “We aren’t doing anything real spiritual.” You are coming as the hands and feet of Jesus to show the love of Christ to those who need the message of the gospel. If you open your eyes, ears, and heart you will see opportunities to share the gospel. You must be spiritually prepared.
Section 3 is a journal section. I encourage you to keep a daily record of your trip. Think about the things you see and do. Consider how God has been active each day. By recording each day you become more aware of how God is working and it increases your appreciation for how he uses His people to accomplish His tasks.
Mission trips are some of the greatest experiences in the Christian life. Quite often a short term trip leads to a long term mission stay. Short term trips always have an impact on those who go as well as those to whom you go. My prayer for you is that God would use you to change the world – both the world to which you go and the world in which you live today. I believe in the power of a mission trip to change lives.
I’ll leave you with one last thing. Every group I take on mission hears two important verses that aren’t in the Bible. One of these I appropriated and renamed from my first youth minister, Jim Shelby: “Remember who you are and who you represent” – Steve 3:5. The second I picked up through experience: “Be flexible” – Steve 4:6.
May God make you a blessing as you serve Him. May He multiply your numbers until the whole world has heard: “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 3:5).”