1. Planning and preparation
It takes countless people and a surprising amount of work and time to get ready for a mission trip. The organization or group setting up the trip plans the whole itinerary down to the last detail, both from the office and in-country beforehand, then must be flexible if things change at the last second..and they usually do. The team and leaders going on the trip have to prepare as individuals and as a group. Practical logistics have to be taken care of and the group needs to be spiritually prepared for the mission field.
2. Relationship with contacts
It is crucial to have a good relationship with the local contacts in the location you travel to, whether that is with members of the sending organization, leaders of the team or both. In-country contacts are the eyes and ears on site when the organization is not there. They are the ones who know the culture and area and have understanding that you as a visitor do not. Without contacts to partner with in a country, ministry would fizzle out and there would be no follow-up after the team leaves for locals who decide to follow Jesus!
It is a necessary part of sending teams out into the world to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Most people dread this part of a mission trip but it doesn’t have to suck! In fact, it can be an amazing conversation-starter that helps you tell people about the Gospel and what God is doing in your life! Having team members raise their own support to provide for the trip allows countless people from all different backgrounds to be a part of the ministry even if they don’t have the opportunity to go.
Prayer is one of the foundational elements of life as a follower of Christ and is important in everything we do. Missions are no exception! It is common to experience a lot of resistance when serving in another country, especially when you are actively preaching the Gospel and sharing the love of Christ. Always keep ministry, team members, and contacts covered in prayer. Have as many people as possible praying for your ministry from home too!
5. Team unity
A disjointed team cannot be successful in the purpose of a mission trip. Most of their energy and time has to be focused inward to deal with issues in the team when it needs to be pointed outward with the purpose of of sharing the Gospel with the lost and being a blessing to other believers. When individuals on a team are constantly blessing each other, they will have more energy, joy, and encouragement to minister to others.
One of the roles of mission organizations is to be familiar with safety concerns in the areas to which teams are traveling and to be reasonably prepared for risks. There is automatically some risk involved when you go on a mission trip. By preparing yourself and following leaders’ and contacts’ instructions, you can minimize that risk as much as possible.
7. Meaningful ministry matched to the team’s gifts
Ministry that presents Jesus to people and uses the abilities of team members well is the most effective kind. People will give more of their energy and enjoy work more when they can do it well and can see that it has a clear purpose that meets a need.
8. Proclamation of the Gospel
Don’t forget that whole purpose of the Great Commission is to go out into all of the world and share the Good News with all people! Everything else is irrelevant without that component. If you know the saving grace of Jesus and the love of God, how can you help but tell others? It can take the form of preaching to a crowd, talking with people individually, drama presentations, or any number of ways. The most important thing is that people hear the Gospel.
9. Follow up in-country
Accepting the Gospel is the beginning of the journey, not the end. Once people hear the message, repent from sin, and decide to follow Christ, they need a church and leaders to guide them as they continue to follow Christ and reach out to others. Partnering with churches in ministry provides a community to connect new believers with after the team leaves so that they can continue in discipleship.
10. Team debrief
It is immensely important for the team members and leaders to process what happened on the trip after it ends. This is often best done by talking through thoughts with others who were there and who can empathize. A lot of people supplement that with writing down their thoughts and stories as well. Debrief is also really helpful for team members to learn how to tell their stories well and effectively share about the trip with their supporters and friends.