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Key Considerations When Selecting a Mission Trip

Before choosing a short-term mission trip, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions to help select the right trip. Here’s how to break down these questions into some broad categories. 

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Purpose: Why are you going? What is your motivation?
  • Practice: What type of experience are you looking for? (discipleship, cross-cultural exposure, ministry experience, other)
  • Difficulty: Which level of cross-cultural experience is right for you?

Enlist the help of a
pastor, mentor, or friend
with missions experience
to help think through
your answers.

What to Look for in a Mission Agency

  • Fit: Do they have programs that match your interest and experience?
  • Experience: Do they have experienced mature leaders onsite? Does their communication with you show signs of quality and professionalism?
  • Preparedness: Have they thought things through? (Expect some flexibility but also thorough planning). Do they have emergency management procedures in place?
  • Comprehensiveness: Do they provide adequate training to prepare you? Do they help you process the trip with debriefing?
  • Dependability: Have other groups or individuals found that they practice what they claim? What do prior participants say? Does the sending organization practice The Seven Standards of Excellence as set forth by MissionExcellence?
  • Emotionally Healthy: Can I expect times of resting, building community, being discipled and supported? Will there be an emotionally healthy environment provided by those who I serve with?

What to Look for in a Mission Trip

  • Long-term plan: Does it fit into a broader long-term plan for the area in which you’ll be ministering? How does it match with local churches and career mission work in the area?
  • Great Commission focus: How does what you will be doing contribute to accomplishing the Great Commission? Is there an evangelism/outreach element even if it’s mainly a construction trip?

Questions to consider if you’re taking your family.

Many people desire to share a mission trip experience with their family. In fact, while it can be a challenge to take your family on a mission trip, serving together can not only build great memories but help your family find ways they can serve God as a team.

A word of warning; however, consider your motives — while mission trips can be life-changing experiences, we do not recommend dragging along a “rebellious” child or family member you hope to “fix.” Often, this creates problems for you and your host.

That being said, a mission trip can build a lifelong availability and heart for serving and growing in faith. Not to mention it can build your family unity in positive ways.

Calling: Do other family members sense a call to this as well (mature enough to discern the will of God)?

Participation: Does the nature of the mission trip allow your children to participate? If not, to what extent could you still participate if you need to provide care for your child?

Age Appropriate: Should you join an intergenerational team or look for an opportunity that could be designed specifically for your family?

Travel Wisdom: Who has experience traveling with their children and can help me anticipate what it would be like to travel with my family?

Preparation: How can your family prepare for this mission trip? For example, can you practice eating certain foods? Adjusting to colder or warmer temperatures? Go without certain creature comforts like showers, hot water and so on.

Discerning God’s will.

As you consider a mission trip and have asked all the good questions, remember that your top consideration should be God, His glory and His will for you. While the questions above are a good guide, they should not replace the Holy Spirit.

Part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to bring about unity. Be careful not to use the Holy Spirit as a trump card when you don’t get your way. Submit to your leaders for they are held to account by God Himself. Rather than resist, lean in and invite your leaders into your discerning process.

As you pray and seek the Lord, you may find some doors open but other doors close. Be discerning as to whether God is redirecting you or if the Devil is trying to keep you from obeying the Lord. Trust God, submit to His ways and you can be confident that God will be pleased with your servant’s heart.

Written by MissionGuide Staff

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