Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Leading a Mission Trip

Prepare and Pray

You have no doubt heard stories of lives changed on a mission trip. Many return from a mission experience to give reports on Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings in Arkansas churches. Common stories include children being ministered to and saved in backyard Bible Clubs or Mission Vacation Bible Schools, churches being built, lives, homes and churches ravished by relentless hurricanes brought to restoration, people reached through door to door medical projects, medical teams offering a healing touch while seeking to introduce the sick to Jesus the Healer of souls, and the list could go on.
While people come home from a mission trip blessed by the opportunity to serve, there have been those who return frustrated because it did not turn out the way they expected. What is the difference in the two groups? Could it be expectations, prayer and planning? Not all mission trips may see a harvest of souls, but all mission trips can fit into the strategic plan of a church, church planter or missionary to make a difference in a community and the Kingdom of God. You have been empowered to change lives. Jesus tells us that we have been “empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses….”
Planning is an absolute essential in maximizing your M.I.S.S.I.O.N. trip while minimizing problems. There is nothing more uncomfortable than showing up on the field to find there is a misunderstanding of the project or how your group is going to accomplish the task. Good planning begins with scheduling a trip that fits you and your group. “Flexibility” is a word you hear tossed around on mission trips. While flexibility is important, it is not a substitute for good planning. Here are some practical considerations for choosing a M.I.S.S.I.O.N. trip that fits you and your church:
M - Make prayer a priority. The church and your team members need to see that you are trusting God with everything from the big picture to the smallest details. Prayer is the vital link, from knowing where God might send your team, to how best to communicate your report when you get home. There are needs on the field to pray for: relationships with the team and field, ministry and outreach opportunities in the community, physical, spiritual and relational needs of the team members, potential conflict and resolution, etc.
Prayer is critical for preparing a volunteer spiritually. Regardless of the type of trip one takes, the sole purpose is to point someone to Jesus Christ. A daily attitude of prayer is essential for sensing the Holy Spirit’s prompting in when and how to share with others.
I – Identify a mission project. Going to the ends of the earth covers a lot of territory. How can one know where God wants your church to be involved? Where does God want you to go and with whom? Will your project be local, associational, in state, national or international? What kind of project will it be: Prayer walking, medical, evangelistic, leadership training, construction, remodeling, sports-evangelism, VBS, Scripture distribution? It is important to know who you are working with. You are depending on their planning and preparation for your mission trip to succeed. And remeber your project is LED by them and to meet their CULture and standards. Too often we try and force our American ways on our hosts - because we know we are better. And nothing could be farther from the truth or cause more issues. Serve and surrender as Jesus did.

S – Set a plan in place. The team leader must develop a timeline to accomplish the tasks for the trip. Begin with your departure date and work backwards. Just some things to consider:

• Total cost of the trip per team member

• Mode of transportation

• Lodging

• Recruiting for the trip

• Passport applications

• VISA applications

• Proper immunizations

• Material for projects

• Team orientation and team training

• Significant non-refundable deposit (required)

• Set date for payment of trip• Adequate insurance coverage

• Hold commissioning service• Report to church after trip

Plan your mission. Look at your schedule, when can you and your church go? What would be the best time to fit into the mission’s field strategy? A team leader will want to check the calendar at home and on the field to determine how the potential date might conflict with a national holiday, vacation season, spring break, community festival, major sporting event, etc. This has happened to groups before.
S - Select your team. Everyone going on a mission trip desires to go, serve and make a difference, right? Not always. One’s expectations matter and a servant’s heart is key to having a great volunteer. This is why it is important to have all potential volunteers fill out a volunteer participant application form. These forms give the missions committee and/or team leader insight into the desires of those wanting to go on the trip. Mission trips can be great fun, but they are a lot of work. It only takes one bad apple…. You know how the rest of that goes. It is easier dealing with the bad apple before you go than when you are far from home.
I – Invite others to invest in the trip. Each team member going should have five to fifteen prayer partners while they are on the mission field. The partners should certainly pray for his or her family while they are absent as well. Give your pastor specific ways he can pray for you while you are gone. Find someone who has great internet skills to post pictures and send emails if possible. Someone who is physically unable to go may want to help part of your team financially. Write letters and do in person presentations. You will need to write on average 30 letters to raise $1000 letters. 30 letters will equal 20 donations with an average donation of $50.
O - Outline the necessities for the trip. If you are traveling internationally, allow plenty of time to obtain a passport. There are VISA requirements for entering some countries, while others only require passports. Shots are required for entry into some countries as well. You should check with your physician concerning your immunizations well before time to leave. Everyone traveling overseas must understand the importance of carrying their own luggage. Some airports have no escalators and there are not always people available to carry what you will not be able to. Also, all airlines have weight restrictions on suitcases, and luggage space is still a premium for groups traveling stateside. Packing lists help people understand the limitations and expectations.
N – Nurture the relationship with the community, pastor, missionary and field through Christ. Remember your team is there as an extension of the field ministry and you not only represent Christ, but the church, missionary or church planter to that community. There are times that the leadership on the mission field may not do things exactly the way you would do them at home. Teams need to have a nurturing relationship with one another even though they may have different personalities and styles of ministry. Be careful not to become critical of the leadership or of the mission setting. This plays right into the hands of Satan.
God has empowered us to go to all nations. As you and your church reach out to the ends of the earth and to different points in between, you will not only change lives on the field, but you will bring people back who are changed. And with all the planning you still need to be flexible - something will always NOT go as planned. If you build team togetherness before the trip they should respond well to whatever problems arise. BE FLEXIBLE and BE WELL PREPARED.
George "Boake" Moorefounded a church coffee called Mission Grounds Gourmet Coffee. A non profit gourmet coffee to help children. CEOMission Grounds

Found - HERE

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