So you’re using your precious vacation time to serve others on a short-term mission trip this summer? That’s wonderful! We hope you have an amazing experience, one that teaches you more about yourself, God and this world he’s created. In fact, we hope you get bit by the missions bug (but that you DON’T get bit by any exotic, poisonous bugs). You can take steps before, during and after your trip to prepare your heart for all God has in store, and then to process all that he did in you and through you. Let’s start at the very beginning …
Before you go
True, there are LOTS of logistics to take care of before you board the plane. (You’ll need tickets for that plane, for one thing. Oh, and don’t forget to set up your GOJOURNAL.) But beyond the to-do list, there also are ideas to consider, deep thoughts to discuss that can help you take a position of humble service as you enter a cross-cultural ministry situation.
- Two questions to ask before a short-term trip — A solid answer to “why go” builds the foundation for ministry with eternal results. (article)
- 5 Best Practices to Manage Risk in Short-Term Missions — A risk management and insurance expert outlines common risks involved in short-term missions and shares best practices that can help churches, mission agencies, and teams manage risk. (45-minute podcast episode)
- How to do Short-Term Missions with Excellence – Part 1 — ‘God centeredness’ and ‘empowering partnerships’ are key elements of a trip. (35-minute podcast episode)
- Short Term Mission Trip or Voluntourism? — What’s the difference? Motivation. (3-minute video)
During your trip
Every short-term ministry is unique, but everyone who goes (hopefully) has a few things in common: You want your words and actions to take culture into account, and you need prayer support.
- Six tips for short-term trips — Strategies that can help visitors observe without offending. (article)
- Inoffensive foreigners — These three simple rules can help visitors to a different country communicate truthfully, but tactfully. Especially key in the era of social media! (article)
- Global Missions Podcast “Social Media and Short-term Missions” — The practical steps one church took to boost prayer for its short-term trips. (30-minute podcast episode)
After your trip
You made it home and now you just want to take a long shower and sleeeeeeep? Well, go ahead and do that, but don’t think that your experience is over! You’ve seen, felt and done a lot in the past couple of weeks, and now it’s time to mull it all over, to think deeply through what you learned and to see how God might be changing you as a result of your trip. Let the debriefing commence!
- 7 things to do after a missions trip — Have a party, make amends, say thanks — and four other great ideas. (article)
- Debriefing questions — Maybe you’re a trip leader who wants to guide your team through a useful debrief, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Or you’re just back from a trip, but it was such a wild experience that you don’t know how to talk about it. Here are lots and lots of ideas to get the conversation flowing. (PDF)
- Short-term debrief & hand off — A thorough debrief isn’t a one-and-done conversation. Excellent debriefing starts on the field and includes several conversations once you’re back home. (article)
- Three Questions to Ask after a Short-term Missions Trip — What did you learn about God and about yourself? And what does that mean for your life? (4-minute video)
Banner photo by Hania Szymczak, who grew up in a SEND missionary family in Poland. She took this photo on a short-term trip to India, where she served alongside a national missionary. “Most of the people I met in the slums had neither smartphones nor cameras and seemed to prize their few physical photos (mostly from special occasions) quite highly,” she said. “So, capturing smiles on camera became one of my personal projects, and when I left, I printed out some physical prints for the families as a thank you to them for sharing their language, food, and culture, and opening their homes to me, a Christian and a foreigner.”