Okay, okay. I know what you’re thinking.
Wait. Mission trip to do list? This would have been great to have in May.
While it’s true this year’s mission trip season is in the rearview mirror, I’m here to tell you (beg you, implore you) there are just a few more things to do in order to make this year’s trips leave a lasting impression as well as prepare for even better mission trip experiences next summer.
In fact, the most important mission work you do is, arguably, right now, right here, from the comfort of your own hometown.
Your students have just had a life-changing, heart-shaping experience. They have likely seen a side of the world they never knew existed. They have felt the love of Jesus like never before. They have seen the power of the fruits of the Spirit. They want to continue making a difference in the world… but how? It was so much easier when the need was staring them in the face.
Don’t miss the opportunity to leverage this momentum.
Don’t let the fire sizzle.
Stop what you’re working on for the Fall and first take these three important steps to ensure this summer’s mission trips leave a lifelong impression.
1. Give parents a resource to help them process the experience with their kids.
You just spent anywhere from 48-240 consecutive hours with these students. Now you will be lucky to have 40 hours with them for the rest of the year. Their parents, however, will be with them every day. If parents weren’t part of the mission trip experience, help your students bridge the gap by giving parents talking points and questions to ask to help their student process. Allow parents to be part of the post-trip experience.
2. Follow up with surveys.
Yes, plural. There are four different groups you need to check in with post-mission trip:
The leaders you served with
The group you served
The parents or family back home
The students who went on the trip
Ask for overall feedback as well as specific critiques and favorite moments in order to create an even better mission trip experience for next year.
3. Give your students an opportunity to share.
Something happens when a 13-year-old stands up in front of people and talks about what they saw God doing in the world… people listen. The truth is, the students in your ministry have more influence than you do. And they will be speaking to an audience who wants to hear what they missed out on and why they should go on a similar trip next year. The key is teaching your students HOW to share about their experience. Instead of glorifying the trip (“the food was amazing and the hotel… O.M.G!), magnify what God is doing in the world (“when I saw their place of worship it blew my mind that people completely different from me in every other sense were worshipping our same big God”).
We know, you’re tired. You thought your mission trip work ended when every kid made it home safely. But we know the power of finishing well. Make sure this year’s trip(s) are unforgettable.
And look out for next week’s blog on how to do the work now (while the trips are fresh) to make next year’s missions even better.