Where Should You Go on Your Mission Trip?

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So you’ve decided to go on a mission trip! This is an exciting time of gathering ideas and interest from your students, but it can be overwhelming when you have the entire world to choose from. While this decision should be made with input from your church and students, as well as a tremendous amount of prayer, we think there are some questions that can help you narrow down what’s possible for your group. These four questions can help you narrow down where in the world you should go on a mission trip, but don’t be afraid to speak with a reputable mission trip organization for more input!

1. How far will you go?

For every group, there are some practical limitations to consider. This question can help you narrow in on a location or region. There are a few factors that go into answering this question including budget, time constraints, and desire to engage with language and cultural barriers. Generally speaking, the further you go, the more apparent some of these things may be, but none of these are insurmountable barriers! If you feel led to serve far beyond your borders, just know it’s going to take a little more time to plan.

2. What are your hopes for your trip?

There are a variety of mission trip opportunities that all offer unique value, both for your students and the community you are serving in. Taking stock of what you hope to do on the trip can narrow down some locations. If your group is handy and ready to jump into construction projects, hurricane relief mission trips or other construction-based trips are an incredible way to use and develop your skills. Not as prepared for physical labor? Urban mission trips provide great opportunities for relational ministry that can be incredibly impactful for everyone involved.

Are you hoping to engage in what’s happening in the headlines? Or embrace struggles happening in quiet corners of the world? There’s value in both, but we encourage you to look into options beyond what’s in front of your face. There’s value in returning to a community on the long-term path to restoration and there’s beauty in showing up in the wake of disaster. Reflection on what this should look like for your group can steer your decision in a healthy direction.

3. What do you hope your students take away?

Every mission trip should first and foremost be a positive experience for the host community, but the reality is, mission trips are also an incredible way to grow spiritually and develop leaders among your youth. So, knowing your students and what you hope they gain from an experience can provide helpful direction for your trip as well. Students often walk away from trips with a greater understanding and appreciation for new people and cultures, greater leadership abilities, and a deeper faith in the God who created and watches over all of us. While these can be fostered during in a variety of serving experiences, consider how exactly you hope your students will grow and make sure your mission trip selection will allow those experiences to take shape.

4. What happens after the trip is over?

No matter where you choose to go, consider the impact your trip can have on the big picture, rather than just focusing on what your team might accomplish alone in the short span of a week. Partnering with a community or organization over a longer period of time or going somewhere where long-term relationships are already in place will allow you to get the most out of your experience. If you’re feeling called to help in the wake of natural disasters, pray about your options and consider looking beyond what’s currently in the headlines. Places like Texas or Puerto Rico, where disaster struck a year or so back, are still in terrible need and are already almost completely forgotten. Rebuilding after disasters often takes years, even if we only hear about the efforts for a matter of months.

Need help figuring out where to serve in 2019? Speak with a mission trip support representative from Experience Mission today. Call 888-475-6414 ext. 1 or fill out a mission trip interest form.

How to Engage Social Media on Your Mission Trip

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Thousands of people embark on short-term mission trips around the world every year. And, along with mission trips, come the inevitable social media posts about the trips. You know the ones I’m talking about—dramatic before and after photos of construction projects, selfies with children in tattered clothes, and intimate glimpses into broken situations around the world. Unfortunately, these posts often send the wrong message about the heart behind the trip. Surely there was more depth to the experience than what these posts seem to convey!

As we seek to follow Jesus into a life of service to others, the life we’re called to is contrary to the self-promotional “default mode” of social media. To serve and dignify the people we engage with means humbling ourselves and going beyond the “hero” mindset. The first step is to be intentional in the stories we tell.

1. Tell The Whole Story

When posting on social media during a mission trip, it can be tempting to only share what we ourselves are doing. But, it’s important to be intentional about how we position ourselves in the story. Instead of just sharing about the food we distributed or the building we painted, let’s talk about the big picture, like the ongoing work our ministry partners accomplish day in and day out. This way, we remove the spotlight from ourselves and celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to serving in their community.

2. Connect With Local People

We often have a false picture that people in developing communities don’t have access to technology. In reality, most of the people we encounter have a Facebook page as well as other social media platforms. Let’s leverage this opportunity to build deeper connections with local people or stay in touch after the trip. Talk about local people in the way you would talk about a friend. Don’t exaggerate or diminish the work they are doing in life, but seek to frame them in the best possible light.

3. Be Fully Present

It’s tempting to hide behind a screen. We want to remember the connections we made and share our experiences with friends and family, especially those who supported our trip. But this mentality often holds us back from being fully present and could unintentionally send the wrong message to local people. It’s important to remember we are guests in someone else’s home. Let’s get to know local people, see what their community actually has to offer, and take photos only sparingly. We might miss out on a few photo opportunities, but we’ll experience a whole new depth to our encounters and might actually forge lasting, meaningful relationships.

4. Remember the Mission

With everything we do, we want to keep the mission of our trip at the center. We go to humbly serve, to learn from others, to dignify them, and to empower local ministries. It would be incredibly sad if we let social media hinder these goals. It can be tempting to exaggerate the work we do through photos, videos, and stories aimed at pleasing donors or seeming impressive to friends and church members, but ultimately we have the opportunity to engage in a really important conversation about the way we are called to serve others. Which involves caring first and foremost about the people right in front of us, their dignity, and the hope and love we’re striving to share.

Excited to serve in 2019? Join Experience Mission in one of 25 communities on a short-term mission trip! Fill out an interest form today to find the right fit for you and your youth group.