youth worker, youth ministry, keys

3 Keys to Pre-trip Training for Mission Trips

By Doug Franklin April 9, 2018

Summer is almost here and soon we will be leaving on our mission trips. Mission trips are all different, some churches have great experiences while others just survive them. Ever since I started leading LeaderTreks Trips in 1994, I’ve come to believe that pre-trip training is a key to getting the most out of our summer mission trip. When I’m training teams I try to keep three principles in mind:

Sell the Mission

When students are going on a mission trip, I want them to understand how the work or ministry they are doing connects with the goals of the church. I want them to understand that as a Christ follower they have the power to change the world. I believe that when students see how their work is connected to the work of the church, they will see their mission as being bigger than themselves.

For example, when casting the vision for a mission trip to build an orphanage I explained to the students how the construction of one home at this orphanage would allow 8 children at risk to be rescued and placed in a Christian home, raised by a loving and caring Christian mom and dad. I reminded the students that at adulthood, these children would be released into the country to be salt and light for Jesus Christ. As well-trained and educated disciples of Christ, these 8 children would be powerful tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Countless people would hear about the good news of Jesus Christ because a group of high school students were willing to be part of a team that helped rescue children at risk.

“There is nothing worse than being on a mission trip where students don’t want to serve.”

There is nothing worst than being on a mission trip where students don’t want to serve.

When I do a good job of selling the mission, I never have trouble getting students to give it their all. Help them see the big picture of what God is doing by connecting the mission to the work of the church.

Team Building

Many of the students that sign up for missions trips know each other, but that doesn’t mean they trust each other or have any idea of how to work together. Team building games are great for working through these issues. Youth workers have known about team building games for years but what I have noticed is that youth workers don’t know how to get the most out of a team building game.

The problem is most youth workers think team building games are just games, so they set them up to see who will win and who will lose. The truth is, team building games are designed to teach teams about themselves and how they deal with different situations. Start by planning games that will deal with specific problems your team has. Second create goals for each game so you will know what you want to debrief about after the game. This will help you stay focused on using the games for team building.

Share and Prayer

I believe that the greater the communication, the greater the trip. What I mean is that the more communication students have with one another and with God, the better the trip will be. Getting students to share with each other is vital to having a great trip. On every trip I go on, I do every team meeting in a circle. It doesn’t matter if it’s an hour long meeting or a quick 30 second one. This gives them a sense of safety and develops a willingness for them to share.

Make prayer part of your training. Have students pray for the people at the site, the host partners and others involved with the ministry you will be serving with. Also develop a plan for students to be praying for their teammates. Place them in prayer partnerships and have them pray together. Have adults in the church sign-up to be prayer partners with the students. Have a special dinner just for prayer partners. Give them the inside scoop so they can pray effectively for the students. Use your pre-trip training to teach students about the effectiveness of prayer.

Pre-trip training can make the difference between a good trip and a great one. And if you’re interested in a Free Pre-trip Training Devotional for your team, download the resource below.


Learn more about this free resource:

At LeaderTreks we LOVE mission trips. We’ve been leading LeaderTreks Trips since 1994, and we’ve learned a couple of things along the way. We’ve learned to avoid these mission trip mistakes. We’ve learned what NOT to forget to pack. And we’ve learned the value of Pre-Trip Training.

Before he returned to his Father in heaven, Jesus gave his followers one last command: to spread the good news of his death and resurrection to the whole world. If we truly understand the joy of following Jesus, we are quick to set aside our own desires in favor of our mission to care for the least. This Pre-Trip Devotional is a great resource for pre-trip training for your mission team. The goal of this lesson is to help students understand the difference between living out their own preferences and living out of God’s purposes.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More