mission trip planning 101

Mission Trip Planning 101 (Part 2)

By Andy Lawrenson March 8, 2019

It’s nearly spring and before I know it our summer mission trip will be here. Last summer we even added college students into the mix! In addition to our student trips I also plan on taking teams of adults on mission trips this year. So here we are less than 6 months out from our trip and mission trip planning is in full swing. 

Maybe you’re preparing for a LeaderTreks Trip, or maybe you’re partnering with an organization through your church. Regardless, you’ve likely found yourself in the same boat, staring at the final push and punch list.

I’m a checklist kind of guy, it keeps me organized. Maybe you are too. In any case, here are my thoughts on important mission trip planning deadlines and how to stay on schedule:

Travel Plans

By early spring it’s good to have your travel plans lined up.  Vans or buses are reserved, airline tickets are booked, etc. We’ve found a good mission travel agent that takes care of booking our group airline tickets for us.  Using a travel agent can save you a lot of time and if you aren’t used to handling group airline contracts yourself it’s wise to use the pros.


Set a deadline for passport application. Normally, as of late, the turnaround for passport applications have been about four to six weeks, while expedited can get the passport in three weeks, this is not something you want to wait until the last minute to do. As soon as possible we want our team members to have their passport applications sent in for processing.  

Support Letters

We are asking our team to have their support letters all sent out three full months before our trip. These letters should include the deadline for the support to be raised, the dollar amount needed and an invitation to join the personal prayer team. The support letter consists of a paragraph describing the mission trip, what the team member hopes will happen in their own heart on the trip as well as information on how checks or online giving should be handled. We have raised more support through letters than through fundraisers (and I don’t have to wash any cars or cook spaghetti for a hundred.)

Regular Communication

A HUGE part of the mission trip planning process is keeping parents and students well informed and communicating on a regular basis will help ease some frustration both on your end and the part of the parents.  If you are going to work with a mission organization or church it’s wise to have regular communication with them as well. Regular and clear communication with your host can help build a great relationship with them, and help avoid miscommunication on trip.


If you plan to do fundraisers having them scheduled and planned out well in advance is a good idea.  Make sure to have the ground rules spelled out about how the funds will be divided among the team. For example: do you have to serve at the fundraiser in order to benefit from the fundraiser?  Communicate this clearly to both the team and the parents.

Final Team/Parent Meeting

At our final team meeting we ask our students to bring at least one parent. During this meeting we cover everything from the moment we pull out of the church parking lot to the moment we return home. We review the daily schedules, collect medical releases, and discuss any other information the parents may need to know. The trip’s mission supplies are also divided up so that each team member is able to pack some gear/supplies in their luggage.

My hope and prayer is that your mission trip this year with your students will challenge them to grow deeper in their faith and open their eyes to what God can do with their lives.  Mission trips are such a great way to grow unity and relationships among your students, staff, and adult volunteers.

Looking for more tips? Check out Mission Trip Planning 101 (Part 1)

Still need help with your mission trip planning process?

Check out our Mission Trip Prep Kit!

youth ministry, student ministry, mission trip preparation

About the Author

Andy Lawrenson

Andy Lawrenson has been in student ministry for 26 years both as a volunteer and paid staff member.  Andy and his wife, Misha, have been married for 28 years and have three children: a son in middle school and twin eight-year-olds, a boy and girl. Andy loves getting together with other youth pastors to talk about…  Read More