Top 3 Mission Trip Essentials

By Doug Franklin June 24, 2015

Many of you have asked me to go deeper into what makes a good student mission trip. What must every trip provide to students? We’ve been leading LeaderTreks Trips since 1994, and here are the top three mission trip essentials, in no particular order.

1) Spiritual preparation

During most pre-trip meetings for student mission trips, we discuss all kinds of issues, big and small. We cover logistics, safety instructions, and perhaps even a few key phrases in another language. But little time is spent on the purpose of the mission. God made mission a key part a believer’s life. Many students don’t understand why God has called them on a mission or how to live out that mission on their trip.

We need to let students know God’s purpose and their part in it. This will help them to see that mission trips are more than just weeklong summer distractions. They are power-packed opportunists to see God at work. God doesn’t need our students or us—but he does invite us to come and see his mighty work!

2) Student focus

We like to think that this year’s trip will change the world, but the truth is, it probably won’t. Still, it could change the world of your students. Student mission trips are about the students. Trips allow them to see God at work, and they give students an opportunity to discover their strengths and gifts. There is nothing like a mission trip to show students that God is real.

“There is nothing like a mission trip to show students that God is real.”

So plan for impact. Spend some of your time on the trip letting students study God’s Word. Teach them about prayer. Give them time to process and debrief each day, and give them tools to think and dream. Some of the commitments they make on a trip will last a lifetime.

Still not convinced? Think back to last year’s trip. After they were back home, did any students say, “I went on the trip to serve others, but in the end I was the one who grew?” This might be a clue to the deeper potential of student mission trips.

3) Debriefing

After most student mission trips, the youth worker takes a two-week vacation. Just when God is at work in students’ lives, the youth ministry takes a month off. This drives me nuts. Immediately after the trip is the perfect time to start working with students, processing through the experience and helping them make decisions about their future. Unless we debrief the experience, students will never be able to apply the lessons they learned on the trip in their everyday lives. It will remain a once-in-a-lifetime experience, instead of a life-changing trip that leads to transformation.

Need a resource to help your students debrief their mission trip? REENTRY: From Your Mission Trip to Life Back Home will help students live every day as if they were on a mission trip.

CC Image courtesy Terminals & Gates on Flickr.

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