As I sit shotgun in the van on the way home from our Spring Break mission trip to Mexico I just started reflecting on what made this trip so amazing. Yes, the sixteen minute border wait on the way home will make you smile, but did we do right that made our team smile the entire trip? Having been able to do multiple mission trips since being a Christian here are some things that our team has implemented into the trip to make it more successful (maybe one day I will write something on “How not to lead a mission trip” but not this year).
1) Give your team plenty of team before the trip to connect and get prepared
This year we started plenty ahead of time. This allows the students, adult leaders and families in your church who want to come the ability to come. Most people want/need ample lead-time before the trip to get prepared; respect that and plan ahead so that you are prepared. When you are prepared then everyone on the team can be prepared. This will allow you the time to think when the plans need to change and trust me they will.
2) Have clearly defined limitations on your trip
When you know who this trip is aimed to, what people can expect, what kind of work you will be doing and things of that nature it helps you know who this trip is designed for. If you are going to be building a building then you may not want younger kids on the team. Know your sleeping arrangements so that people can know what to expect and what they need to bring. Also if you have a dad who wants to bring his eight-year-old daughter on trip are you prepared for that with the sleeping? These are great things to think through ahead of time.
3) Be clear and intentional at your team meetings
This is where you need to be prepared so that you can communicate what is necessary for the people on your team to know. If the meeting is going to be an hour long be prepared for that, if the meeting is going to be three hours long let your team know that ahead of time.
4) Utilize your leader on the team
This is a great time to read Exodus 18 again. Look at what Jethro says to Moses about the way he is leading. Appoint leaders on your team and let them lead. Teach your leaders to lead, help them lead and let the team know that they are going to lead. This has been one the greatest learning experiences for me. When you can focus your time on helping your leaders and taking care of them, then your leaders can lead; us the resources in them that God has given you.
5) Pray hard
This could probably be the first point but we’re talking about it last. Pray throughout this entire process; pray for God to put the right people on the team. Pray for God to lead your team, stretch them, keep them safe and unite them for a common purpose. When you take the time to seek God in this entire process of following the great commission God will speak to you and lead you in the right path.