As school leaders, we know that students learn a lot of information throughout the school year and need an outlet to demonstrate all they have gleaned. Mission trips are an incredible way to take students out of the comfort zone of the classroom and into a concentrated, ministry-focused experience that requires constant risk. We spoke with Bethel Short-Term Missions Director, Julie Mustard, to help us articulate the heart and practicals of mission trips. We believe that the post below will provide fresh insight into how to prepare and execute a successful mission trip!
Watch the clip of Julie below to receive fresh encouragement and grace for your school’s mission trips!
Missional living is the posture of prioritizing relationship while serving others in your daily life.
This is the heart of missions. As leaders, modeling relationship and service for students is foundational to preparing students for a missions trip. Relationally focused service does not begin and end with a travel schedule, but starts where you are. As students see their leaders making choices to serve others, they will be influenced to serve as well. Missional living is the key to successful mission trips and needs to be the focus. Trips set up through relationship are the best way to embody missional living. At BSSM, mission trips are about serving the vision and mission of long-term missionaries, churches, and ministries.
When determining where to take students on a mission trip, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do we have relationship?
- Where do we want to grow relationship?
- Does this opportunity already have kingdom culture or do they want to grow in kingdom culture?
The combination of relationship and culture is important so that students have the opportunity to use the information and skills they’ve learned in the classroom. As students are activated on mission trips, they are adding strength to the environment and the overall mission and vision of the people they are serving.
As we mentioned before, students are in school learning theories, principles, and information. Mission trips create unique opportunities to put into practice what they’ve learned in a way that requires constant risk.
Think of school as a greenhouse. The environment is designed to cultivate growth safely, without the disturbance of the elements. Outside of the greenhouse, there are additional factors that can affect growth.
Similarly with school, students are growing and taking risks in an environment that eliminates certain outside factors. Taking students out of their normal comfort zone or routine, they are exposed to situations that they can’t experience in school while still within a safe community. Mission trips also reveal what students have gained and shows you, the school leaders, student character development.
Most schools include outreach as way to activate students, and some choose to focus on developing outreach opportunities and do not include a mission trip. Schools that are connected to a local church may encourage students to sign up for a church mission trip if that is an option. While both of these opportunities do engage students in higher levels of risk and activation, school-led missions are an opportunity for students to experience an extended time period of concentrated ministry.
Mission trips create an environment that requires a level of risk beyond outreach in your local community.
Taking students on a missions trip brings the momentum of the class to the mission field.
If you are not already doing so, begin connecting with people and building relationships with missionaries or missions organizations. Ask your students! They may know someone on the mission field or your local church may know of a community in need. Remember, the trip does not have to be in a foreign country. Your teams can experience the same risk and breakthrough in a neighboring city as they would by traveling to another country. It is most important to find people to serve that you want to have long-term relationship with. Let relationship be a primary factor in deciding where to go.
Once you begin identifying possible trip locations, start to identify potential trip leaders. While interest and experience are a large part of choosing who will lead a trip, Julie also suggests the following criteria:
- Trusted by multiple people in the environment
- Trip leaders need to carry the heart of the house and be in submission to the school/church leadership team. They are a model to students and a representation of the school and church, along with the students, to the community being served.
- Has proven leadership skills
- This is a very important quality in a trip leader and can sometimes seems unquantifiable. Each trip leader needs to be able to build trust, respect, and honor within their team. If a leader is not able to connect with students and unite them on a common vision or goal, he or she may not be a good fit for leading a trip.
- Activates others
- Trip leaders are like facilitators who provide opportunities for students to step out. The trip leader is not the itinerant minister doing all of the teaching, preaching and ministry while the students are the prayer team. The students should be doing the bulk of the teaching, preaching, healing services, etc. The trip leader is there to oversee and guide as necessary when students are ministering. With this in mind, it is also important that the trip leader is a person your students want to follow. Activating others is also built upon a relationship. A strong trip leader must be able to connect with each student on the trip and build trust.
- Has a combination of pastoral and administrative gifts
- God is doing a work in and through students! Missions is no exception. Trip leaders will need to be able to help students process their experience and provide space for them to encounter God in a fresh way. Leaders are also responsible for creating systems and processes for the way the team will function while on the mission field. See more examples of this below!
- Can balance and execute practical responsibilities
- These responsibilities include: managing a budget, organizing team meetings, connecting with hosts, securing transportation, and pastoring students through raising support.
Once your trip leaders have been identified and selected, they are responsible for planning the trip itinerary! At BSSM, our short-term mission trips include the following:
- One service project
- Depending on what the community you’re going to needs, this could include building repair, gardening, digging wells, painting a building, etc. Service includes practical needs too!
- Trips should include opportunities to share the gospel. Are your students prepared to lead people to salvation in Jesus?
- Equipping the church
- Find ways to make sure students are pouring into other leaders and believers. Some ideas include leading a church service, teaching local leaders on a topic, or prophetic ministry time to long-term missionaries.
- Ministry time
- Give your students plenty of time inside the church community and beyond to minister to others through prayer, prophecy, and healing!
Again, we believe missions is an incredibly valuable experience for students. As a school, find a way to include every student. If possible provide trip options that have varying trip lengths, different locations and costs. Remember, a successful mission trip is not about how far you travel or how long you’re away! We hope the points we made in this post encouraged your school team to take the next step in leading your students in missions! We bless you and your future trips!