Summer is just a few short weeks away which means many student pastors are gearing up for a mission trip sometime this summer with their students. In the busyness of handling all the details of the trip we must not forget that the most important thing we need to be doing is preparing the students for the trip. We cannot just take students on a mission trip and hope they figure it out as they go. We must take time to prepare them individually and as a team for the what they will be doing for God’s Kingdom on the trip. Here are some practical ways you can prepare students for a missions trip.
Team Meetings. I’m not suggesting just a quick meeting a week before the trip to tell them what to bring and what not to bring. I’m suggesting regular meetings as a team leading up to the trip. For our high school mission trip we have been having monthly team meetings since March. We will continue to meet until July, the month of our trip. These meetings give the students an opportunity to build community with each other, the opportunity for me to share important trip details with them, and an opportunity to plan together for what we hope to accomplish on the trip. In my opinion team meetings with your students leading up to the trip is a MUST!
Team Building Activities. Another thing you can do to prepare students for a mission trip is team building activities. We have been doing these as part of our monthly team meetings. Team building activities are a great way to get your students working together and growing in their leadership skills even before the trip. These activities also build closeness with your students as they listen to each other and are forced to work together as a team.
Fundraising. This may seem like a weird thing to put in this list, but I do think fundraising plays a vital part in preparing a student for a mission trip. I suggest doing at least one fundraiser together as a team. For example, we are doing a car wash next month with our team of students. Doing a team fundraiser will help your students work together much like team building activities. Not only team fundraisers, but individual fundraising by each student is a great way to prepare them. We intentionally shy away from doing too many team fundraisers for the sake of teaching students to do it on their own. We provide them the tools needed to send out support letters so they can raise money themselves for the trip. Students will get more out of the trip if they work to get there.
God’s Word. Of course the most important way to prepare students for a mission trip is teaching them and getting them into God’s Word. They can do all the team building activities they want and a fundraiser everyday, but being in God’s Word is the BEST way for them to prepare for the trip. We have done this two different ways. First, we study God’s Word together during our team meetings. We have been going through the book of Nehemiah together. Second, we provided them with 100 day devotional journals that they can use leading up to the trip. Be creative, but find ways to get your students in the Word of God before the mission trip.
Preparing your students is the most important thing you can do leading up to a mission trip. Don’t neglect doing whatever it takes to make sure your students are ready to serve others and share with them the life changing truth of the Gospel.