Now that the prep work is complete, what do you do now? It is time to execute your plan and fulfill your mission in whatever place you have chosen. Everything you have done has led you to the dates of your mission trip and it's time to watch your plan of action come together.
Here are some things to remember during the execution stage:
It is important to remain flexible. As one of our students put it, “you should expect the unexpected” – That’s important to remember. One day it was raining during our mission trip and we had to completely change our setup for the neighborhood bible school. So, things do happen and change, but we have to go with the flow! Remind your mission team daily to remember to be flexible. Let God work the way that He sees fit and allow Him to do some incredible things during your mission trip. Not everything will go according to your plan and that is okay! In fact one of our requirements was, "Individual must be a team-player and flexible as circumstances and schedule will change from time to time."
Always be in conversation with your mission team. Ask them what worked, what didn’t work, what we can change to make tomorrow better, etc. It shows them that you care about the work they are doing and you will want to know what they saw and experienced. It's important to do this while it is fresh on their minds. For example: If you are doing a neighborhood bible school in an inner city community, go ahead and begin talking to your mission team about what happened during the bible school while you are riding back to the church building or central hub.
It’s also important to debrief each evening. Each evening have a devotional led by one of your mission team members. This is a great opportunity at the end of each day to remind everyone why they are here - to glorify God and spread the good news. It's also important to debrief, talk about the day, and talk about what the next day holds. One thing I like to do each evening is to ask the mission team, “Where did you see God today?” I think it is important that we are noticing God in what we do because He is the one who gave us our talents and abilities so that we can share with others about God’s love. You’ll be amazed at how young people and adults respond to this question!
Be Polite. There are many people working to make the mission trip as successful as possible. One of those people will be the local coordinator who will have coordinated things locally to make sure that your team is fed, you have a place to serve, you get to where you are going, and there are opportunities for your mission team. This person is volunteering to help you and may have their own shortfalls when it comes to organization, time management, etc. Thank them for all the effort they put in to give you opportunities to serve in that area. Also, the local congregation may choose to feed you lunch and dinner. (Your team may not always like what is served.) It's important to remember they are helping the mission team to be fed and keep costs at a minimum. Be sure to eat what you are served, be thankful for those who made the food, and be polite. After all, this is one less thing you have to spend money on.
Be Mindful of Time. If you are asked to be somewhere, be there early. You do not want to be the reason the whole day was thrown off schedule. In conjunction with that, make sure your team is getting the proper rest. Days can and will be long - You do not want to keep your mission team up late. Make sure they are able to go to be at a reasonable time, so they are rested for the next day.
Allow yourself to have a free day at the end. No, this is not the purpose of the trip but your team has just been overwhelmed and challenged the last 4-5 days and they need to relax.
I would love to hear your feedback and comments on things you would recommend during the execution stage of a mission trip.
Read about the work that we did in Orlando, Florida with Concord Street Church of Christ:
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister at Rose Hill Church of Christ. He is married to the beautiful, Joy Thompson (who is way out of his league!). They enjoy sharing life together, ministering to teens and families, football in Tuscaloosa (Roll Tide!), and musical theatre. Andrew is a proud supporter of sarcasm and dry sense of humors. Thank you for reading!