Once you have planned, prepared, and executed, we must have to make the mission trip stick. We need to follow up and reinforce the things we learned while in the mission field. This is one of the most important components of a youth mission trip. Recently, I have read several articles that did not give positive reviews to short term missions, especially youth missions. They argue that what the team members learned and put in to practice was not sticking with them upon returning home. I believe it is because of poor follow-up. So, this is an area that I believe we could do a better job in when returning home. It is crucial that we have a follow-up plane.
Every mission trip should be done with the mindset of using the knowledge gained while doing mission work, in our everyday life.
The lessons we learned and the knowledge that was gained through the prep and execution should be what we use in everyday life once we get back. As ministers, we must do a better job of implementing these things in our planning, our classes, and our ministry purpose.
There are people needing missionaries in our own backyard. We choose to take mission trips outside of our hometown with the hopes that the mission team will overcome their walls of comfort – step outside of themselves and become uncomfortable for the cause of Christ. However, it is important that we find ways to make an impact on our community and to serve the needs of the people around us. Maybe you have a large homeless contingency in your city, host a coat and sock drive near winter time, then deliver those items to those living on the streets. Do you have an inner city housing community? Find ways to get involved with them in the summer and host a neighborhood bible school for the kids. There are so many ways to impact the community around us. Implement that and drive home the idea of being an everyday missionary.
How can we do a more effective job of following up after our short term mission trips?
- Talk about what was learned and ask how we can use that at home.
- We got involved with the M.O.M. project through Partners 4 Africa where our kids would donate money each week to help buy meals for orphans in Zimbabwe. Two lessons were learned: 1. It is important to share our blessings with others. It only costs $0.50 to feed a child one meal, so the students could give up buying a coke to help feed a child. 2. Learning that we may never see the impact that we made on someone’s life. While they were sending money to these kids to benefit them, we had to realize that we would probably never meet these kids and we would never know how we impacted their lives. Yet, we are still called to do good, serve others, and spread the gospel of Christ.
- Talk about the work that was done and use the mission team to find ways to do that work in your home town. Bring missions home with you! There will be some opportunities that you can bring home, but there will be some that you will not be able to bring home. Find what best fits and set things in motion.
- Be in constant communication with your mission team.
- Schedule a follow-up meeting within 2 weeks of you returning home while everything is fresh on their mind. Talk about the mission trip as a whole, talk about the works you were involved in, lessons learned, and how the trip impacted their life.
- When an opportunity comes up at home remind them of the lessons learned during their mission work and how it applies to the work being done at home.
- Ask them for suggestions, ideas, and inputs in regards to service opportunities, community outreach, and mission works within your own community.
We must continually ask ourselves, why do we go on mission trips? If it is anything other than to learn, grow, serve God, and spread the good news of Jesus Christ, then we are going for the wrong reasons. I hope these series of articles have helped you as the planning process of your next mission trip begins.
Next week - A timeline of planning a mission trip. When should you start the planning? When do I need to book lodging? What about airline tickets? All this and much more will be answered next week.
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Andrew Thompson is the Youth and Family Minister atRose 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!