Preparing for Mission Teams

January 11, 2018

A short-term mission trip sets the stage for powerful transformation, both in the lives of trip participants and those in the community.

Those who come to serve will see needs, help meet needs and learn that those being served have much to give. This temporary work force can bring glory to God, encouragement to believers and a strong testimony to those not yet following Christ.

With proper planning and preparation, a mission experience like this is not just a one-time “event” but a part of your church’s strategy for long-term Kingdom impact.

Prayer is essential:

  • for God’s leadership throughout the process.
  • for the right team and the right time to accomplish God’s purposes.
  • for the team to walk in the good works God has prepared for them.
  • for them to be effective with their time, bold with the gospel, courageous in love and fruitful in service.
  • that they will seek to partner long after this mission experience is over.

Strategy shapes everything

  • Know the big picture goal for involving a short-term team in your work.
  • What are you trying to accomplish and why is it important?
  • Is that goal worthy of the team’s travel and investment of time, energy and finances?
  • Will this project help the team grow in their faith? Will it positively impact those you are serving in your community? How does it fit into your church’s long-term strategy for reaching your community for Christ?
  • Not every team will be a good fit with your strategy. If goals, schedules and purposes do not align, do not be afraid to politely decline the team.

Clear communication is key

  • Make contact with the leader of your potential mission team as soon as possible and continue to stay in touch throughout the process.
  • Be clear and direct about what you need and what you can provide.
  • Let the team know of any expectations you have and ask about their expectations.
  • Leave no question unanswered or assumed.
  • Put all the details in writing: proposed work schedule, housing arrangements, materials and supplies, skills needed, etc.
  • Your time hosting the team and their impact will be as effective as the relationship and trust you develop with them.

Prepare the team for their mission

  • If possible, arrange for the mission team leader to make a pre-project visit to your mission setting.
  • Provide the team ahead of time with information that will be helpful regarding the community, people, cultural-isms and things they will encounter.
  • Are there any safety or security considerations they need to be aware of? Provide the address of the nearest hospital or urgent care center.
  • What’s “appropriate” in the church and community regarding dress? What’s the proper way to address people they encounter in the community? What should they NOT say or do?
  • What’s your recommended or preferred way for them to share the gospel? Are there words they should use/avoid in sharing the gospel? A preferred translation of the Bible? What’s your process for following up on their ministry contacts?

Offer a warm welcome

  • If this project lasts longer than a day, what are the options for housing and meals?
  • What does the team need to bring with them? Sleeping bags? Cooking gear? Construction or ministry supplies?
  • Who in your church would be available to work with the team once they are here? Remember that mission volunteers are coming to work with you, not for you.
  • Offer orientation as quickly as possible when the team arrives. Welcome them sincerely and provide a quick overview of the church, community, and the work they will be doing. Help them understand how the work they are doing that week fits into the larger picture of what God is already doing and is leading your church to do.
  • Help them to feel welcomed and appreciated! Follow up after they leave with a thank you note, short “thank you and here’s what happened because you came” video or other way to say “thanks, you really made a difference”.
  • Stay in touch and keep the door open for an on-going ministry relationship.