Outreach is a vital component of any church ministry, and that outreach cannot simply be limited to what’s close to you. Church mission trips serve a vital purpose, allowing church members to spread the word and aid to often underserved, disadvantaged, and under-informed communities around the world. Here are some essential tips for planning that mission trip.
Explore all fundraising paths
In today’s world there’s no reason to solely rely on the donations of your church congregation to fund your mission trip. While those contributions help, there are a variety of fundraising options you should explore. The first type is the direct fundraising event. Examples of this include bake sales, yard sales, charity raffles, 5k runs, designing and selling t-shirts for your trip, and even bar crawls. After that, you should ask local businesses if they would like to sponsor your trip. Many businesses with strong ties to your community will be more than happy to help you fund your mission trip.
Finally, you should absolutely make use of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. Not only do these sites have an international reach, but your fundraising campaigns are easily shared through social media – a huge boost to your cause.
Don’t be culturally ignorant
The main goal of a mission trip isn’t to teach, despite what you may think. It’s to learn. One of the worst mistakes you and your mission team can make in your preparation is to fail to take the time to learn about the culture before you travel to a foreign land.
“When serving a community outside of your home country, the traveling mission team should have a basic understanding of what to expect in terms of cultural norms, language, dress code, food, climate, lodging, and on‐site transportation. The host club can be especially helpful in providing insights and orient the team on what to expect when preparing for the trip,” notes The Lions Club.
Mission trips are all about the bonds you can make with the people you visit. Make sure you know as much about the area as you can before traveling, and be extremely open to learning once you arrive.
Know how to stay safe on your trip
It’s a fact of life that there are dangers to traveling to some areas of the world, and some of the most dangerous areas are where many mission trips find their destinations. Keeping you and your mission team safe should be a top priority.
You should always maintain situational awareness when abroad. Pay close attention to your surroundings and assess any threats before they happen. You and your team should know of all the “safe havens”, whether they be law enforcement stations, churches, international organizations, etc. Every team member should have a phone programmed with important emergency numbers.
In some areas, it may be beneficial to keep a lower profile. This means you should refrain from advertising yourself or your purpose through your attire, jewelry, or other accessories. Never advertise your wealth. For a great checklist on how to be prepared for the unexpected, check here.
Before leaving on any mission trip, your entire team must be aware of the culture/location where they are heading and should be responsible for brushing up on how to be respectful. It’s also important to plan for the worst, even if you don’t really want to focus on possible negative situations. Helping others around the world is one of the highest callings one can undertake, but you must be smart about the realities of any situation.
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