8 Things To Know Before Your First Missions Trip

Mission trips provide individuals and churches with an opportunity to bring the good news contained in the New Testament to areas where Christianity is unknown. Through teamwork, it's possible to bring life-changing joy by spreading the word of God. These trips are often full of love, faith, and hard work. If you've never been on a mission trip, you will want to prepare so you can continue to move through God's plan and get the most out of your experience. We've highlighted some tips that will help anyone who is starting out.

1. Research the Community

Enrich your story by spending some time reading about the community you're about to serve. Each town or city that you visit will have something unique to share. Research before you go. Look for books, documentaries, or do a quick Google search. Your best bet is spending time with someone who has been there before. If members of your church have already gone, invite them for a coffee and get to know their story. Not only will they have insider information on what you're about to experience, but they can make recommendations on what to pack.

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Culture

This piggybacks off our first suggestion. It's one thing to know about the city and its history, but it's another to spend time learning about the inhabitants’ practices. If you're going to another country, try to pick up some of the languages. It's not necessary to become fluent, but you will be surprised how much it helps when you can say please, thank you, and engage with others. Mission trips are about bringing the word of God to His people. When you can connect on a deeper level with the community, you improve your chances of spreading the teachings of the Bible.

3. Pray

Your mission trip is all about spreading God's work. To do his bidding, you need to invite him into the conversation. Pray for your team, your family, and the people you are going to meet. Ask Him to guide you on this spiritual path so you can be successful.

4. Have Realistic Expectations

It's easy for us to get wrapped up in the excitement of spreading God's word. As we imagine our first mission trip, we can turn these dreams into an itinerary. Let your experience wash over you with God's love and trust that He will speak to you and work through you to help you make the most out of your time. Rarely do trips of any kind go precisely as planned. Talk to your teammates about their goals, but also seek guidance from your leader. Your leader will have a lot to teach you and help you set realistic expectations.

5. Bond with Your Team

You and your team will spend a lot of time together, and your purpose is to work collectively to bring Christ into the community's lives. Bonding before will help you move as one on this spiritual path. Ideally, in the months before your trip, you will find time to meet as a group to get to know each other. While it's not a bad idea to discuss the trip, the most success will come from learning about each other on a deeper level: strengths, rhythms, fears, and dreams. Reserve this time for just the group if possible. If you can't meet as a whole, try to get to know them individually.

6. Prepare Yourself Physically

It's likely that you will work long hours and be on an irregular sleeping pattern. Prep your body with the new schedule at least a week before your trip. You'll also want to start to eliminate any foods or habits that you are dependant on that you won't have access to while you're away. At least a month before you head out, try to exercise. Americans drive more than any other country, so if you are heading overseas, it's likely that you will spend a great deal of time walking. Get used to this practice if you don't already, and try to work yourself up to a point where you can walk 3 miles comfortably. And don't forget your shots if they are required.

7. Don't Wait to Pack

Leaving on a mission trip isn’t the time to pack last minute. Starting a month or two early will not only help you identify what it is you need but will also help you remove the things that are unnecessary. More than likely you will be spending time with others who have less than you. Connect with them not just through spiritual growth but through the understanding of what it's like to need less to find happiness. An excellent place to start would be electronics. If you have devices that make your life convenient, leave them behind unless they are absolutely necessary.

8. Honor Your Own Spiritual Health

Seek to grow closer to Christ before you begin this mission. For safety, flight attendants ask you to put on your own mask before you assist others in the event of an emergency. This preparation will maximize everyone's chances for a successful outcome. The same thought should be applied to your mission trip. Take a look deep within yourself and try to highlight any areas where you are currently struggling. Do you need to pray more? Grow closer to your Christian community? Deepening your relationship with God will help you spread His love.

At Concord Church of Christ, we believe in serving Jesus Christ. We assist, support, and encourage our brethren in their mission trips.  All souls are welcome! If you are interested in learning more or taking a tour of our church, visit our website to find your mission trip opportunity.

Keith O'Neal