We’ve been doing domestic mission trips with middle schoolers and international mission trips with high schoolers for seven years. Our international missions program has grown into our best evangelistic and discipleship tool, and here’s a few tips and tools we used for launching a successful international mission trip and maximizing its impact.
TIP: Find a reputable organization to help.
OK, we’re a bit biased here. But parents want to know the organization has its act together. They want to know the organization has thought through safety precautions, and that they can trust who will be caring for their child. Make sure the organization works primarily with teenagers and has been around for a while. We recommend you check out CIY’s Engage program as one of those options.
TOOL: Host online communication time.
The day we switched to zoom.com for some of our meetings, our attendance jumped 30 percent. Not to say you shouldn’t meet several times in person, but right before summer (when you take most of your trips), attendance will dip and schedules get crazy. Don’t be scared of new tech; everyone has something with a camera now. You want to do these trips while not adding another 100 hours of work into your already-busy schedule.
TIP: Bring strong leaders.
Students buy into the ministry once they go on one of these trips, and they also buy into the leader that goes with them. Do not just bring warm bodies. You want to get your best leaders on this trip so plan your trips a year in advance. We like to do a 5:1 ratio for mission trips. This allows us to have small travel teams for travel, small groups and work teams. The bonds that are made on these trips are incredible.
TIP: Work hard and play hard.
Get serious about having fun! Plan an activity for the trip like white-water rafting in the jungles of Costa Rica, volcano surfing in Nicaragua, or snorkeling in Belize. Make sure you plan excursions … they’ll talk about it forever.
There are a ton more tips and tools to share, but this is a good start. I truly hope you jump into the waters of international missions and feel its impact. Please reach out with any questions you may have. What tips do you think are missing? It’s time to go!
Adam Flora is a guest columnist for Christ In Youth. He has served in the youth ministry for Christ's Church of the Valley in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for many years.