Seven Keys to a Successful Short Term Mission Trip

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Butch Jarrell led Short Term Missions for Word of Life Fellowship for nine years before he and his family decided to serve in Brazil full time. In this post, he shares his advice for the leader who is planning on taking a team on a short term trip to a foreign country. Sometimes groups will be so unprepared that they are a frustration to the long term missionaries they intended to support, a danger to themselves or are simply ineffective. Butch's experience will help a mission trip leader avoid these pitfalls and prepare to do good, effective work for the Lord.

What experience do you have in short term missions? How have you been effective? Where have you failed? What are your fears?
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Butch has learned a lot from his years in overseas missions. These  practical keys summarize his advice. 
  • Pick a purpose 
  • Plan for a key location
  • Prepare for the trip
  • Protect the participants 
  • Partner with others
  • Participate in the culture
  • Pray 

Consider the purpose of your mission trip and the experience of your team. How will you serve? Health care? Assisting a long term missionary/ministry? Work team? Are you focused more on ministry or pleasure?
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Consider your location. Why do you want to go where you are going?
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Consider how you will prepare for your mission trip. How will you get there? What size is an appropriate group? How are the communication needs and restrictions? What does in-country food, lodging and transportation look like? What immunizations or medicines do participants need?
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Consider how you will protect the participants . What are your contingency plans for possible travel delays, cancellations, illness or other emergency situations? What are the emergency and health contact information? What are the safety and security precautions for the country you're traveling to?
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Consider who you need to partner with. Who can help make your trip more effective? Is there an organization with seasoned leaders who could help? Is there a like-minded person within your own church who will help?
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Consider how you will participate in the culture. Where can you learn about the culture before your trip? How will you teach your team about understanding and being sensitive to that culture? How can you learn from the culture of the country your serving and embrace the differences? How will you make it fun?
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And most importantly, consider the prayer needs for the mission trip. How can you organize your team to pray for each other? How will you pray for the people you serve?
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We know there are many emotional and logistical details in taking a team overseas to serve. But with this practical advice and by surrounding the trip with prayer, your short term mission trip can become a wonderful participation in the Great Commission.

For more RightNow Media training posts, teaching videos and Bible study resources about Missions, check out our Mission & Outreach Library.