Tips for Successful Short-Term Missions


By Brian Mateer

Short-Term MissionsI love short-term mission trips.  I love being a participant and I love leading them.  A well-planned and executed mission trip can be a beautiful blend of education, serving others and transformation for both participants and leaders.  It can lead to deeper exploration of outreach and can also make a tremendous impact in communities where the mission is happening.

A poorly planned and executed trip does little more than make us feel good about ourselves and can be detrimental to areas and organizations we are intending to help.

I’ll own it.  I’ve been on, and I’ve led both wonderful short-term mission trips and also some not so good ones.  I have learned a lot over the years and vow not to make the same mistakes.

As the school year is coming to a close many youth leaders are turning their attention to summer mission trips.  Here are a few tips I have learned over the years to help make your summer mission trip awesome:

  • The number one priority for missions is to share the love of Christ to others
  • Plan and prepare thoroughly
  • Spend plenty of time prior in training and educating your students in what they should expect
  • If your mission project takes you to another country or across your city, learn together about the cultural context you will be working in
  • Encourage flexibility
  • Partner with established and reputable organizations
  • Debrief daily as a team
  • Adopt a servant attitude
  • Point out where God is moving and invite others to share where they have seen the same
  • Treat whomever you are in ministry with as an equal
  • Remember when the trip is over the experience, learning and ministry continues
  • Make sure to follow up with the team well after trip is complete
  • Encourage taking “next steps”

Following these guideline will help to ensure a meaningful and impactful mission trip for all involved.