Missions Trips for Small Churches


By Elizabeth Murray

Just a few days ago I returned from a weeklong mission trip to Honduras with seven youth from United Methodist churches in South Carolina. We travel through a mission organization called HOI, which is based in Olancho, Honduras. This is the fourth annual trip for this group, and the third time I have participated.  Selfishly, I enjoy this trip because I go as the interpreter for the group, and I travel “home” to Latin America—my favorite region of the world.  I will continuously advocate for all Christians, not just youth, to put their faith in action by serving others through mission. Through this experience, I have seen the youth and young adults on this trip open themselves up to what God and the world has to say to them.

But here’s the really cool thing: the seven youth on this trip were not all from the same church. They were all from smaller churches who would have had a hard time pulling off their own missions trip on their own.

If you’re in a small or medium size church, like I am, you may feel like a mission trip is impossible for you. I would feel like way, too, if I were planning a trip for only my youth group. Mission trips sometimes feel like they are only for mega-churches with lots of resources, connections, and money, right? Wrong!

Why shouldn’t youth in smaller churches be afforded the opportunity to attend a mission trip even if the whole church does not participate? This trip that we take with HOI allows youth from any size church, from any town in South Carolina to have access to the opportunity to an international mission trip geared towards youth and young adults. The trip is open for anyone from 16-22 years old who is affiliated with the United Methodist Church in South Carolina. But you can easily translate this mission model to your local context. You could gather a group of local churches in your area to create a trip together. If you are a part of a larger denomination or network, you can open it up even wider than your local community. You can open the opportunity up to a larger community besides youth, as well. I have attended intergenerational mission trips before, and God moves in unbelievable ways across generations in those particular contexts. If you don’t think you or your group is quite ready for an international trip, there are plenty of opportunities to serve in our own country or even in your own state. Partner together to serve God! Amazing things happen when we work together for the Kingdom of God!