I participated in mission trips as a kid and then worked for a mission trip organization in college. Both ends of the spectrum had a profound impact on my faith. Neither equipped me to plan a trip from start to finish.
My first year in ministry, I floundered, unsure of how to prepare my team for its trip. What would have helped me most that year is what you see below: a detailed mission trip timeline designed to help you confidently plan your trip from start to finish.Nine Months Before the Trip:
• Work with staff, parents and students to choose the type of mission trip you'll take. Decide whether you'll facilitate your own mission trip or partner with a sister church or umbrella organization to handle trip logistics. If applicable, choose which organization you'll utilize. Choose your destination and dates. Register for your trip.
• Establish a fundraising calendar that disperses fundraisers throughout the year.
• Establish trip expectations: What will be required of those who participate in your trip?Eight to Nine Months Before the Trip:
• Hold a mission trip meeting for parents and students to announce your trip. Share the trip dates, location and purpose. Discuss who can participate and what will be required of participants. Set a registration deadline approximately one month after your trip meeting. Require trip participants to turn in deposits to reserve their spot.Seven to Eight Months Before the Trip:
• If you're working with an umbrella organization, adjust your numbers based on how many deposits you receive.
• Based on the number of deposits you receive, recruit an appropriate number of adult leaders. Meet with adult leaders to explain their job.
• Hold your first trip meeting in order to help team members get to know one another. Determine a schedule for the remainder of your trip meetings.
• Hold your first fundraiser.
• If your team will write support letters, explain this process. Give students a late November/early December deadline so they can ask for support as an alternative to Christmas gifts.Six Months Before the Trip:•
If traveling internationally, require team members to apply for passports.
• Secure transportation to/from your mission trip destination.
• Prior to booking transportation, collect another payment from trip participants.Five Months Before the Trip:
• Hold another fundraiser.Four Months Before the Trip:
• If traveling internationally, require team members to schedule an appointment with a travel clinic for required vaccinations.
• Secure lodging for your trip, including travel to/from your destination.Three Months Before the Trip:
• Depending on the intensity/duration of your trip, you may already be holding regular trip meetings. If not, schedule another. From this point forward, you'll want to hold monthly trip meetings.