The Valentine’s candy is on sale. The snow is starting to melt. Pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training in warm, sunshiny destinations. It can mean just one thing . . . It’s time to kick your spring break mission trip planning into high gear. Servant events come in all shapes and sizes but share one thing in common: they take time and effort to plan well! Prior to my current role at CPH, I spent three years as the Servant Event Coordinator for a human care organization on the US/Mexico border. I can hang Sheetrock with the best of them, in addition to knowing my way around mission trip minutiae. These eight tips will help ensure that you and your group can focus on witnessing over logistics.
- Pray, for yourselves and for those you will walk alongside in ministry. Ask others to pray too. Consider planning some pretrip devotions that tie in to your trip Bible study. Trip Bible study?! Relax, there are an abundance of options available that require minimal effort to lead.
- Maintain regular communication with your hosts. Find out who your point person will be, and ask questions. Then ask some more. Trust me, you’re not driving him or her crazy!
- Maintain regular communication (yes, again!) with your team. Get to know one another, and make sure all are on the same page in terms of required documentation and vaccinations, the dress code, what to pack, trip costs, deadlines, and travel plans.
- Did somebody mention costs? Travel, registration fees, lodging, meals, project materials, incidentals . . . it all adds up. Remember that God will provide. I’ve learned that firsthand time and time again! Fundraising doesn’t have to be complicated, and you’ll be surprised by the generosity of those around you. Put out a plea in your church’s bulletin or newsletter. Petition to be the recipient of a door offering or the offering from a special event. Have Sunday School or Day School children collect Bible story books, socks, hygiene items, and the like to leave behind as a donation. Send snail mail to selected fellow church members and groups (LWML, Mission Board, Men’s Club, etc.), family, friends, and co-workers. Apply for grants. Host a bake sale, car wash, trivia night, or spaghetti dinner (Thrivent Action Teams can boost your profits!). Partner with a local restaurant that is willing to donate a percentage of their sales from customers who bring in a specific flyer on a set date.
- Plan for on-site work project needs. Your days might not be planned out minute-by-minute (see #8), but here are the three most common project categories.
- Construction. Find out if tools/supplies (including work gloves, masks, and safety goggles) are provided. Often, you’ll find that local youngsters will congregate around your worksite; hence my suggestion to incorporate children’s books into your fundraising. Impromptu interactions are just as important as swinging a hammer!
- Evangelism. Editorial Concordia, CPH’s Spanish division, offers the only bilingual (Spanish/English) Vacation Bible School program on the market. The reproducible Teacher’s Manual was designed with missionaries in mind. I think you’ll be surprised by this year’s theme . . . Our repertoire of teaching tools for just about every situation also includes posters, puppet scripts, children’s messages, craft ideas, and more!
- Medical clinics. Jesus heals people in both body and spirit. Minister to those waiting in line, or have a local pastor available as people exit. The Evangecube presents the Gospel story in a quick, simple visual format.
- Be intentional. Missions is ultimately about sharing the Gospel. Actions speak volumes but pale in comparison to God’s living and active Word. Divide the cost of some Christ-centered printed materials that align with your circumstances among your team members and build it into the trip costs.
- Stay connected. You’re inevitably going to forge lasting bonds. Have a debriefing after the trip as you come down from the proverbial mountaintop: reminisce, share photos, and gather around God’s Word once more. Don’t lose touch with your new friends either. Social media can be a big help! The daily encouragement of a Portales de oración (Portals of Prayer) subscription would go a long way toward continuing the bonds that you started. Special annual events like Christmas toy or school supply distributions, cultural celebrations, graduations, Baptisms, and the like are also meaningful occasions on which to share Jesus and show you still care.
- Be flexible, flexible, flexible! Circumstances beyond your control are . . . beyond your control. Nothing—not flat tires, freak downpours, or untimely illnesses—is beyond our awesome God’s control though!
Now, go and make disciples! Romans 10:15 proclaims, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” That’s YOU. We’d love to hear about the who, what, where, when, how, and why of your trip in the Comments section below. That way, we can keep you in our prayers before, during, and after the fact! Furthermore, if you’ve been inspired by the product suggestions above and will be working among Hispanics, our Spanish Outreach Essentials Quick Order Form makes ordering a breeze. Use promo code QCO at checkout for bulk discounting in most cases. I’d recommend the convenient bundle packs under the topmost heading. They take the hassle out of picking and choosing!