Starting Point for Your Work in Student Missions

Planning a student mission trip, whether in states, across the country, or around the world can be a daunting task. While every trip is unique, here are some major factors you will want to consider.

  • Who will help you plan?
    • Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Don’t plan a big endeavor like a mission trip alone. Gather a team to help you plan the many logistics.
  • Why are you going?
    • Mission trips can make an incredible impact. They can bless the host churches or ministers. They can reach the lost for Christ. They can open the eyes of students and leaders to the needs of our world and the impact of missions and ministry. There are many other impacts a mission trip can make. As you plan your mission trip, seek to answer the questions: “Why are we going?” “What lasting impact do we hope to have?” “Are our motivations right in going on this trip?”
  • Who will go?
    • Which students will be going? Is everyone invited or just those who meet certain stipulations (attendance, fundraising, training)? What ages? How will they sign up?
    • Which leaders will be going? How many will you need? How will they be vetted? Will parents be able to be adult workers? Is there a minimum age required?
    • Will you be partnering with other churches or another agency (such as IBSA, the North American Mission Board, or the International Mission Board)?
  • What will they do?
    • What will happen on your mission trip? Will certain or special skills be required of those who participate or can anyone do want needs to be done? What is your group best suited to do? Will there be work to engage all that come?
    • Have you connected with local leaders to know that your plans will be effective in the context to you are going to?
  • Where will you be going?
    • Will you be going somewhere you have established relationships with or somewhere your church has not been before? Is there a compelling reason to go to a certain place or are you wide open to considering locations? Consider partnering with IBSA, the North American Mission Board, or the International Mission Board on mission trips they have planned. This can often make a difficult undertaking much more reasonable, especially for the average sized church.
    • If at all possible, plan a pre-site visit, especially if you are going to a place you haven’t been before. You will be able to tour the area, figure out what will work best, meet area leaders face to face, secure lodging and ensure that it will meet your needs, and get a feel for the community you will serve.
  • How will you get there?
    • Will you drive, charter a bus, fly, ride a train? What is the best travel option for the number of people going and the supplies you must take? What option is most cost effective? How will luggage and supplies be transported? If you take a train or plane, how will you get around once you arrive?
  • What will it cost?
    • What are the expected costs of the trip? Consider travel expenses, lodging, food, and supplies. Try to be as thorough as possible. Also, expect that that there will be some expenses that come up that you haven’t planned for (for example, a parking cost, local leaders who join you for a meal, something that breaks and must be replaced).
  • How will you pay for it?
    • How will you fund these costs? Possible funding sources include the annual church budget, funds given with a designation for student missions, fundraising activities, and student payments. Will students be expected to pay their full cost or a portion of the cost? If fundraising is needed, what will be done to raise the funds?
    • Will leaders be expected to pay to go on the trip? Will you cover all or a portion of their costs?
    • How will payments be collected? Will students make payments in installments? What happens if someone hasn’t paid what is expected on time?
  • What training will take place ahead of time?
    • Who will train your workers? What materials or tools will be needed? What additional training will adult leaders need? When will the training take place?
  • What will you do when it doesn’t go as planned?
    • Every mission trip is full of its own surprises, and something will go wrong. Try to think through contingencies and problems that might arise. If flights are delayed, what will you do when a connecting flight is missed? If someone becomes ill, what is the plan? What will you do if you find more down time than you had planned?

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. There are other considerations you will need to factor in. In your planning, remember you are not alone! Your partners at IBSA, the North American Mission Board, and the International Mission Board are committed to seeing you succeed.


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