On Mission Trips: The Motivation, the Mode, and the Meaning

The Motivation

Or the reason for taking a mission trip

I would like to share with you some things that would motivate someone to take a mission trip. As Bible-believing Christians we understand that it is our responsibility to reach the world with the Gospel. The question is how each believer will be involved in taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I am confident that from both a human and spiritual perspective it is imperative for a Christian to take a mission trip when considering how best to use their life to reach the world with the Gospel. The reasons being as follows:

To see the need 

Every Bible believer knows that there is a sin problem in the world. Every Bible believer knows that there is only one way to heaven. But too often that knowledge is held in a sense of apathy. There is not a pressing burden for the desperate need of the millions of lost souls following false religions to certain doom. The world is in need, and the need must be felt by our brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe from experience that the most impactful presentation of the need of the world is to do as Christ did: direct the disciples attention to the multitude. To let them see you cry for the lost of your country. To tell them to lay their eyes on the droves of people walking about as sheep having no shepherd. 

To see the difference in lifestyle

The saved people of America become immersed in the American way of life and become more American than Christian. We are isolated from many of the problems others face. It allows the average man to live a selfish life. Many of the Christians of our country seem to be consumed with only themselves. A mission trip puts life into perspective. It helps people see that there is more to life than living for self. It helps people appreciate the blessings they have and motivate them to give of their surplus. 

To see the difference the Gospel makes

Many people have not seen how God can change a person’s life. How he can change absolutely everything about a person and what they live for. To Americans it is considered unwise to give it all up for God, to go all in without a degree or plan to “fall back on”. The American Christians that hold to this view need to see how a national believer would make many great sacrifices to follow Christ. Sacrificing good family relations, a chance at a better education or social status just to follow Christ. Many times being a Christian in America is so easy we forget that the Gospel is a radical life changing force. But on a mission trip, when the American Christian hears the testimony of the young man who has forsaken all to proclaim Christ he is challenged. The challenge is to do more for God, to live recklessly for Christ. Oh, what God could do with a hundred Christians recklessly sold out for Him! 

Conclusion of the motivation for mission trips

There are more reasons to take a mission trip, but in my estimation, those three reasons are enough in themselves. Christians need to see the need, the difference in lifestyle, and the difference the Gospel can make. 

The Mode

Or the way to have a mission trip 

This is the technical side of things. We can agree that a mission trip should be taken, but how should we go about it? Let me suggest a few principles to follow when having a mission trip. 

You are helping them, they are not helping you 

Many times the goal and purpose for a mission trip is to have multiple Americans pay an expensive fare to come and have them do work that a national could do better and much more cheaply. Or, slightly better than this, is to have Americans come and assist in ministries. While this can be helpful it must be borne in mind that there are language and culture boundaries that are not easily crossed without the time and effort of at least a few years of learning. No, the best way to conduct a mission trip is not to pay too much for labour or have Americans do, what most likely will be, a poor job of reaching people. The best way to conduct a mission trip is to challenge the travelers to give everything up for Christ. You are there to help them see how they can do more to reach the world for Christ. Doing this may involve some physical labour or having them participate in various ministries, but that is for their benefit much more than yours or the people of your respective country. 

Communicate 

It is wise to be in touch with people via email months before the trip. Consider sending an info packet containing information on what they will need and things they should or should not plan for. Send a covenant asking for them to commit to whatever you see necessary i.e. “I will work to have a good attitude on the trip” or “I will not seek a romantic relationship while on the trip.” By communicating, you make yourself available for any questions and you become familiar to the folks you will soon meet. As the trip nears consider sending out a schedule to keep people in the loop and to excite them for all they will experience. After the trip is over make it a point to stay in touch with those who have come challenging and encouraging them to do more for Christ. 

Considerations for who, what, where, when, and why

I would not suggest having anyone under the age of 16 on the trip. There is a lot more responsibility involved with minors. Be careful not to plan the trip for too long. 9 to 10 days seems to be a sweet spot for mission trips. It is long enough to really see and do a lot while not being so long that people become exhausted, disinterested, and homesick. It is good to allow the people who have come to share their testimonies and hear the testimonies of the nationals. Give your guests opportunities to hand out literature and participate in other types of ministry as well. Make sure you take them to the spiritually significant places. Can you take them to a graveyard or funeral? Can you let them go where the religion is taught to the people i.e. mosque, cathedral, temple, etc? Take them to see the city at night when you can count the lights. Take them to see the people that walk in droves and challenge to count the innumerable amount of people that are most likely lost. 

Conclusion for the mode of mission trips 

Every country and context is different, but if you keep the motivation for a mission trip in mind you will know what to do for the mode. You want to help them, you want them to get to know you, and you want them to be challenged by the mission field. 

The meaning 

Of the result of a mission trip

You could argue that the meaning of a mission trip is the motivation. I would agree. But I would also go a little further as well. During the mission trip you exposed people to the need of the world. Any tender hearted Christain cannot walk away from that unchanged. What are the lasting fruits that could come from a well organized and executed mission trip that is taken for the right reasons? 

More missionaries 

I have seen God call people to be missionaries because they took a mission trip. It is that simple. Can you imagine what it would be like to be the person God used to raise up the next Apostle Paul, William Carry, or Jim Elliott? Or the next Austin Gardner, Don Sisk, or Randy Stirewalt. People who were simply sold out to reach the heathen for Christ. 

Passionate lay people 

Not everyone will feel the call to be a missionary after a mission trip, but everyone should be changed. Even if a man or woman goes back to the grind of college or work there will be a difference. There will be a greater passion for souls, a greater affection for missionaries and the ministry, a greater sacrifice of self for Christ. Parents would be more open to God’s missionary call on the life of their children. Folks would know how to pray for the mission field, missionaries, and nationals. 

Knowledgeable leadership 

Why would you want that pastor or youth pastor come on a mission trip? Because you want them to know what it is like on the other side. Many times it is the pastor that goes between the people and the missionary at churches. You want the pastor to be intimate with what missionaries face on the field. You want them to look at their young people and think “he or she could be a missionary one day.” When the church leadership is behind the missionary effort it is not long before the whole church is behind it. God could use you to raise up a whole body of believers to do more for reaching the world than they ever had before! 

Conclusion on mission trips

You should do a mission trip. It is worth your time and investment. I would venture to say that it is yet another tool God has put in your hand to use in reaching the world with the Gospel. So I Challenge you: use it and use it well. 

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