Leading a Trip

As you prepare for a missions trip, there are many details and questions to be answered if your team is to experience success. Besides determining when and where you will go, with whom you will minister once you arrive, housing arrangements, etc., there are several major considerations you must address in order to have the best possible team for the assignment:

  1. What is the purpose this team is to accomplish?
  2. Do team members need a specific skill set?
  3. Can everyone go or will a small group be selected?
  4. If a small group is to be selected, who will select them?
  5. What will the criteria be?
  6. Do personalities need to complement each other to avoid problems?
  7. What will you do to include participation by those who are not chosen to serve on the team?
  8. How will communication regarding their selection be handled?

Defining the Purpose

A well defined team purpose will help to answer the other questions. Whether a team is to do construction, backyard Bible clubs or door to door witnessing, you will want to have team members who are capable of performing the task. Clear communication with the on-site coordinator before you select your team is recommended. If you have questions about the assignment(s) for the team, housing, food issues, etc., it is your job to clarify those things ahead of time. This approach will make it easier to clearly define and communicate the team purpose, enabling you to put together the best possible team.


Matching Skills with Assignments

Knowledge of the assignment(s) will help determine if your team members need to have a specific skill set. You do not want to take a group of ladies who think they are going to be canning vegetables for a children’s home on a missions trip only to discover that what is needed is a construction team to help build cottages to house the children. By the same token, it is doubtful that those who could handle the construction would want to be in the kitchen for the canning project!


Things to Consider

There are some missions trips which can utilize the abilities of anyone who wants to sign up but most missions trips can be made better by choosing specific people who meet specific criteria. Age, health, prior experience, a specific sense of God’s calling to serve on a particular team, etc. can be taken into consideration. It is very important that all applicants receive the same information and are evaluated on the same basis.


Selecting Your Team

Naming a missions team selection committee may save your life as the missions trip leader. Choosing three or four people, including someone from the ministerial staff, will make the selection process easier. The selection committee should meet and first make a list of the characteristics they are looking for in team members. The purpose of the trip and number of team members you are looking for should be stated clearly.

After careful consideration of all applications and a time of prayer together, the selection committee should compile a list of the team members they agree will be able to work together to be the best team possible. Two to three alternates should be named as well, and listed in a priority order should team members need to back out at the last minute.


Team Personalities

Mission trips lead to multiple outcomes. They help to meet the ministry needs in the area where you are working. They also help team members to mature in their own faith as they minister to the needs of others. Finding team members whose personalities will complement each other helps to put the focus of the team on working together toward God’s purposes. If there are personality clashes on the team, the whole team’s efforts will be hampered if physical, emotional, and spiritual energy has to be spent trying to defuse potential explosions. You want to have team members whose personalities will make it natural for them to work in that particular setting.


Involving Others

Every missions team that leaves the home church to go and serve in another area needs to have support from those who stay behind. A home team is a great place to ask those who are not asked to serve on the going team to serve. It is critical, however, that the home team be given specific tasks to do to support the going team. Simply naming people to a home team and asking nothing of them is a waste of everyone’s time as well as depriving them of the opportunity to have a significant role in your church’s missions outreach.

Team Communication — Vital!

Communication with ALL applicants should be consistent. It is of critical importance that all potential applicants be made aware of the upcoming missions trip and the process for submitting an application. It is equally important that all who chose to apply hear from the selection committee as close to the same time as possible. They need to hear a consistent message to avoid confusion.

Bear in mind that not everyone will be 100% happy with the choices made by the selection committee; but if the committee has truly sought God's guidance through the process, the committee members can feel good about their choices. If, after hearing complaints and protests, the selection committee decides to reconvene and add team members, be prepared for the whole missions trip to be problematic. Waffling on their decision will indicate that they have no real conviction about the decision they have made and will be permission for team members and others to ask for special treatment.


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