In past years, short-term missions were mainly summer activities. Some churches would hold an annual youth mission trip, help another church with VBS, or join in on a construction project.
Today, Illinois Baptists are engaging their Acts 1:8 mission fields year-round. We are excited to hear reports that our churches are engaging lostness around the world and around the block and all year long.
Because short-term mission strategies are becoming more common, the need for good planning is even more essential.
12 Months Out (Evaluation Phase)
In missions there are always pieces that worked well and plenty that can be improved upon. This is the time to evaluate the success of the previous year’s projects to help improve this year’s plans.
9 Months Out (Logistics Phase)
A date is set about nine months in advance with careful consultation with the ministry site. You don’t want to lead a group to do a VBS while children are still in school or busy with other activities. Schedules in foreign countries are often very different from our own.
After the date is set, begin working on a trip budget. Mission trip budgets are extremely difficult because there are many variables.
Airline tickets are the most expensive part of a mission budget and the most difficult to estimate. Some leaders have found that it is better to advertise expenses apart from the airfare so flexibility can be communicated until ticket prices are more firm. It is difficult to raise the price of a project after it has been advertised. Working with a travel agent who is experienced with mission trips is a plus in this process, even though tickets maybe purchased cheaper elsewhere.
6 Months Out (Enlistment Phase)
When the logistics of the project are mostly complete (remember that mission trip details change all of the time) the team recruitment phase can begin. As the Holy Spirit has led through the first few stages of planning, the Lord will call out missionaries to join the team.
Lay out guidelines concerning who can participate. The priority is for God to use growing Christians on mission trips. For example, if someone isn’t sharing their faith currently, they will not be effective spreading the Gospel on a trip where it is more difficult.
An application process will be followed and background checks and reference checks will be completed on all participants where applicable.
3 Months Out (Training Phase)
After the team is enlisted, the training phase will begin. Make sure every participant has applied for their passport and know about immunizations that may need to be completed if traveling internationally. The team will be given clear ministry assignments and will begin organizing. Team training will highlight cultural differences and evangelism techniques.
1 Month Out (Final Phase)
As you finalize all the details, recruit prayer partners for each team member. A strategy will be followed to communicate effectively between those who are going on the trip and those who are sending them. The mission team has been called out, signed up, trained, packed, commissioned and is sent on the trip. The year-long plan has prepared a team that is excited and usable by God for his purposes.
Every detail of mission preparation is difficult to include in a brief report. IBSA is ready to help lead your church through every part of your project. Visit IBSA.org to learn about IBSA-sponsored mission trips you can be part of in 2020.