Mission Trips: Why and How?

Courtesy of messiah.edu.

by C. Thomas Davis.

I've spoken with many pastors who are concerned that missions may be such a financial drain on the church that it would be difficult to maintain the rest of the church programs. As a former pastor, I can certainly empathize with those feelings. Let me offer a few alternative responses that will show you how mission trips can enhance your current ministries.

Having dealt with numerous churches and their missions programs over the past seven years, I can absolutely posit one thing – mission trips always result in the building up of the local church. In fact, missions have been the contributing factor to help many churches become stronger and add numbers to their congregation. Why?

> It builds the faith of members. They'll inevitably return from the trip more passionate about reaching people in their community. Likewise, people who become involved in a short-term outreach often return with a desire to serve in other areas of the church. What you'll get from the experience are extremely committed and motivated servant-leaders.

> God's blessing will be on the church. This is illuminated in Philippians 4:19, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." What's often overlooked about this verse is why Paul said God would supply all of their needs. What was the reason? The reason is found in verses 15-17. The Philippian church was the only church who sent Paul a gift when he left Macedonia. They sent him another gift for his trip to Thessalonica. So the reason Paul said God would supply all of their needs was because of their heart to give to his missions trip. God will do the same for your church.

> Outreach creates community within the congregation. People who would otherwise have no way of meeting one another discover each other through outreach. Many times people connect because of common interests. Outreach also serves to connect people who have special gifts of service and helps them find a place of ministry.

> The church is the tangible body of our Lord on earth. Thus, every church has a responsibility to do its part to fulfill the Great Commission: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20). What an exciting opportunity to be Christ in the flesh for those who've never heard.

As you consider how you can improve or begin your short-term mission trips, use the following checklist:

* Connect with a mission organization that focuses on relationships.
* Organize your team meetings around creative, community-building events.
* Value diversity and seemingly crazy ideas.
* Take a family approach to ministry on the field.
* Be prepared to enlist an army of passionate Christ-followers who'll return ready to give themselves wholeheartedly to the local church.

This isn't a one-two-three step method for successful postmodern missions. Remember, people with a postmodern mind-set can't stand formulas or categories. Instead, use these principles as ways to focus on the values that are important to the way they think and see the world. Let these values emerge organically. Create space for the trip to be relational, experiential, and personal, and you'll have a dedicated group of postmoderns who'll be sold out to your missions program and your church for years to come.

C. Thomas Davis is the author of Fields of the Fatherless (Global Publishing, 2003) and the director of Children's HopeChest, a missions organization meeting the needs of Russian and Romanian orphans – see the current March/April issue of PRISM Magazine for a profile of this powerful ministry or go to http://www.hopechest.org.

(Excerpted from REV MAGAZINE – to see the rest of this article, go to

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