As groups prepare for a mission trip, many focus on the logistics, sleeping arrangements and what tools need to be brought to the work site. Many times the spiritual preparation for the experience takes a back seat and spiritual growth either "just happens" or doesn't when the team actually gets to the work site. Your experience and effectiveness will be greatly enriched if you are intentional about the spiritual dimensions of your journey, before, during, and after the trip.
As you prepare to go on your mission trip, focus on these three items:
1. Prayer Partners - Make sure each participant develops prayer partners well in advance of the trip. You can double your prayer power and broaden the impact of your trip by partnering in two ways:
- Invite another member of the mission team to be your prayer partner for the weeks before, during, and after the trip. Praying together while on the trip will be an especially powerful experience.
- Invite a member of your congregation who is not a part of the mission team to pray for you daily as you prepare and as you go.
2. Group Devotions - before, during and after the mission trip- Devotions are such an important part of your mission trip. Spending some time each day in devotions as a group builds community and accelerates each person's spiritual growth. Make sure that you spend time to grow closer to God and learn from God on your mission trip. The three books listed below are good books for group devotions.
- Transforming Ventures: A Spiritual Guide for Volunteers in Missions, by Jane Ives
- People, Places and Partnerships: A Workbook for your Mission Trip Abroad, by Sally Campbell-Evans
- Meeting God in the Ruins: Devotions for Disaster Volunteers, by Judith Mattison and Catherine Malotky
A very good devotional book for personal devotions is Before you Pack your Bag, Prepare your Heart by Cindy Judge. If you would like to order this book, you can call Campfire Resources at 1-877-783-6646.
3. Team Sharing and Debriefing Time - At the work site, team members can become frustrated, sleep deprived or anxious about the work to be accomplished. Most will have moments of exhilaration and others of frustration all within the same day. You will also have experiences with your partner and on the site that deepen your understanding of mission. Processing this as a group is helpful to the individual and allows them to share their learnings with others. It is also an important opportunity to resolve the conflicts and misunderstandings that inevitably arise in any context where people are living together 24 hours a day.