8 Hacks to Get Everyone Involved in Your Mission Trip Even If They’re Not All Traveling 

Have you ever had the thought, “Why am I putting so much of my time and energy into this mission trip when only 7 students are going?”

Me too. 

So I spent the last several years figuring out a few different ways to maximize the investment in the mission trip experience. I wanted to find ways to get more students involved in the mission trip, even if they would not actually be traveling for the mission trip. 

Here are a few things that worked for me: 

  1.  Have the students who are going on the mission trip form their own fundraising team.Maybe it’s their small group. Maybe it’s their basketball team. Or their family. Come up with a team name (this creates excitement and momentum – and something to post about on social media!). Encourage each team to fundraise for the cause together. This helps more people become invested in the mission experience. For a few ideas on fundraising check out this blog.
  2.  Equip as many people as possible to be talking about the mission experience. Not the logistics and the fact that you need to raise money. But help people learn to talk about whoyou are going to serve and why. Give students and parents the language, vision, and resources to be an ambassador not for the trip, but for the cause. People want to be part of something, not just be asked for something.  
  3. Rotate where you host your team meetings leading up to the trip.Instead of having them at the church in a room where you don’t have to interact with anyone, find families in the church who will voluntarily host the team meeting at their home. This allows families who maybe can’t give financially, or can’t send their student on the trip, to be part of it somehow. Designate the first 15 minutes of the meeting to be a time where the team members don’t talk to each other, but they minister to the family hosting the meeting. Have them pray for the family as a group before you start the meeting. This approach actually works really well from both perspectives. The family gets to be part of it, but also, the team experiences what it’s like to go to someone’s home and get to know them and pray with them prior to going to another culture/context to do it. 
  4. Have a group of students plan a party or share service upon returning.Help students brainstorm ways and places to share about the experience their friends are having on this trip. Slideshows. Panels. Social media posts. Create a highlight video. Cultural food. Cultural music. Flags. Let students plan the entire program together. If they get to do this for their friends, they will have much more ownership in the mission as a whole. 
  5. Offer support to those who are traveling. Publically or privately. Identify students or small group leaders who are not traveling on the trip to encourage those who are traveling. Make short videos on their phones to encourage the students going. They can be posted on social media or sent directly to them. Have students write letters and put them in the suitcases of those traveling. The goal is to let those traveling know they have a whole group of people cheering them on back at home, while also keeping the trip in front of people so they can be praying.
  6. Expand the options. If you are limited on the number of students, parents, and leaders you can bring on your student trips, find out if there are any other mission trips that your church offers. Maybe pitch one of those as a family mission trip? That way students can go on more than just your mission trip. Include them in the mission trip debrief celebration. What a cool way to show students they don’t have to be part of just one thing to serve God in the world.
  7. Bring the mission to your students rather than bringing your students to the mission.Host a mission trip experience in your church parking lot or your zip code. For example, host a 5K race around the town park. Throughout the trail, have facts and statistics and pictures for people to experience and learn about an injustice while participating in the 5K. Or, bring in an organization like Feed My Starving Children or Operation Christmas Child where they can learn about a need in the world, and then together as a ministry work together to meet it. 
  8.  Watch a movie or documentary on an injustice and talk about it as a group. This can be a one-time event, or you can do a series of these gatherings where students can opt in or just come to whichever injustice they are most interested in learning about. This will help you identify those students who have a heart for these injustices, and you can lean in to their passion to get others excited about it too.

There you have it! 

Eight strategies to incorporate more students into the experience you are working so hard to create. I am sure there are million other creative ways to get more people involved in missions programs and events. So tell me one of yours! 

Ashley Bohinc