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Missions trips can be some of the most powerful experiences in your students faith journey. But in order for them to have maximum impact, there are some basics that should be considered.

Think big … but start small
You don’t have to travel to a tribe that has never heard the Gospel before to have a successful trip. There’s nothing wrong with thinking big, but let your experience grow with the challenges. The most desolate place on the face of the earth probably isn’t the best place to bring the 13-year old son of your pastor. But, it might be fun to fantasize about leaving him there.

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Group Mission Trips: Where Youth Encounter Jesus
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Plan time to talk
A mission trip can’t be go-go-go all of the time. Plan downtime in the evenings to divide into groups and talk about the experiences of the day. Maybe even plan a speaker/worship time as well. And free time is pure gold for spontaneous conversations that build long term relationships.

Get them all home safe
It only takes a few (actually one) students being left at a gas station in the middle of West Texas for parents to never trust you again (long story). Take your larger group and divide them into small groups to make sure that everyone is accounted for each step of the way.

Bring the trip back home
Don’t let the trip end when everyone steps out of the church van and back on “home soil”! Chances are there are some great opportunities close to home that could even mirror the experiences of a trip. Visit an orphanage in Jamaica? Find an orphanage close to home and plan a serve day there. Did you paint, build or do other types of manual labor? Focus on a few people in your church who have needs you can meet close to home.

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Group Mission Trips: Where Youth Encounter Jesus
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Plan a reunion
There’s nothing more awesome than circling everyone up again and talking about the trip a few weeks later. Invite the parents so they can get an up close encounter of the experience their child had on the trip. If you’re really thoughtful, plan a few words (the encouraging kind) to say about each student who went on the trip. Throw in some food from the region and a slide show of the trip and your students will have an incredible trip down memory lane.

What other mission trip basics would you share in the comments?

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