A mission trip is like the Olympic steeplechase—you’re running as fast as you can over, around, and through every imaginable obstacle to get to the finish line. Maybe it’s the girl who shows up with a piece of luggage the size of a small horse casket, or the guy who forgot to study the packing list and brought clothes that won’t work well in your context.
We’ve learned over the years that some “unforeseen” obstacles can be obliterated before they become significant issues. We want to attack problems in creative ways to streamline our trips and tear down barriers that keep us from our ministry focus.
Problem #1: Luggage Size and Organization
When we’re traveling by van or bus for a mission trip, we purchase 31-gallon Rubbermaid tubs for everyone on our team and distribute them as luggage. The only baggage they can bring beyond this is a backpack. These totes stack well, they’re generously sized, and everyone gets the same amount of space. We collect the totes after our trip to use on other trips.
A mission trip is like the Olympic steeplechase—you’re running as fast as you can over, around, and through every imaginable obstacle to get to the finish line.Click to tweet
Problem #2: Dress-Code Tensions
We give every team member three themed t-shirts. Wednesday night, after the program, we wash all the t-shirts and Thursday morning everyone receives three clean shirts. One is for each team member to keep, and we’re expected to wear that one shirt both Thursday and Friday (they wear them for only a few hours, so they really don’t get stinky—but we do encourage extra deodorant). On Friday, our last day of programming, everyone gives two shirts away to kids we have been serving. Win, Win!
Problem #3: Teamwork and Community-Building
We set up a small city of tents at a campground near our mission location. Our kids like to spread out and nest. A tent is like a tote for a person—you only get so much space. Tents not only helps teenagers learn how to live together, but we’ve also noticed the set-up process really promotes teamwork and community-building.
Problem #4: Clarity and Direction
We have six, two-hour trainings that are mandatory, and everyone actually shows up. This provides clarity, direction, and experiential training to prepare them for their responsibilities. These trainings are so much more than an informational meeting—they are hands-on disciple-making experiences.
Problem #5: Food Exhaustion
Solution: Special Food Excursions
The food we bring along is pretty good, but our teams often get tired of “trip food” by midweek. So we hit a Pizza Hut buffet in the middle of the week, and it’s a real morale-booster (carbs and caffeine). Our kids really look forward to Pizza Hut Thursday!