December 21, 2020
Missions trips come in all different shapes, sizes and flavors, each with it’s own unique opportunities.
What do you do on a mission trip? On a missions trip, the primary goal is to do one of two things, spread the gospel, or help other people spread the gospel. There are several core things involved in most mission trips such as prayer and hard work. Some mission trips are specialized, such as a medical or construction trip.
No matter what your skillset, God can use you to accomplish his will. If you are sensing a call to missions, He will equip you to do what he has called you to do.
Here are some things you can expect to do on a missions trip…
Things You Do on Most Missions Trips
Some things on mission trips are just a “given.” Regardless of where you go and what you will be doing there, these should be central to many of the trips you take.
Prayer & Mission Trips
One of these “givens” is prayer. Group prayer and intercession for the work you are attempting to do in the community is a vital part of your ministry as you seek God’s will and pray for receptive hearts to the message.
When you step onto the missions field you are also knowingly choosing to engage in spiritual warfare and you have to be prepared for that.
Prayer both corporately and individually, meditation on the word of God, and a conscious decision to apply Ephesians 6, the armor of God, is crucial.
Working With Missionaries During Mission Trips
Another experience that most mission trips have in common is the opportunity to work hand in hand with the missionary team that is already stationed at that location.
This is an amazing opportunity to learn from the people who are staying long term and also to serve them. They spend a lot of time serving others and it is truly a blessing to be able to serve them as well.
Cross-Cultural Interactions & Mission Trips
And finally, cross-cultural interactions. Not everyone will experience these things to the same extent, however, each person will be impacted by the culture, worldview, and circumstances around them.
The more time you spend cross-culturally, the more you will learn how to be respectful of each places specific culture.
12 Types of Mission Trips & What You Do On One
Many trips will have a specific focus such as building a church building or a school. However, this is not the only kind of work to be done on a missions trip, there are many other possibilities as well.
1) Evangelism and Discipleship Mission Trips
Evangelism and discipleship are two important types of ministry that you may engage in either as the sole purpose of your trip or in addition to one of the other possible trip focuses.
These can take a variety of different formats and it may depend on the culture you are in as to which would be the most appropriate.
Different evangelism opportunities may include street and friendship evangelism, prayer walks, and distribution of Bibles and other Christian resources.
Discipleship opportunities would be more focused on helping to host Bible study groups or facilitate other gatherings for believers.
Keep in mind there is not enough time on a short-term trip to make disciples according to the Great Commission. You are there to help with whatever evangelism the preexisting ministries are doing.
2) Construction Mission Trips
Construction trips are a great example of helping other people spread the gospel. While you may or may not be interacting with the community directly, projects like building churches, orphanages, and schools open the door to future engagement with the community down the road.
Another common construction related ministry opportunity is well building. This type of ministry opens the door to sharing the source of living water with people in the community.
3) Medical Mission Trips
Medical missions are another great opportunity to reach a community with the gospel. Medical missions open up the conversation and give us the chance to introduce people to the Healer and Provider.
On a medical missions trip you will be ministering to the health needs of the community, more than likely a community that traditionally doesn’t have access to good medical practices.
With this type of trip, you may be required to have preexisting degrees or certificates so be sure to check with your sending group before you go.
4) Vacation Bible School (VBS) Mission Trips
VBS is another popular means of reaching a community with the gospel, and is also popular for short term student trips.
VBS’s are geared towards children, however, it can also open up conversation between you and the parent as well.
On a trip like this, you might tell Bible Stories, play games, perform skits or put on puppet shows. The goal ultimately is to share the gospel story in a way that they understand.
5) Education Mission Trips
When doing missions through education you are most likely volunteering at a local school, helping the children with their lessons. In this form of ministry you could function as a teaching assistant or a tutor.
In this way you can help facilitate the learning process for children in areas where the community may not be able to afford what they need to do this effectively.
As with VBS, getting to know the children may also help create a bridge to get to know the parents and share the gospel with them as well.
6) Church Planting Mission Trips
On a church planting missions trip, you are doing more than construction. The church is the body of Christ. It is the people, not the building.
So, with this in mind, church planting trips are more about discipling people and growing the body of Christ (the church) where it does not yet exist.
Then, as the body grows, helping it to get organized and build the church in that way. Eventually, this may lead to a building but church planting is largely about discipleship.
Practically this may look like helping with Bible studies and engaging in friendship evangelism with people in the community.
Sharing the love of Jesus, how he has impacted your own life, and how he can impact yours too.
7) Sports Mission Trips
Sports have become another way to reach communities with the gospel. Missions trips with this focus would likely focus on running sports camps that would give kids and students an opportunity to play organized sports while also opening the door for conversation about who Jesus was and still is.
8) Teaching English Mission Trips
Teaching English is a great way to connect with people for ministry that is becoming more and more valuable. It is especially helpful when looking to do ministry in restricted access countries.
For this kind of ministry you may work with a variety of age groups from children through adults.
Because English is one of the languages used most widely for business, lots of people want to learn. It would be valuable to learn for them, however, we can teach them that the message of Jesus is even more so.
9) Disaster Relief Mission Trips
Disaster relief ministry is a very powerful ministry to be a part of. When disaster strikes like a hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami, and people lose everything, they are desperate and without hope.
We bring the solution.
This is a particularly unique opportunity in that everyone with all of their skillsets can help. If you are skilled with building you may help with rebuilding homes, or if you are skilled with cooking, you may help prepare and serve meals to those displaced by the disaster.
So, ultimately you could do a wide variety of things on this type of missions trip in addition to just offering encouragement and comfort to all those who are experiencing such heavy loss and show them that Jesus is the source of all hope.
10) Media Mission Trips
This form of missions trip has become more and more valuable as the dependence on technology increases worldwide. If you have the skills necessary to help, it can be a great opportunity to serve overseas.
On a trip focused on media, you will likely be involved in capturing the culture and the work the missionaries are doing through photography and videography.
This material is then used to create content that the missionaries can then use to when fundraising.
11) Business Mission Trips
Another opportunity for missions is to help missionaries with business start ups. Business is a particularly effective means for creating ministry opportunities in a specific community, especially in restricted access countries.
Depending on your skillset, there are several ways you may be involved in the business. If the business is a new start up you may help prepare the building for opening day either by stocking inventory or if you have the skillset for it you may help get any final finance and paperwork done.
If the business is already in place you may be asked to just help out with the day to day work or they may be looking to expand or have special, out of the ordinary tasks that they need your help preparing for. It truly depends on the situation.
12) Work with Vulnerable Populations Mission Trips
Many of the countries most in need of the gospel are also full of poverty, and places filled with poverty are also filled with vulnerable people. One way that you may be able to serve overseas is by engaging with some of these people.
Some people you may have the opportunity to work with are orphans, survivors of human trafficking and various forms of slavery, and widows.
The Bible talks a lot about caring for the least of these, and on a missions trip of this variety, you have to opportunity to truly put this into practice.
By working at orphanages and other types of shelters and organizations to help people recover from these kinds of terrible experiences you are able to be a light in the very darkest places that no one wants to go.
A Day On the Field
Next, lets look at two examples of what a day on the mission field is like while on a short-term mission trip.
Nicole – Southeast Asia Mission Trip Experience
I talked to my friend Nicole who went on a short-term trip to Southeast Asia for two weeks in 2018.
What type of ministry did you do?
In July of 2018, I went to Southeast Asia to partner with Bring Me Hope, an organization that gives children in the orphanage and foster care systems an opportunity to attend summer camp.
A new group of kids would arrive each week, and get divided into family groups made up of one volunteer, one or two translators, and two kids anywhere from three to sixteen years old. For that week we would do pretty much everything together, from dawn to dusk.
What was your daily schedule/routine?
No day was entirely the same as another but generally, we would get up, get the kids ready for the day and enjoy some breakfast.
The morning would be spent in group time singing, dancing, playing games, tellings stories, and doing crafts up until lunchtime.
It was amazing to watch kids that have struggled so much come out of their shell when the music came on. Also, with Bible stories, we couldn’t teach them traditionally due to the country we were in, but we still shared messages of love and freedom with the kids.
We got to teach them that people still love them even when things are hard.
Then, in the afternoon, we would take the kids to the pool. This activity, silly as it may sound, helped to build a lot of trust between us and the kids.
After the pool, we would spend time in individual family groups and interacting with other family groups, sometimes on campus and sometimes doing fun activities off-campus such as the waterpark.
What is the goal of this type of ministry?
The primary goal of this ministry is to share the love of Jesus with a vulnerable population who more than likely has never experienced this kind of love before.
The ratio of people working at the orphanages and foster homes to the number of kids is very imbalanced, at times as much as thirty kids for every one worker.
These workers don’t have the time to love each child the way that they need to and our job is to introduce that kind of love to them.
What were some of the challenges?
There is a very large age range, however, there is also a very large range of ability. While there are several kids who are fully functional, there were also many others who were struggling with various health, genetic, and emotional problems.
It was very common to have kids in wheelchairs due to cerebral palsy, or who had various other genetic conditions such as Down syndrome, or polydactylism, or who struggle with various heart conditions.
There were also very high rates of various forms of abuse. Much of which went unnoticed due to the small amount of staff working there and a lack of accountability in foster family situations.
How did this trip impact you long term?
This trip really helped me develop a heart for orphans. Watching them grow to trust us by the end of the week was amazing and I really enjoyed having the opportunity to serve in that way.
This experience played a huge role in my decision to pursue a degree in Education in Missions at Bethany Global University. I hope to go back overseas and continue to serve in these kinds of communities.
Now that I’m back home I am able to continue to pray and advocate for the kids that I worked with while I was there.
I get to add my positive experiences with those kids to their adoption profiles and share those experiences over social media to raise awareness.
Dalia – Mexico Mission Trip Experience
I learned so much from my friend Nicole that I decided to interview my friend Dalia as well, who served in Mexico for six months in 2019.
What type of ministry did you do?
During the summer of 2018, I spent a week working with Mexico Caravan Mission and then went back in 2019 as an intern. This ministry’s mission is to mobilize Christ-followers to participate in the work of the Great Commission.
My first experience was as part of a youth group and my second was as an intern working with other youth groups who came through the program.
A new youth group would come each week and every day we would work with them to build homes for locals called casitas.
What was your daily schedule/routine?
During the summer our days all looked pretty much the same, we would begin the day at 6:30 am in the Word, each doing our own devotions in the common room until breakfast at 7:30 am.
Then, at 8 am a missionary would give a lecture related to missions such as a personal testimony, missions in the Bible, and the importance of the Great Commission.
After the lecture, we would load up the trucks with supplies and meet up with a local who would guide us to his land and introduce us to his family.
Then we would set to work building a casita. By lunchtime, we usually had the walls up at which point the locals would prepare a beautiful meal.
It was very humbling to see these people who have so little give so generously, and with such love in their hearts. We would also get to interact more with the kids from the youth group and discuss the lecture from that morning.
After lunch, we would install the roof, windows, doors, and paint. The goal was always to complete one casita each day. Then we would pray with the family and return to the dorms.
Our evenings were pretty relaxed, we would do worship, testimonies, or occasionally go out to eat.
What is the goal of this type of ministry?
While Caravan does provide a sort of missions experience the goal is to work with youth to develop a missions mindset, and to raise awareness of the missional mandate of the Bible.
We want to encourage students to think non-traditionally about their lives, and to offer themselves as a living sacrifice to God.
We also want to help them in their walk with the Lord and encourage spiritual growth in their lives.
As an intern, this allowed me to pour into other youth through one-on-one interactions and working with the groups as a whole. I also had directors pouring into me and helping me to grow in my walk with the Lord as well.
They encouraged myself and the other interns to grow and challenged us in the spiritual disciplines such as memorizing scripture and working through various books together.
What were some of the challenges?
There were a lot of challenges on this trip and I think that the biggest was the language barrier. I took Latin in High School so I didn’t really know any Spanish going into the trip.
It was difficult to learn how to communicate and work with translators, however, I have grown exponentially since then.
I am by no means fluent but I can follow a conversation and speak a bit for myself now as well.
It was also difficult to step out of my comfort zone as an introvert to work with new youth groups every week, however, it did teach me how to be intentional and build relationships with people.
How did this trip impact you long term?
This trip had a huge impact on me long term. During this trip, my eyes were opened to the authority of Jesus when he commands us to go according to the Great Commission.
Before this, I didn’t feel like it applied to me, however, Caravan showed me that the Great Commission was a command, not an optional calling for a few select people.
Now, I choose to take missions seriously and have made the commitment to pursue missions until I’m there, or until God closes the door.
I also learned how to live intentionally to prepare myself for this by being in the Word and in prayer daily.
As an intern, I grew even more. A tragedy in my family caused me to really struggle with grief and made it really hard to learn to love others again. However, while I was there God showed me so much of his character, and he helped me to understand him as my friend (Proverbs 18:24).
I learned how to rely on Him more deeply while still allowing my community to pour into me.
I prayed and prayed that God would teach me how to love people again so that by the end of the first three months God had taught me his goodness, compassion, and friendship in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
God didn’t stop there though, not only did he answer my prayer by showing his love and friendship for me, he also brought my now boyfriend Willy into my life, giving me an opportunity to love again on a deeper, more personal level.
Now, as a result of all these things God worked in me, I am attending Bethany Global University to get my major in Education in Missions and be able to pursue the Great Commission for the rest of my life.
There are a ton of opportunities available to you if you feel that God is leading you to missions. Don’t let feeling under qualified keep you from obedience. Pray about it, and give God your full “yes” no matter what the answer is.