One of the key component ministries of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry is “Serving His World,” which encompasses missions. Many of the BCM’s and church based Collegiate Ministries are very active in taking short-term mission trips over Spring Break and during the summer months. These trips can provide benefits for the sending group as well as the mission hosts. Here are some things to consider that will help guide in planning a short-term mission trip that will hopefully be a rewarding experience.
The first suggestion would to be to start early. How early will be based on whether the trip is Domestic or International. The coordinator of the trip will want to have plenty time to communicate with the field of service to determine the type of ministry needed. This will also provide time for recruitment, training, and fund raising if needed. I personally try to have trips lined up a year in advance, or at least an idea of trips. In the event that a trip does not work out, you will have plenty of time to organize another option.
In your pre-trip planning there are several matters you will want to consider. The first is, why? Why are you wanting to take a short term mission trip? What are you wanting to accomplish and what do you want your students to learn? The answer to these questions could help determine where your trip will be and what training needs to occur. It is important that the mission trip offer some challenge to students to stretch them in their lives, but also provide some opportunities that are less challenging.
The next consideration is “how will you fund your trip?” Depending upon the destination of your mission trip, the cost of the trip could vary from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. Most college students typically do not have extra dollars available to them so the second idea is to begin fundraising. One of the most effective means of fundraising is to create a letter for students to send out to as many people as possible. A general rule of thumb that has been used is, if you would invite them to your wedding, send them a letter. Another idea, is to send letters to those whom you sent a High School graduation announcement to. Experience has shown that students who send out seventy five to a hundred letters can usually raise enough money to cover a two thousand dollar mission trip.
The final consideration in putting together a short-term mission trip is “to have a true servant’s heart.” In talking with several missionaries, they have stated frustration in hosting mission teams. Their experience is that leaders want missionaries to customize a trip for them to meet the team’s needs. The goal of a mission trip should be to do whatever will enhance the ministry of the missionary on the field and be willing to do whatever it takes to help them strengthen their work on the field.
Short-term mission trips can be valuable to both parties involved. With careful planning and with a right heart, both those on the field and those serving can have an impactful experience.