The mission trip is over. Everyone is unpacked, well, almost everyone. Pictures continue to get posted and shared. Friends, family and church folk continue to ask, “How was the trip?”
My question, “What is next?” What is next for this team of sixteen? Eleven students who for the past five weeks spent time each day in quiet time working their way through two different journals, raised the $1,000.00 each they needed to go on the mission trip, worked really hard on the trip, experienced the joy of sharing Christ with the little kids in the park, experienced the “mission trip high”.
What next for the team? They go back to school, playing ball, working their jobs.
How can we bank on the investment this mission trip was in their lives?
Expose them to opportunities to share
Sunday night during our weekly student church we gave the whole team opportunity to share about their entire trip from the preparation to the last day of outreach in the park. Give students an opportunity to talk about their experience.
Follow up with a letter
I sat down and wrote each student a letter to thank them for going on the trip and in each letter included something specific to that student that I observed on the mission trip. I used this as an opportunity to encourage them to continue on with their great attitudes, hearts to serve and passion to share Christ back here at home in their community. I only had to write eleven letters, if your group is large you may want to pull in other adult leaders to help. You know how encouraging it is when you get that once in a blue moon note of encouragement. Imagine how the students will feel when they get a real live letter, not email or text, but a letter at home from you.
Not only have I invited them to pray about the trip for 2017 but I have invited them to join our student leadership team. The students just came back from an intensive hands on leadership lab on a tiny island in the Caribbean. I’m going to jump on the chance to build the leadership team with students who exhibited leadership on the mission trip.
For a month before the trip the student worked through I Am a Servant from LeaderTreks. On the trip and even this week at home they have been working through a mission trip journal that focused on Nehemiah. Next I’m going to invite them to work though another daily quiet time journal on discipleship. I want to help them have the habit of studying God’s Word and learn to feed themselves so when they graduate and move off to college I can sleep at night knowing our students have been taught how to study the Bible.
Start planning the next mission trip! Include this year's team in the planning process.
Whatever you do don't let the mission trip be the "end", make it a beginning.