This last year we hosted our traditional “Mission Trip Interest Meeting” for a trip to Israel, which was little over a year from taking off. This meeting had a little twist to what had been our norm for a few years. This endeavor, spearheaded by a church volunteer, had an increased intentionality behind it. Drew, our volunteer point person, and I talked through ways we could add more value to this trip. It was costing each participant a little more money than our normal trip, time away from family and work, and the scope of the trip would demand a little more attention. We explored how we could best maximize the team’s experience and our answer was, “Let’s make this a Small Group!” Fast forward a year. One week from now, we will take off for the Holy Land and I want to share four reasons our next missions trip will start as a small group, and yours should too!
YOUR GROUP FORMS A BOND BEFORE YOU LEAVE.
Outside of learning and growing in acts of service to others, one of the greatest byproducts for many missions trips is the church’s team growing in relationships with one another. This is typically observed a few days in, after the breaking in period. If your group begins meeting the semester before for a specific study or orientation, each member grows in relation with one another and form a great bond before the departure date. The trip then multiplies this relational value even more! A group that serves together, stays together!
YOU’RE ABLE TO BETTER PREPARE FOR YOUR TRIP’S MISSION
Learning each member’s unique passions, gifts and skill set is a value for planning how you can best serve those you are traveling to. If members meet prior to the departure, they are able to plan out tasks of service, trip projects and/ or how they’ll share the Gospel. We were even able to plan a few meetings around video conferences with the team on the ground, thousands of miles away! Weeks of meeting, praying and planning together will increase your impact ten fold. There is no greater natural enhancer of impact than being properly prepared for what God has called you to.
THE GROUP IS ABLE TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE, CULTURE, AND GET A BETTER SENSE OF WHAT TO EXPECT.
Drew was intentional and prayerful about his search for the best group study. In addition to Biblical study, it focused on historical lessons of the region, customs and cultural differences we would encounter. We also learned about the organization we’d be serving alongside and how they’ve served the people of Israel for over 30 years. This also made our trip more than a drop in service project. We have, and will continue to have, an ongoing relationship with the people we will serve and serve with. The weekly gathering quickly opened our eyes to what we would encounter and how we can best be prepared to take it all in. Many members expressed their gratitude for being so well informed of what they’d see and experience.
THE GROUP ADDS A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF VALUE
As point people, we wanted to make sure to maximize this experience for all involved. Drew believed that creating a study and orientation with Israel and our partner organization could create a year long experience, as opposed to one week, and he couldn’t have been more correct. The curriculum, video chats, and already formed relationships have already proven to be a great win for our coming missions efforts. I am excited that our Small Group culture was able to add so much value to how our team will experience and serve Israel.
We’d seen this model successfully executed in other churches and were excited to try it in our setting. If your church is looking to add another layer to your missional experience, I’d encourage you to marry Small Groups with your trip endeavors.