Planning for a Successful Mission Team

_BCL0368Several leaders have asked me for tips in planning a successful international mission team. 

Here are critical steps that can assist you in having an effective missionary journey:

  • Advanced preparation of six months to a year is vital in helping to alleviate anxiety, unify the team, increase effectiveness, eliminate potential issues or problems, and strengthen your relationship with those that you will be serving beside.
  • Determine the project opportunity and make contact to lay plans with the field partner.
  • Flexibility is a must.
  • Openness to new experiences will make you a stronger team member.  The food, lodging, and culture will be different from home and may stretch your comfort zone.
  • It is crucial to have the ability to adapt to new cultures, experiences, and changes that God may have in store.
  • Need to have a willingness to leave your culture at home.  You are a guest in their land and you will be more effective if you do not come with a “our way is the only or best way” mindset.
  • Be informed.  Learn as much as you can about the place where you will serve and the ministry tasks that you have been asked to perform.
  • Know the code of conduct and dress for your place of service.  Some acceptable practices in our culture are frowned upon in other cultures.  A good rule of thumb is “when in doubt, it is best to dress conservatively.”
  • Be aware of any security issues and always remember that you are your best security guard.
  • International mission projects require all volunteers to conduct a background check on all team members and to conduct a 30 minute training on child protection using the “Child protection” video that has been prepared by the International Mission Board.
  • Determine the cost – airfare, transportation, food, water, housing, translators, immunizations, visa, recreational activities, and any other needs shared by your field representative.
  • You need a current passport and many countries require a visa for entry.  Passport expiration should be at least 6 months beyond date of trip.
  • Determine if there are any immunization requirements or recommendations for your point of travel. You can find recommended immunizations at www.cdc.gov/travel.
  • Purchase international travel insurance through Gallagher Charitable Insurance.
  • Take all that is needed for your trip, but try to pack lightly as possible.
  • Be aware of baggage allowances.
  • Do not seek to bend the rules.
  • Follow the lead of the missionaries or nationals that you are working with.
  • Prepare spiritually.  It is important to be in prayer, in the Word, and in a good spiritual mindset, before you leave for the field.
  • Go with a servant spirit and remember that you represent Christ in all you do.
  • The primary reason for going should be to answer God’s calling and to bring honor and glory to our Lord.  Always remember, it is not about me.

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