After you’ve planned, prepared, implemented and returned from your mission trip, it’s time to unpack. Not just your suitcase, but the mission experience itself. Follow-up is an important part of going on mission because it helps the participant to understand what they learned and how God can use it in their everyday life. There are people needing a witness in our own neighborhood and unreached people in our local community. Taking a mission trip to another state or even a foreign country should help us to be more comfortable sharing our faith and encourage us to be a Christian witness in our hometown. There are so many ways to impact our community and the area around our church using the same skills and resources we take overseas. So, help your church members returning from their mission trip to unpack their experience and awaken within them the realization that the mission isn’t over.
Here are some suggestions for unpacking the mission experience that provide continued growth:
- Talk about the ministry experience and ask how what they did there can be used here at home.
- Share journal entries, pictures and videos with the church.
- Have a time of testimony and “sharing” during a public worship service.
- Provide a safe environment for discussing what they learned about themselves (weaknesses, failures, disappointments) and what God is teaching them.
- Ask them what they learned about God?
- Share about the experience on social media with pictures and testimony of God’s activity.
- Challenge them to consider how the mission experience may be the beginning of a journey God has planned for them, leading to vocational ministry, missionary service, or involvement in local ministry.
- Help them to plan service initiatives at home that draw connections between their missions experience away and service at home.
- Encourage them to continue the spiritual disciplines practiced on the trip like prayer, devotions, Bible study and worship.
- Send letters or emails of thanks and encouragement to the host missionary. Share with them how God used the mission experience.
- Discuss what “next steps” they will take on their spiritual journey.
- Send a reminder email or letter to every participant 1 month after returning with a picture of the group on the mission trip with the words… “Don’t forget! God did great things and He isn’t finished with you.”
Unpacking the experience can be a tremendous blessing and serve as a reminder to what God did … and is still doing.