The word “mission trip” probably evokes an image of someone hammering nails on a roof in some faceless, impoverished town. It’s not an entirely inappropriate picture, because lots of Christian missionary work involves representing Christ through acts of service. But it’s the goal of sharing the Gospel that really sets Christian missionary work apart from secular volunteer work. On youth mission trips, sharing the Gospel requires us to build trust, and that can be difficult in places where differing dialects and languages complicate communication. Even among people who speak the same language, establishing trust can be a daunting task. With this in mind, consider creating a brief handout to facilitate easier communication with the people you meet on your trip.
We first saw this idea at www.youthministry.com. We loved the concept and decided to flesh it out a bit more. This handout can be filled out by each team member, then printed and given out to people you meet on your missions trip. For international trips, you’ll probably want to have this translated. A free online translator may be the easiest way to get started. But, if you go that route, your translation may have a few errors, so you may want to include a quick disclaimer at the beginning of your handout. We recommend using half-sheets of paper. This encourages succinct answers, saves suitcase space, and is more environmentally friendly.
Here are a few suggestions for things to include on your handout.
1. Your photo: Be tactful; don’t include a photo of you on a yacht, or in any setting that would make it hard for the people you are serving to relate to.
2. Name: Consider local customs. If your full name could be difficult for others to pronounce, you might choose a shorter version to be used as a nickname.
3. Age: This isn’t always appropriate, and it might seem like unimportant information. That said, its potential for creating commonalities between people of a similar age can make it useful on youth mission trips.
4. Testimony: If you’re comfortable with it, sharing a candid, concise personal testimony can make you more relatable to others. More importantly, it can facilitate a conversation about faith, and that’s what Christian missions are all about.
5. Share one more piece of information. This could be something like “my favorite school subject is…” or “when I was a child, I was afraid of…” As with the other information, the goal is to make you relatable and to introduce a potential conversation topic. Thus, it’s especially important to be tactful here. Since much Christian missionary work is done in impoverished areas, you might not want to list the top ten favorite video games you own, or your dream sports car.
We recommend that you and your group talk about appropriate ways to frame your answers. It’s vital that they understand the importance of avoiding condescension and to start taking the perspective of those you will be visiting. The discussion will make this handout more effective and, even better, it’ll help your team to be better prepared for their endeavor. So before your team members grab a hammer on your next mission trip, have them pick up a pen!
It’s never too early to start praying about your next Christian missions trip. Whether you choose to do work in the US, or to volunteer abroad, you’ve got plenty of options with Mission Discovery. Please don’t hesitate to visit our website to see the variety of mission trips we have available for all ages, genders, and lengths of time. Now is the time to start planning for a mission trip with Mission Discovery.