VIM: Getting Started on a Mission Trip
Volunteers in Mission provides an opportunity for United Methodists to serve as short-term missionaries to people in need around the world.
- Pray about and consider why you want to go to a mission trip, and what the mission’s vision looks like.
- Select a destination. It is easiest to travel to a site that is already familiar with hosting teams. For example, there are a number of Methodist church centers along the Gulf Coast that host teams repairing hurricane-damaged homes.
- Funding may determine where to take a team. A trip to the Gulf Coast or Great Plains may cost $650 per person, but an international trip may cost $1,500 to $2,000 per person. Local mission work is an inexpensive option – groups can work through the Baltimore County Christian Workcamp for as little as a half-day.
- Current teams forming – join now.
- VIM workcamps and service projects for youth/young adults – join now.
- Register your team. Let the BWC know where you will be going on your mission trip and obtain proper accident insurance.
- Advertise your team openings. We can help! Fill out the form online.
Preparing before the trip
- Communicate with another team who has served on the same project, and ask what to expect and what to bring.
- Invite another VIM team from a nearby church who has been to the same region to help inform your team about practical and cultural information.
- Meet regularly as a team to bond, plan for specifics and make sure members have a passport or other necessary items. Teams should learn cultural sensitivity for the mission area, plus learn about the region’s economic, social, political and religious realities in order to understand the context for the team’s work.
- Plan out how you will involve the church – through running a clothing drive before departure or presenting to the congregation upon return.
- Plan for evening devotions, song, worship leading and other spiritual activities.
- Communicate with the site coordinator via phone or e-mail to nail down logistics.
- Schedule a team commissioning during a worship service.
- For domestic trips, if possible, send out a scout in advance of the trip to see the project site and evaluate what tools to bring and what to expect, so that your team can get to work immediately.
Tips for successful mission trips
- Travel light. Limit personal luggage.
- Think team, not self.
- Planning for detail logistics is essential. Confirm as much as possible.
- Conduct church fundraisers to help defray the cost of the trip for team members.
- Worship together as a team regularly and often. Provide opportunities for personal reflection.
- Remember, work goals matter, but relationship building comes first.
- Prevention is the best way to maintain good health on these trips.
- Know and be sensitive of the culture you are entering.
- Debrief the team, realizing that coming home from a mountaintop experience may include feelings of depression, guilt, regret or unease.
- Consider keeping journals and share the story of your trip with the congregation. The best stories are personal, accurate, factual and focused.
- Lift up God in all that you do.