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3 Keys to Healthy Volunteer Mission Trips

As Christians, we go, plan, organize, and lead volunteer mission trips to share God’s heart for His children. We desire for everyone to experience His love in the life-changing ways we have experienced ourselves.

Jesus took His disciples on a 3-year journey of mission trips to prepare them to carry out His mission for the rest of their lives. After the disciples walked with Jesus, He sent them out to bring the Gospel beyond the geographical borders that had defined their lives. 

In the same way, Christians today venture beyond our hometowns, our states, or our own countries to share the hope of the Gospel. Many career missionaries have dedicated their lives to specific regions of the world, and others endeavor to join them to volunteer for shorter periods of time.

3 Keys to Volunteer Mission Trips

As you search for volunteer mission trip opportunities, it’s important to consider the impact of Christian mission trips abroad on the communities in which you will serve.

Both the long-term missionary and the short-term mission trip team bring something that glorifies God. Volunteer mission trips can make a sustainable, positive impact.

On World Race missions, we’re committed to doing mission trips well. The key is partnership.

We partner with a variety of ministries and organizations that address the spiritual and tangible needs of God’s children around the world. From anti-trafficking to church planting, our partners are both long-term missionaries and national Christian leaders who are immersed in what God is doing in the region where they live and serve. 

These strategic partnerships represent three characteristics of healthy mission trips that contribute to a positive, long-term impact, even from a volunteer mission trip.

#1 Long-term Strategy for Volunteer Mission Trips

Strategic partnership with long-term international and national Christian missionaries creates a sustainable effect for the Kingdom of God. Without this partnership, 1-month mission trips to Africa have more potential to leave a trail of unfinished work and abandoned relationships.

While long-term missionaries bring direction and sustainability, short-term mission teams bring velocity. The goal in working alongside hosts with a long-term strategy is to bring momentum and new life to the vision God has given them.

Strategic Partnership on the World Race

Rather than asking partners to create opportunities for short-term teams, we want to adjust to the needs of the partner’s ministry strategy. Though you will find opportunities to share your skills to meet the needs of your hosts, you won’t come in with an agenda or set schedule of your own. We want to meet the needs of the long-term missionary partner who will continue their dedication to what God is doing in their community even after your team is gone.

It influences how we create routes, set up logistics, and do ministry. That means each day with World Race missions looks a little different. Some days could be packed full with work projects that create welcoming environments and free up missionaries’ time. Other days could be focused on teaching English or vacation Bible school, evangelism Semesters, or praying for the sick, sharing the hope of Jesus through meeting tangible needs in a community and creating a connection with the long-term missionaries.

And some days are slower, focused on living day-to-day with your eyes open to opportunities to share the love of God while you shop for groceries or explore new places.

Regardless of the pace or activity, every day with World Race missions should be focused on being part of God’s Kingdom work.

#2 Meaningful Relationships on Volunteer Mission Trips

Serving through partnership with local and international missionaries brings depth to relationships. Whether those relationships are between short-term mission trips and long-term missionaries, long-term missionaries and their communities, or encounters with short-term missionaries and local people, God is glorified by the church coming together.

The infusion of new life and energy volunteer mission trips carry encourages and rejuvenates partners. It also brings resources and manpower to propel their mission forward.

It is the person with a long-term commitment to a community who plants a church and disciples its members. The relationships and vision they provide are essential. 

If we are going to reach a broken and hurting world that doesn’t know Jesus, we need to focus on building purposeful relationships with people we encounter, even on a volunteer mission trip. In each of our lives, there have been influential people we’ve built deep, lasting relationships with over time. 

There are also people who have impacted our lives for a season, maybe through a Bible study or even from one message in front of a church. Both of these relationships are part of the Body of Christ. Each of them can have a meaningful, positive impact on us for the remainder of our lives.

Relationship-building on the World Race

With World Race missions, you will build meaningful relationships with both your hosts and with the people you encounter as you live each day. As you go, your interactions can be a connection back to the partner for a long-term investment, just like we need to be connected to church community.

Even construction projects are investments in a long-term strategy of building meaningful relationships. You can set the stage for that partner sharing the love of Jesus in future relationships. 

#3 Cultural Sensitivity on Volunteer Mission Trips

One of the greatest strengths of partnership between volunteer mission trips and missionaries or Christian leaders who live locally is the insight into the culture of the people a team goes to serve. 

In any situation, understanding the culture of the person you’re communicating with is significant. A culture’s worldview, the history and experiences that have shaped them, and their language all affect how they perceive and interact with the world around them on a daily basis. It also affects how they view God and how they receive the Gospel.

As Christians, we share the Gospel so the people we encounter can experience the hope of Jesus. Instead of rejecting other cultural norms or transferring our own culture, we can navigate culture with care and discernment. 

It’s not about changing the Gospel message, but about sharing it well. The last thing we want to do is create barriers to the message of life-changing Truth we’re carrying.

Culture with the World Race

As you partner with long-term missionaries on the World Race, you will gain a necessary introduction to the country and culture. Following the lead of a host who lives immersed in that culture is effective in doing mission trips in a healthy way. You will also dive into cultural contextualization in World Race missions training. Additionally, each month, you will have information and the resources of your hosts to introduce you to a new country and culture before you jump into ministry.  

Our goal is not to make more Christians who look like us, but believers who experience the life-changing hope of Christ.

Like most mission trip organizations, we have not always done things perfectly, but at the World Race, we are committed to constantly learning and growing to focus on reaching others for the Kingdom of God. Strategic partnership for volunteer mission trips is one way we do that. 

The body of Christ stretches so much further than we could ever imagine, and we’re privileged to partner with the members of His body all over the world.