It’s not a secret if you read my blog that we have a pretty structured way of doing student missions. It works for us and has been pretty successful in discipling students in global awareness and action. All of that being said, I realize that you probably don’t do student missions the way CSM does them. Regardless of our approach, we still have to communicate with parents about opportunities. My challenge is this…how do we communicate that missions is more than just signing up for a trip in hope of doing something cool and marking an item off of your Christian to-do list? Having a missions strategy is important, but I believe these tips can help any ministry who is planning a mission trip.
1. Get all your ducks in a row.
- What I mean by this is that you need to make sure you know all of the details you can BEFORE announcing the trip(s) to your students/parents. Email, call, text, look up online, etc any details you can about the trip. This makes you more prepared, but it also builds trust with potential trip parents.
- Once you have a good grasp of the details, make a folder (on your computer or physically) and put all of that information in it! This sounds stupid, but I’ve lost emails, links, and papers with critical details before.
2. Set a date
- By now, you should know the dates of your trips. If you don’t, get to work on that! Once you get that figured out, look at your calendar and set a date to meet with all the parents and students in your ministry. We call these “Parent/Student Informational Meetings.” You’ll use this meeting to communicate to any potential team members/leaders about trip details, costs, what you’ll be doing, etc. I’ve found it is best if you have a meeting like these as opposed to just posting the info online or in an email. Parents/Students ALWAYS respond better when you’re talking face-to-face. This also helps build trust in your ability to take their kids on a mission trip.
- As a side note, realize that for parents, mission trips are viewed as a little more “dangerous” than a ski trip or whatever. Even if you’ve been taking your students on these types of trips for years, parents will view a mission trip differently. Take the time needed to build trust with parents. If they don’t trust you, they won’t let their kid go on a trip no matter the cost, need, and coolness.
- At this meeting, you’ll want to give out a booklet or informational packet so they can write notes during your meeting and take the information home. Include all the basic stuff that you would want to know if your kid was going. [Download a sample] You might not know what you’ll be doing exactly (that is normal), but give some sort of description about trip activities. I include a application with this packet. [Download our summer 2010 application here]
Tomorrow I’ll post steps 3 & 4. Feel free to use any of our info to benefit your ministry. If you have photoshop and need the PSD file of the info poster, I’ll be more than happy to send that to you. Comment with your email address and I’ll get back to you. Thanks!