If you missed the first article, you can find it here. Today, I’m going to touch on step 3 & 4 in better communicating mission trip opportunities. This week I’m going through each of these steps as I prepare for our student missions information meeting with parents December 5th.
1. Get your ducks in a row.
2. Set a date
3. Have the meeting
Once you’ve got everything together for the meeting and you’ve finished your booklet, go ahead and have the meeting. As the meeting approaches, study what you’re going to be talking about. I know this goes without saying, but you won’t believe the times that I’ve let my pride get in the way of effectively communicating to parents. 10 times out of 10 when that has happened, it’s been because I assumed I knew the details of what I was going to talk about. You only get once chance with these parents to set the tone for the mission trips, use it effectively and wisely–STUDY.
Here is what I suggest for the order of the meeting:
Why you are taking mission trips
Overview of the mission trips
The desired “end result”
Question & Answers
Make sure you point out the application and let them know that you’d like them to take it home, talk it over as a family/pray, and then fill it out. What you want to avoid, as much as possible, are students filling out applications while you’re talking. Explain that they need to be more intentional about whether they go on the trip or not.
This is the easiest step to forget. Remember to follow-up with students after they turn in their applications. In the past, it’s been really easy for me to get their application, glance over it, and accept them to the team. That habit has only hurt the team once on-field. Not every application you get should be approved. Read over the applications, pray about them, and CALL THE STUDENT to see why they want to go. I promise you won’t regret it!
Don’t you love it when you try to show someone that you care for them and they get all weird and upset? Just happened to me. That got me thinking about how much communication impacts who we are and how we function. It gets even more complicated when the other person communicates totally different. How do we deal with it? How does this impact our student ministry? My communication with other parents? Think about it.
Have you guys ever had an idea that you think would make a lot of money but would also cause people to stumble. Well….I’m that guy. For some time, I’ve had the idea of creating a couple Christian t-shirts to spark conversation and help witness for Christ, but I know they would cause a lot of controversy. Neither are “wrong,” but both carry with it an idea that certain people just couldn’t handle. I’m sure I would be labelled a “Christian crazy” and my my get a free dinner at the Incredible Pizza company card would be taken away. Oh well….snap! Now that I just typed that, I remembered that I can’t even use that incredible card because it’s not “whole30” compliant. Fail!
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!
The other day, I heard a couple ministers talking about depression. It was noted that a lot of ministers and their families suffer from depression. Since I struggle with depression, this got me thinking. Why do so many of us suffer with deep/dark/focus off of Christ thoughts? My own depression is biological and not situational. Regardless, depression seems to be a “favorite tool” of satan to attack those in full-time ministry. So, my question is this…do you struggle with depression?
Let me add for clarity, that I do not think all depression comes from a lack of regular time with God, submitting to His will, etc. Our bodies were born into a sinful world and suffer from the effects of sin. So, it’s only natural to assume that depression can also be a product of sin in the world.
We use a free service called “MailChimp” to update our 40 or so active staff. We also use mailchimp for our mission teams, all ministry info email, parent communications, etc. If you’re email group will have 1,000 people or less and out of that, you’ll seen less than 6,000 emails then you qualify for their free account.
The top 5 reasons we like MailChimp:
1. Stupid easy!
2. Quickly and easily send custom email templates to fit your ministry design
3. Stats like crazy
4. Social postings (Twitter/Facebook)
5. Schedule emails
If you are looking for a quality email service and don’t want to waste precious ministry money, check out this service!
Beginning last year, the student ministry I work with has began hosting an annual junior high conference called Frequency. Frequency is design to be cheap, high quality, and promote area unity. If you have a moment…you should check it out! Cost is $10 for each student. Non-churched students get in free. Includes 2 free leadership registrations.
Nick is a 29 year old student minister living in Greenwood, IN. He's happily married, father of one, former missionary, and a closet Star Trek fan. He loves all things Mac and can't wait to go out west on an adventure.