The Ultimate Road Trip
By John Bailey and Carol Pipes
Missionaries and pastors are desperate for short-term volunteers to help
them reach the three out of four people living in North America who don't know
When is the need the greatest? All the time.
Where is the need the greatest? Everywhere on the continent.
Families on the Gulf Coast need help rebuilding their homes and lives.
That's an obvious need. But thousands of miles to the north, churches in Canada
need help with outreach events like Vacation Bible School or servant
evangelism. One mission experience develops as a reaction to unexpected and
tragic circumstances; the other is centered on enjoyable-even fun-environments
with meticulous advance planning. Yet volunteers are essential for both types
of short-term mission experiences. From Ontario to Louisiana-and everywhere in
between-the opportunities are endless to volunteer for short-term missions that
have far-reaching results.
Opportunities to serve God exist nearly everywhere you go--beginning in your
own community, across your state or North America and through- out the world.
Here are nine basic steps for individuals, families or mission teams who want
to be on mission.
1. Pray. Ask God to lead you through the process
of finding a place to serve.
2. Be realistic. What do you feel called to do?
Where do you feel called to serve? How much time can you commit? When is the
best time of year for you, your family or team to go on a mission trip? What
financial flexibility do you have?
3. Check with your church, local association or Baptist state
convention for mission opportunities of interest close by. To
learn more about opportunities throughout North America, visit NAMB's volunteer
mobilization website at thebridge.namb.net. Register and complete a user
profile, then search for projects based on project type, region, key word or
4. Choose your project based on location, type of work and
skills needed. Projects appropriate for families
include Vacation Bible School/Backyard Bible Clubs, Resort Ministry, Campground
Ministry, possibly even construction if older children are participating.
Again, be realistic. Choose a project that has value and will allow you to
accomplish the task, so you don't leave frustrated.
5. Contact a local pastor or missionary. All
projects listed on The Bridge have a project manager who will serve as the
leader when you arrive. The project manager will help with logistics such as
lodging plus provide cultural information to help you prepare your team in
advance. Determine your project date as early as possible. For a summer trip,
it is suggested that you begin planning the previous fall, and set a date by
6. Nail down logistics. Decide travel plans early,
so if plane tickets are needed you can buy them in advance, maybe using
websites offering specials. Book hotel rooms three months ahead (resort towns
require more lead time). Search for family or group discounts, or consider
options such as camping or staying at a church. Your project manager can help
with housing, but you may need to provide meals.
7. Define your task and expectations in detail by phone and
email with your project manager. Practice what you'll be doing at
home so you're ready for what will take place on site.
8. Research the culture of the people you'll be
serving. People in Iowa will respond differently from people in
Texas. Your project manager will be your best source.
9. Go. Serving through missions can become a
Missions is living out your faith in obedience to what God has called you to
do. It's about changing your world by helping meet the needs of others, with
the result of introducing them to Jesus. Being on mission is doing
this in a deliberate, intentional way.
God has called all believers to step out of our comfort zones and mobilize
for missions. And what greater adventure could there be than traveling across
North America to share the gospel with people who need to hear about the saving
grace of Jesus?
Could a mission trip be in your future? Fair warning-they aren't for the
faint of heart. Living conditions can be uncomfortable-consider the volunteers
who helped after Hurricane Katrina. Even helping with VBS can be
unpredictable-requiring flexibility and an attitude of servanthood.
But if you love adventure and want to be part of something only God can
accomplish, it's time to pack your bags and hit the road. Whether you're a
family, church group or individual, God has prepared a place for you to
Pam and Dean Rowell of Longview, Texas,
began instilling a love for missions in their children-even when they were in
diapers-by experiencing the Great Commission together as a family.
"The Bible says train them up in the way they should go," says Pam. "We've
never taken a family vacation that wasn't associated with a mission trip. For
17 years we've used our vacations to go on mission to Tennessee, Arkansas,
Missouri, Colorado, Alaska, Louisiana, Mexico, Wyoming, and other parts of
Now in their teens, Eric and JoyAnna have gone on family mission trips every
year since they were born. Traveling with small children isn't easy, but the
Rowells know they've laid a solid foundation for their children to understand
importance of mission service and sharing Christ with nonbelievers.
Like any vacation, a mission trip allows families to spend time together,
drawing closer and having fun. But in addition, family mission trips provide a
shared experience for changing their world.
One responsibility of all churches is mobilizing volunteers, a natural
opportunity to provide the kind of hands-on experience that becomes a spiritual
marker in the life of a Christian. Also, short-term mission trips are an
important step in the process of growing mature Christians who one day may be
called to a career on the mission field.
Missions is the heartbeat of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tennessee.
Using Acts 1:8 as a guide, they developed a missions strategy to reach the
local community, their state and continent and even overseas.
"We encourage each ministry area to be actively involved in missions," says
Todd Pendergrass, associate pastor of administration and missions. "Every age
group can participate in missions, and we even provide opportunities for
Faith Baptist commissioned almost 2,000
volunteers in 2005, sending them as far away as Alaska, Brazil and the
Philippines. Others stayed close to home, participating in Loving Our City
projects. Each Sunday school class has a missions coordinator, and all classes
are encouraged to participate in one local mission project per month.
When a new public school opened across the street, Faith Baptist volunteers
were there to help teachers and administrators move in. Others spent time in
downtown Memphis feeding the homeless and working at a clothes closet.
"Many volunteer with our multi-housing ministry," says Todd. "We planted
Hope Fellowship Baptist Church at a local apartment complex, providing worship
services, occasional block parties and tutoring for about 100 kids. The
ministry has been so successful the owner wants a church planter at each of his
17 complexes. I'm excited to see our people put feet to their faith."
To effectively answer God's call to take the gospel to all people, it's
vital for churches to develop a long-range plan. The North American Mission
Board and its SBC mission partners has enlisted more than 1,400 churches to
adopt an Acts 1:8 strategy, committing to year-round missions to reach their
Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. And, using present-day
locations, where might that be?
Let's use the example of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett, Tennessee.
Thinking of the Acts 1:8 locations as concentric circles, when Faith helped the
school across the street, this was definitely their Jerusalem-or immediate
community. Judea would be a more distant geographic area from the church,
perhaps the city-wide projects or planting churches in outlying apartment
complexes or missions elsewhere in Tennessee. Think of Samaria as North
America, so Faith Baptist members traveling to Alaska were reaching their
Samaria. And international locations like Brazil and the Philippines would
correspond to the ends of the earth referenced in Acts 1:8.
For resources to promote a missions mindset at your church visit www.ActsOne8.com.
And remember: good mission projects don't just happen. Following a few
simple guidelines will help make the experience meaningful to the on
mission volunteers as well as the people they serve. Here are fundamentals
every church should consider when planning a mission trip.
• Leadership is the key to success. If the team leader is
not on your church's staff, recruit a volunteer from your membership to be
trained and equipped to lead. To be successful, this person should have a call
to missions, good organizational skills and the ability to work with and
motivate others. The team leader will take primary responsibility for project
logistics, keeping everything on track and maintaining communication with the
• To enlist a mission team, make announcements about
upcoming mission trips and encourage interested folks to sign up by a certain
date. Then conduct an orientation meeting to lay out expectations, logistics
and requirements. First-timers may have questions, so this meeting can go a
long way toward alleviating their anxiety about "the unknown." Also, this is
the time to inform team members about required training, which is best
developed around four areas.
1) Spiritual preparation. A Bible study on the basics of missions
and service can be instructive and inspirational. Prayer and a personal
relationship with Christ are prerequisites to being on mission.
2) Task training. Whether it's how to teach children, how to paint
a house or how to conduct a block party, task training is essential for a
3) Evangelism training. All team members should learn how to share
their faith. Provide opportunities to practice doing this, so they'll feel
comfortable before the beginning of the trip. There's only one gospel message,
but there are a variety of ways to share it. To be an effective witness, learn
about the culture or people group you're trying to reach. Most on
mission Christians have a favorite evangelism tool, whether it's a tract,
witnessing bracelets or a written testimony. Some tools are more appropriate in
certain situations than in others. Choose one that works best for your group
and then practice using it.
4) Hands-on preparation. To provide experience beforehand, work
together on a local project such as your church's VBS. If your mission team
will be doing construction, smaller projects in your community give
participants a chance to learn how to work with tools. Be sure to involve the
• Budgeting boils down to three choices for financing a
mission trip: 1) place the total cost of the project in the church budget; 2)
designate the project as "total cost recovery" and charge sufficient
participant fees to cover all costs; or 3) blend these models together. Many
churches use the blended model with part of the total cost funded by the church
budget, part charged to the participants and part recovered through
sponsorships or fundraisers. This plan has the benefit of requiring serious
commitments from both the participant and the church. To build a mission trip
budget, consider costs such as transportation, lodging, food and ministry
supplies. A free downloadable Volunteer Mobilization Logistics Manual with
budget worksheets and planning checklists is available at www.namb.net/Logistics.
• Implementing a successful mission trip depends on how
closely you work in advance with your project manager/missionary so there are
no surprises when you arrive on site. If possible, key leaders should make a
pre-project visit to the location. Ask the project manager/missionary how your
team can best assist him or her in meeting the goals of the ministry. By
working with that person you can design a schedule to maximize your impact and
complement the established ministry.
Also, missionaries value teams who have high standards of behavior and dress
during the trip. Consider establishing a dress code and covenant for conduct.
Make sure you look at the trip with an eye toward maximizing safety and
minimizing the risk of danger.
• Involve the whole church by holding a commissioning
service before the trip. This will bring into focus the importance of missions
for the entire church and remind volunteers that the body of Christ is sending
them out. When you return, plan a follow-up celebration. This is the perfect
forum for volunteers to share what God accomplished during the mission trip. Be
creative in the presentation-use photographs and video to show church members
what took place.
Today, hundreds of thousands of Southern Baptist volunteers are answering
the call to short-term missions. For many, it's a launching point to a lifetime
of being on mission. Isn't it time you answered the call?
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC