Why you shouldn’t prep for mission trips during your regular gatherings

Effective mission trips require preparation. Preparation is needed to prepare your team for all that awaits it and to enable it to behave effectively as a team.

Given this, when is the best time to hold your mission trip meetings?

If you’re in a setting where your ministry meets regularly, it can be tempting to hold your mission trip meetings during your regular gatherings. After all, these are times when at least some of your students are already gathered together.

Please don’t.

While it might be convenient (for at least for some of your team) to meet during your regular meetings, it’s not ideal.


Because in all likelihood, your mission team roster will not be the same as that of your youth ministry. Instead, it will include a fraction of the people who attend your regular gatherings. It might also include people who never attend those gatherings. For that reason, it makes sense to separate out your preparation from your regular gatherings. This allows you to focus on your mission team during preparation meetings and to invest in your ministry during your regular gatherings. Doing so helps to ensure that those who aren’t participating in your mission trip don’t feel marginalized or as though they're no longer a part of your ministry (which can easily happen if EVERYTHING is suddenly about your mission trip.) 

Additionally, effective mission trip preparation meetings often include things like team-building activities, messing with your team’s food, and Bible study. Because it can be difficult to fit these things into your typical meeting time and space, it’s often easier to hold mission trip preparation meetings at another time. This gives you more freedom to structure meetings in the way that enables you to best prepare your team. 

So, do yourself a favor and designate specific times to hold your mission trip preparation meetings. While it’s another meeting for you, the investment is worth it. Your team will be ready to serve together and your weekly ministry will continue flourishing because those who aren’t going on your summer mission trip will know and understand that their place in it is secure. 


Mission That Matters

To learn more about how to practically prepare your team to do short-term mission trips without long-term harm, check out my book, A Mission That Matters.

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

Now Available!

A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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