I was reading Tim’s blog the other day, and he said that he had never done a missions trip with a missions organization.
I think Tim gives some valid points about not using a missions organization, and I also think there are some good points for using a missions organization to organize your mission trip.
I’ve had the chance to lead countless short term teams during our time in Mexico (and before), so here are my thoughts on the subject.
Advantages of Taking a Missions Trip with a Missions Organization
- Lasting ministry by partnering with someone who’s “on the ground.” I know you can do this on your own, if you have the right contacts, but missions organizations spend a lot of time developing relationships with the national ministries with whom you’ll be working, allowing your two week ministry to have a lasting impact with less work for you.
- Short term trip fits into a long term strategy. Two weeks in a foreign country will do more for your students than it will for the local ministry. But, we should expect our time on a mission trip to play a part in a longer-term strategy. That’s where a missions organization comes into play.
Our strategy with YMI is to allow short term teams (called Quest Teams) to model youth ministry so that the local churches will invite us to train youth workers for their churches.
- Safety from working with an organization that knows the territory. The missions organization can help take care of insurance and help alleviate other safety issues that you might not be aware of in the region where you are going.
- Administration hassles are handled by someone else, giving you more time to minister to your students. I’m usually the guy at the missions organization doing most of the ground work such as keeping track of finances, deciding where to get food, details about lodging, and many, many other details. The youth pastor definitely gets to give his opinion and input, but he doesn’t have to worry about that stuff because the missions organization takes care of it for him.
- Quality experiences for all involved. This can happen if you plan your own mission experience or if you go with an organization. The point is to be involved in missions and give students an experience with missions that will impact them for eternity.
We are open to having groups come work with us in Mexico. If you are interested in bringing a group to Mexico to work with us, contact us or YMI’s home office.
(image by: JPhilipson on Flickr)
I should probably note that we always partner with a missionary we know in that area. We plan the entire trip with them in order to serve them and enhance their ministry and the community in which they live. So we do have that long-term relationship built with someone “on the ground” and someone who knows the territory. You’re totally right about the administration hassles, though. It is a LOT of work to plan the trip yourself. Sometimes that task alone is enough reason to never do a missions trip on your own.
Tim’s clarification there was very helpful. I think that one way or another it’s important to partner with someone with experience in the area. Essentially, then, he is working with a mission agency (unless, of course, this is a totally independent missionary, or totally church sponsored, although you could say many of those churches have a “mission agency”).
There are tremendous advantages to working with a mission agency, assuming you pick the right one and do other things right (example, be sure you work with the agency to tailor the trip to your youth).
For example, the long term, multi-generational experience and goals of a mission agency are a huge benefit. If they can help with training, they can provide experience and insight that is truly invaluable. They can help you connect with the big picture on the field, just as you can connect them to the realities in your church and in your country.
There’s also the additional accountability that is an advantage. I’ve seen groups going on their own that really miss out because they cut corners in the wrong places, for example.
You also have a chance to connect with something bigger that may lead to more diverse ministry opportunities for people in your group in the future.
@Tim I knew you did that. I included it because I know how important it is to be involved in something that is part of a larger ministry.
I think your points are valid and in no way am I against what you said in your post (you probably understand that already).
I was also going to include another point about smaller churches not having the ability to do all the planning necessary to pull off their own mission trip.
In fact, what we do at YMI is sort of a hybrid. We don’t have a pre-packaged mission trip that you sign up for. We have to taylor it based on our needs at the time and the abilities of the group that is coming.
@ Dennis: Oh yeah, totally understand. I just didn’t clarify those things too well on my blog post, that’s all. Thanks for pointing it out!
Hey! Nice photo 🙂 Glad it could be used in this capacity, great post!