Navigating the Intensity of Mission Trips

Scott Nichols
May 17th, 2019

Summer is a time of year when student ministries take a summer mission trip. These trips need hours of prepping. Prepping to make sure all the logistics are in place, the supplies are packed and the students are ready to go be the hands and feet of Jesus, in both local communities and far off parts of the globe. Mission trips can be some of the most life changing programs we have that push students to become more like Jesus. Have you been on a mission trip before? If you have, then you know that they are rewarding, but that they can also be physically, spiritually and emotionally exhausting. So how do we navigate the intensity of these trips? Here are a couple of thoughts.


There is quite a bit of planning that goes into mission trips. You need to pick the place you are going. Travel logistics with airline flights and rental vans need to be arranged. The earlier you can get into planning these, the easier it will be when the day for leaving on the trip approaches. The less you have to do to prepare at the last minute, the better. My group is going to Puerto Rico this summer. We’ve been working the details for this trip for the last eight months. 

Invite Others Into the Process

Delegation is another way to help take the pressure off. Find people you can bring into the planning process and hand pieces to them. It will help lighten the load. Solomon puts it this way in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.” We hosted a huge, tamale making fundraiser for our trip this summer. Several parents offered to help by going shopping for the supplies and precooking all the meat. It was one less thing that I had to be directly involved and another way to give ownership of the trip to others in the group. 

Look After Your Own Health 

In the days leading up to the trip, make sure you are taking care of your own health. It may sound trite, but make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating healthy before you go. If you show up to the trip already drained, it will only make it that much harder for you to accomplish the things you want to accomplish on your trip. 

Rest In God

This may seem like another no brainer, but while on the trip, spend time each day with God. Seek Him. Isaiah 40:31 promised that “… those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not become weary, they will walk and not faint.” Trust that the God who got you there, will be able to take care of all the details of the trip. He will give you the strength to navigate the intensity of the trip. 

Be Flexible 

In my opinion, of all the programs, events and things that we do in student ministry, mission trips are the things that need the most flexibility. We can spend months and months planning, get to our trip location and our whole plan can go out the window. This can make the trip super intense until we can get the changes figured out. We need to go in with an attitude of flexibility. Remember, things can and will change. That’s ok. This is a time to go with the flow, be flexible. 

Scott Nichols

Scott Nichols serves as the Pastor of Student Ministries at CDO Baptist Church in Oro Valley, AZ. He received his B.S. from Portland State, and M.Div from Multnomah Seminary. Scott is married to Sarah and they have four children. Scott is an #avgeek at heart and loves learning about all things aviation and space. Twitter/Instagram @s_mnichols

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.