Questions That Will Help You Plan A Mission Trip

Youth Specialties
October 19th, 2014

We are so fortunate to know youth workers like Coby Cagle that are doing great work in youth ministry and are willing to share guest blog posts like the one below.  

Grateful for the original photo by Carasc6.

Even though summer just ended, it’s already time to start planning for next summer’s mission trip. Poor planning can turn a sweet mission trip sour very quickly. To help you get started on the right track, I’ve compiled a list of questions that you should answer in order to plan a mission trip. (Need more guidance? Try reading my previous post HERE on the necessity of cultivating a healthy mission trip purpose and posture before you start on these questions.)

1. Where are we going?

In his book The Monkey and the Fish, Dave Gibbons asks three questions that I think can be used to help answer this question. Where is Nazareth (i.e. Where are the marginalized?)? Where is my pain? What’s in my hand? If you choose to use an organization to organize your trip for you, skip to question 7, How much should I charge?

2. How will we get there?

Check your church’s insurance policy to confirm the type of vehicles you can drive and the age requirement of drivers. When traveling with large groups, research restroom stops that can handle the traffic. Also, ensure that each van has a small first aid kit and a fire extinguisher.

3. Where will we sleep and shower?

Check with area churches to see if your kids can sleep on the floor for free. Ensure that the building has adequate arrangements for co-ed groups. If the building doesn’t have a shower facility, find a local community center or public pool.

4. What will we eat?

Find a volunteer to coordinate the meals. Make sure you have two snacks scheduled in addition to the standard meals. If you don’t have a kitchen, consider providing continental breakfasts, sack lunches, and alternate going out for dinner with meals you can grill at a park. I use the food planning chart from Youth Specialties to help plan portions.

5. What will I teach?

Your programming will be birthed out of your purpose, your posture (again, see my last post HERE ) and your responses to Dave Gibbons’ questions. Ensure that the participants are learning about the context in which they are serving in addition to the biblical themes for the week.

6. What will we do?

Coordinate work projects with local agencies that are addressing the needs of “Nazareth” in a healthy manner.

7. How much should I charge?

Try using the spreadsheet I use to determine how much I need to charge per student (grab it HERE).

8. What leaders will attend?

I try to have a 1 to 7, adult to kid ratio on my trips. Prepare your leaders mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the trip.

9. How will you promote the trip?

Start visioning for your trip 15 months in advance. Announce the trip as soon as the previous one is completed and keep marketing it during fall programming. Start the registration process in January or February to ensure that you have enough time to raise funds.

10. What else do I need?

Make sure you have a large medical kit and a person on the trip who can administer medications. The form that I use (grab it HERE) gives permission and instructions on medications. Tell a handful a people to take plenty of photos. Finally, make sure you fill out a post-event form so you can learn from the experience (view mine HERE).

The good folks at FPC San Antonio gave me permission to share an excellent event planning worksheet that they created. I use it to help my interns plan events. It provides structure around many of these questions. Check it out HERE!

Just to make sure you didn't miss any of the documents I mentioned above, here's a quick review of those four again:

– Mission Trip Budgeting Example – CLICK HERE
– Medication Permission form – CLICK HERE
– Post Event Recap Form – CLICK HERE
– Event Planning Form – CLICK HERE


Coby Cagle lives with his wife and two kids in Seattle, WA. He is the Youth Pastor at Quest Church and you can follow his meanderings on faith, family, and life at caglejourney.blogspot.com/.

Youth Specialties

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.