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Spiritual Growth Resources

  1. For the people you will be serving
  2. For an open heart and flexible attitude
  3. For the mission team you will be traveling with
  4. For God's work to be done
  1. Spend time in the Bible daily
  2. Research the place you will be going. Especially be aware of the spiritual atmosphere in that place
  3. If you will be interacting with people of another religion, be informed about their basic beliefs so you will know how to best communicate the Gospel with them
Solomon writes, “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10, NIV). One might imagine why Solomon wrote this proverb. Was it from personal experience or from watching another struggle chopping wood? Perhaps his father, David, said it to him on a sunny morning in Jerusalem as they worked together on a project. Or maybe someone said it to a servant preparing fuel for the feast. No matter the background, the purpose is clear. Preparing oneself and the tools one uses is important preparation for success. Maybe this is what Abraham Lincoln was thinking when he said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Preparing for a mission trip is not only about gathering information, resources, and people but also about readying our spiritual lives for the task. The basics of spiritual preparation are best summed up in the children’s song about discipleship, “Read your Bible, Pray every day, Pray every day, Pray every day. Read your Bible, Pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” Many of us know this foundational truth and practice what we preach (or sing in this case).

Beyond reading and praying, what are some additional steps we can take toward spiritual preparation for missions?

Examine your own life : Of primary importance is to examine your own life. Are you at a place in your life where you have confessed your sins and are in right relationship with Jesus Christ? Confession and belief are the hallmarks of Christianity. If you have non-believers participating on this trip, don’t miss the opportunity to connect the dots for them on the meaning and purpose of the trip. Who knows, you may win one of the team members to Christ!

Develop a devotional guide : A suggestion that may help with spiritual preparation is to develop a devotional guide for the team to begin prior to departure. Reading, studying, and discussing the same passages of Scripture days and weeks before the trip will give the team common ground from which to grow during their time of service. In addition, the team will enjoy using the information and inspiration they received prior to leaving to begin conversations with each other while serving during the trip. And let’s not forget the important sharing time after the trip. The spiritual truths learned before, during, and after the trip will lead to spiritual maturity.

Some examples of good resources are:

Flippin Missions – a resource guide from LeaderTreks that covers before, during, and after a mission trip and is designed specifically for youth and leaders.

Radical – by David Platt, helps believers see the gospel from a bible perspective rather than an American Christian perspective.

Not a Fan- by Kyle Idleman, reminds us what Jesus demands of a disciple.

Assign prayer partners : Another idea is to assign prayer partners that will pray specifically for individuals and for the goals and objectives of the team. You will be strengthened on your journey knowing that prayers are being offered on your behalf. You may go a step further and ask for around the clock prayer coverage. Your mission destination may well be “to the uttermost” which usually means a different time zone. When you return, be sure to include your prayer partners in the share time. A consideration for spiritual preparation is to research books and authors that specialize in mission participation or more specifically, missions to the people group or country you plan to assist. You will gain valuable spiritual insight on needs and concerns, much more so that any travel book or website. Be sure to pass these on to your prayer partners so that they can pray with wisdom and discernment.

Consult with others : Consulting with church leadership, other believers, and former mission trip participants may yield additional insight for spiritual preparation. The experiences of others are valuable resources to be gleaned in the work of missions. Don’t assume people will volunteer this information. Personal, one-on-one conversations will likely produce the kind of rich content you The key to spiritual preparation is to acknowledge the importance of it and then do something to prepare. Sharpening your spiritual ax will help you develop the skills needed for a successful mission trip.

Conduct a dedication service : Consider conducting a dedication service for the mission team on the Sunday prior to their departure. This allows the church to formally participate in the sending out the group as their missionaries. There should be time for participation of both team members and the congregation in the service. Team members should be challenged to focus on their role as “carriers of the Good New”. The congregation should be challenged to be active participants through the ministry of prayer.

You may want team members to sit together in a designated area toward the front of the church. The theme of the service (including music) should be missions service and commitment. Consider testimonies from one or two team members about how God has been working in their lives to prepare them for service. A responsive reading, led by the pastor, which includes challenges to the team members and the congregation, would be appropriate. Finally, the team may be asked to kneel at the front while church members come by to lay hands on each individuals and offer a quick prayer or words of Christian encouragement.

Sample Commissioning Service

Do you need Bibles for your trip? Click here for some great resources to find Bibles, including Bibles in other languages. 

Morning Prayer Time : We highly recommend that your team meet each morning to begin the day with a short devotional thought and prayer. The team leader may want to designate someone to coordinate this or do it his or herself. Make assignments before the trip so team members can adequately prepare.

Here are some tips on leading a devotional:
  1. Keep it short. Usually, a devotional should last about 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Share about what God has been teaching you.
  3. Share from one Bible verse.
  4. Share one big idea.
  5. Come up with some ways to apply this idea to your audience.
  6. End in prayer.

Source: How to lead a devotional |

Evening Share Time : Each evening the team should get together for a time of sharing. This is a time for team members to share what they see and sense God doing. This sharing time is usually a very meaningful experience for volunteers and can add greatly to their own spiritual growth. Each team member should be encouraged to share. The team leader or designee should act as a facilitator to keep things flowing. Be sensitive that all team members have opportunity to share and that one or two do not dominate the time. If the team is large, consider breaking into smaller groups (5-6) to do this. Beware that, if not monitored, this share time can evolve into a gripe session. We all know that things will not always go as smoothly as we might like on a mission trip. There may be some validity, and even need, in allowing members to express frustrations they are experiencing – either personally or with the group at large. If one is feeling a certain way, it is possible that others may be as well. This can be a time to work out some of these issues so that they do not “fester” during the course of the trip. But the main focus of the time should be on the sharing of how team members have seen God at work during the course of the day. End in a time of prayer.

Missions/Prayer Journal : Encourage your team members to consider keeping a journal as part of their mission experience. While it may seem at the time that events experienced on the field will never be forgotten – they often are. Most people are thankful later on that they took time to record their thoughts about the trip. This may also be helpful when you get back to your church and prepare for a time of debriefing or sharing with your church family about the trip. Record interesting things that you see, unusual experiences, ways that you see God at word, and prayers that are answered.

Dealing With Conflict : Anticipate some measure of conflict within the team. From frustrations over travel snafus to personality conflicts among team members, don’t be surprised at things that arise that could divert your team’s focus from its intended mission. Remind and encourage team members to focus on the purpose of the trip. Try to lead team members to work out differences among themselves first. Then, if needed, issues can be raised and discussed among the team at large. (See above)

Important Spiritual Reminders for all Team Member:
  • You are on this trip to serve Christ; not for your own comfort or enjoyment.
  • Follow your leader. When many adults come together who aren’t used to working together, those with strong personalities will frequently conflict. For those with “Type A” personalities, it’s important to submit yourself to the leadership of your team.
  • Remember that everyone is unique. You’ll be in close quarters all day, every day with people who eat differently, sleep differently, recreate differently, work differently (and so on) than you. Try not to let their quirks “bug” you. Letting petty differences get under your skin will likely be a distraction from the mission at hand.

Once you and your group returns from a mission trip follow-up is necessary. Plan a time to get together as a team to talk about your experience, share stories and photos and share what you have learned about yourself and your Christian walk since your return. Also spend some time talking about how this experience will help you walk closer with Christ and to show Christ’s love to others. You will want to spend some time talking about how this experience could have been better for your group, information to help the sending ministry as well as future endeavors.

You may also want to offer some spiritual growth resources to your participants. Below are a few suggestions.

Flipping Missions is a resource from LeaderTreks that covers spiritual growth before, during and after a mission trip and is designed specifically for youth and leaders. The material can be tailored for other mission trip groups that contain adults and children.

Reentry: Post Trip Journal is another resource from LeaderTreks for after a mission trip specifically for youth and leaders to record how spiritual growth has taken place in their lives. This resource can also be adapted to other type mission groups. The link is found below:

Small Group Life: Mission, offered through Lifeway:

About (Episode 2) Mission:
This is the second Episode in the Small Group Life series. Being "on mission" no longer JUST means occasional trips or life-long commitments to missions work. Today, "missional" is understood in a much broader sense and now includes a lifestyle, a heart for people, and a mind-set in the image of Jesus and His charges to take care of the poor, disenfranchised, and less fortunate everywhere. "Missional" is a way of life.