What if you went on a missions trip as a family? What if your family partnered with missionaries for a long weekend or week, learning and serving together? A domestic or international trip to experience God at work, in and through your family. Memories to last … well, an eternity.
Many families plan vacations, print matching shirts and create spreadsheets to make the most of the time. All those trips are great but allow me to make a case for including a family missions trip into the mix. Family missions trips are around but not yet commonplace.
Where to begin
Preparation begins with prayer and a discussion. As a family, incorporate the potential of such a trip into family prayer times and dinner discussions. Ask God to lead and guide you as you begin to explore. Contemplate when, where and who. As a family, read stories about what God is doing in potential locations and pray for those who serve there. Learn about the culture, food, traditions and common beliefs about God. Start a conversation with those who serve in this area. Pray about when the trip would have the greatest impact on all family members. Isn’t this discipleship?
Share with others
Let your extended family, congregation and friends join you in praying. Missions trips are to be shared and expand the support network before and during travel. Expanding your circle may open doors to information or resources.
Set aside finances to cover needed expenses. Missions trips are not a credit item but something you save and prepare for long in advance. If you travel internationally, you will need passports and plane tickets. Older children and teens will benefit from investing financially, trusting God to help them contribute and see how He provides. Costs will include housing, food, expenses and enjoying the fun found at your destination.
Study Bible stories together. This ranges from basic discipleship through the study of Scripture to preparation to teach or lead Bible stories if called upon. Pray together and teach each member of the family to pray out loud. Spend time “telling story” as my Hawaiian friends say, communicating the gospel message through a story.
Stay at a mission site. Some mission centers host groups and could serve as your family’s home base. Accommodations are simple and help you focus on your purpose. Meals are often included in the stay, allowing you to try new local foods.
What would you do?
Engage with local congregations, often small, for worship and ministry. Children would play together, each teaching the other new songs, games and language. There may be opportunities for tutoring or more engaged projects determined by your family’s abilities and needs where you travel.
I have had plumbers do minor updates and repairs that had significant impacts. An accountant created a spreadsheet that helped the missionary manage their monthly expenses better. Teachers who tutored and bakers who shared recipes and cooked together. The list goes on.
Finally, enjoy the location! Visit historical locations. Spend a day at the beach or exploring a castle. Shop for souvenirs and eat out in a unique location. Take a million photos and create eternal memories together as Christ-followers.
Beyond the travel
Missions trips are not an end result. The purpose of preparation is broad, not only about a few days away. The experience of serving away from home is a preparation to return home to serve. The assembling of opportunities enhances lifelong spiritual journeys.
Discipleship becomes our spiritual DNA with the desire to transform every area of our lives — impacting our daily life, congregational family, and the world. Sharing this as a family impacts today and lasts for eternity.
My family engaged me in ministry from as early as I can remember. Multiple weekly times spent with our local faith community. I learned about global missions and served alongside my parents locally.
As a teen, I traveled out of state on a missions trip the summer after ninth grade. Many opportunities of service were blended with biblical teaching and worship through the years. In my 30s, I began leading missions trips with regional and local church groups. A trip across the border into Canada expanded missions outside the U.S.
Over the last two decades, I have had the opportunity to travel on missions to multiple countries on multiple continents. The early spiritual DNA came to life. Travel has allowed me to see God in a greater way through each culture and the common denominator of the Holy Spirit.
I also had the great opportunity of hosting my father (in his mid-70s) and sister on missions in the Dominican Republic. It is never too early or late!