Promoting Mission Trips

April 2022

By Tory Ruark, COO, Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission

More than just filling a team

I admit, one of my favorite places to get a burger is Red Robin! My go-to burger there is the Royal Burger. It’s your typical hamburger with lettuce, tomato, and cheese, but it also has bacon and a fried egg. It’s delicious! But it’s also $13.89! So, most of the time I find myself at McDonald’s ordering a McDouble or McChicken off the value menu for about $2. Now, let me be clear—I don’t expect them to be the same or cost the same! McDonald’s and Red Robin have positioned themselves to create very different expectations and those expectations influence my behavior.

The way that we promote our mission trips is really important. We must have more in mind than just filling a team so we can travel. Our promotion of a trip opportunity is the first impression we make, and we often set expectations in our team members that will shape the whole trip. What expectations are you setting with the way you promote trips? And what’s the outcome of these expectations? Promoting a trip is more than just recruiting team members—it’s key to a mission trip that honors God, honors the host, and honors those they’re serving!

The Standards say trips should be promoted truthfully with a primary focus on those we’re serving. A trip ought to be mutually designed by ensuring the number, skills, and even demographics of the participants match the purpose of the trip, and that both teams and hosts need to be able to implement their part of the plan.

Here are some things to consider as you promote your next mission trip:

1 – How are you presenting your partners, host, or hosting community? As poor people who need saving? As leaders to serve and support? As leaders in need of your resources?

2 – To what motivations are you appealing? Adventure seeking? Vacation? American saviorism? Pity? Service of others?

3 – Are you promoting the purpose of the trip accurately? Is it communication task-oriented? If so, how will this shape the expectations of the team members?

4 – Are you promoting the full commitment that applicants are making? Do they know the expectations regarding to raising funds, attending training, post-trip meetings, and even the risks they are accepting by going on the trip?

Hopefully these ideas will help you fill teams with the right people with the right expectations. As you refine your promotion of teams, you may find yourself promoting smaller teams or even fewer teams. But you may also find that your promotion is more compelling and leads to more dynamic trips and more interested participants!