Ten Great Ways to Plan and Lead a Student Mission Trip

Four years ago, I went on a mission trip to New York City with a group of Acteens (teen girls) from First Baptist Church of Minden, Louisiana! Beyond all the lights, cameras, and action, we quickly realized that the Big Apple was a place with significant needs and ministry opportunities.

With a population size of over eight million people, New York City’s needs were vastly overwhelming, but God is at work, and He has equipped believers to carry out His mission.

As I prepared for this trip, I discovered ten key ways to plan for and lead a student mission trip.

  1. Pray

Always seek God’s guidance and be sure that He is leading you on this trip. Scripture to help prepare your heart is: “Pray without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and “Put on the full armor of God” Ephesians 5:11-13.

  1. Choose a Destination

Begin by examining your network. Do you have a connection to a North American Mission Board or International Mission Board missionary? Has a missionary been sent out from your church? Has a team been on a mission trip where they felt a connection to the people? Check out www.peoplegroups.info to find people groups in your potential place of service. Some unreached people group you desire to reach may have a significant population of their kin here in the United States.

  1. Choose a Project

The most effective short-term mission trip is always in the context of an ongoing, long-term partnership relationship. We see a missions partnership in the book of Philippians.

Mission Partnership models the church body doctrine (unity), offers ownership, and is an expression of being intentional, practical, and strategic. Always seek to be a help and not a hindrance to the missions efforts.

  1. Identify Mission Team Members

Who are the individuals in your church that have expressed and demonstrated a heart for missions? Invite them to a social and share your vision of a mission team that God can use. Set high standards/requirements and stick to them. Show each potential member what is expected of them and construct a covenant. Is everyone ready for teamwork?

  1. Develop a Timeline

Know the result of the trip at the very beginning of planning. Make sure that God is glorified in everything that you do. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (Chapter 2) is an excellent resource to help you pace your trip preparations.

  1. Train Your Team

When training your team, it is always helpful to cover team member testimonies, practical details, packing, working on-site, being flexible, evangelism preparedness, and trip logistics. CARRY ON by Libby Quigg (Chapter 7) explains how this is done.

  1. Involve the Whole Church

Invite the entire church to be involved in this mission trip. We know that all members can pray, some give, and some go. Encourage the congregation to pray, collect supplies, prepare ministry materials, and donate things. Develop or download a 30-day prayer guide and enlist a prayer team while you are gone. You can also have a commissioning service for your team.

  1. Working on the Field

To be most useful to the people that you are trying to reach, always remember to pray continually, have an orientation upon arrival, and stay connected as a mission team. Learn about the culture/language and ask thoughtful questions. Minister to those you meet. Bringing a care package to the missionary or pastor is always sweet.

  1. Cultural Taboos

Each country is different and unique. It is wise to read about the country or people group before you leave home. Understanding national pride, respecting taboos and customs, and not making promises you cannot keep will help you in the long run.

  1. Arriving Back at Home

Arriving back at home can be challenging for any group. Always remember to share your experience with the church and recall how you saw God at work. Taking time to debrief and helping team members readjust to life back at home allows them time to process what took place. One way to stay connected with field personnel is through post-trip follow up.

Help leaders to understand that missions have many components and consists of more than just an annual mission trip or mission project. Focusing only on mission trips without ever focusing on praying for or supporting missions would be detrimental to the church’s overall missions education.

Questions that I ask before going on any mission trip are:

  • Why do I want to go on a mission trip?
  • Do I sense God’s leading in this direction? Are the right doors opening?
  • Am I willing to be stretched physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually?
  • Am I willing to give up my rights regarding comfort to serve others?

Throughout Scripture, we are called to be disciple-makers. In the Bible, some things are mandates. We see Jesus give a commission to believers after His resurrection in Matthew 28:19–20.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Jesus has commanded every believer to take the gospel into all the world. That is where we fit in: to make disciples and share the good news of Jesus.

Face Masks for New Orleans Ministry Sites

With emphasis of personal safety and security continuing for a while, the need for personal face masks is a need by those who work with underserved populations and other ministry. Two of those New Orleans ministries, Baptist Friendship House and Global Maritime Center, are near and dear to our hearts as Louisiana Baptists. Here is a great mission and ministry idea for the women in your church and association.

A good source for patterns and instructions is www.cdc.gov/coronavirus. It includes different patterns and recommendations at this website.


Women, men and children are served by Baptist Friendship House (BFH) ministries. Many of these are homeless and do not have access to facilities for washing and keeping re-usable cloth facemasks clean and sanitary. Kay Bennett, executive director, says they can use many of these face covering and that the face masks made with elastic around the ears are most comfortable. BFH personnel will be giving away numerous facemasks in coming weeks.

  • BFH serves women, men and children – cloth colors and design should be appropriate for all three age groups and both genders.
  • Please mail completed face coverings to: Baptist Friendship House, 813 Elysian Fields Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70117


Philip Vandercook, director of Global Maritime, told me that these will be used as they work with seafarers from the ships and with those who work in the port.

  • They minister to both men and women and the need is great.
  • Filtered face masks are very helpful at this site.
  • Send your completed facemasks to: Global Maritime Center, 3635 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA  70115.

Share how your women are ministering in this way by taking pictures of women sewing or of finished products being mailed and post them on Facebook at Louisiana Baptist Women or Louisiana Baptist’s Missions and Ministry.  Also, take a picture and mail to MISSIONS MOSAIC, 100 Missionary Ridge, Birmingham, AL  35242; or email to mosaic@wmu.org. Be sure to include a brief description of your picture, along with you church/association name and city.