Church Plants and Volunteer Mission Teams, Part 1
Mission Trips can be powerful tools for growth of individuals & churches. As a church planter I have considered every mission team as a force multiplier, multiplying the impact of our churches outreach in the community. However, they can also be a drain on a church plant &/or planter if proper planning, communication, & strategy development haven’t gone into the trip.
In the next two post I want to talk about some tips for producing win-wins out of Mission Trips to help local church plants. Today, rules of thumbs for Church Planters. Tomorrow, rules of thumb for churches going on a trip to help a church plant.
Five Rules of Thumb for Church Planters working with Volunteer Mission Teams:
1. Invite Others to join you on your mission to reach that community.
If God has called you to do something like plant a church, He’s most likely called others as well. He wants to call people from outside your context to be a part of your mission to reach your community. Start with churches that you have relationships with & invite them to consider supporting you through prayer, financially, OR by taking a mission trip to help you with outreach. There may be times when you help them, more than they help you. That’s part of having a kingdom view of your church plants place in history.
2. Ask for a Pre-Visit from a leader.
By far, the most productive mission teams always send an advance team to plan & prepare. That may look like a 1-2 person team several months before or a small team several days before the rest. As you’re planning for outside mission teams, always ask for a advance team of some kind to prepare the way. And the larger the group, the more necessary this will be.
3. Stay away from back to back groups. Unless you have a F-T Staff.
As a church planter, time for the important work of rest & follow up is always squeezed. You’ll need a week to recover & follow-up properly between teams. Unless you have a full-time staff taking care of details, then plan for at least 3-5 days between teams.
4. Set your calendar & strategy early.
Set your calendar early, so that when mission groups call, you know what times you have available & can receive teams & you know what you need done to grow your church at this stage in history. This will save you from an exhausting spring or summer that leaves you feeling that you didn’t accomplish anything toward the planting of your church.
5. Plan for follow-up.
Part of a great mission trip experience for a church is seeing the impact they had on you & your mission. Send thank you notes, send pics of the trip or the results, if they’ve promoted an event for you that they didn’t get to stay in town for. Send videos as you grow, so that they can feel like they’re a continued part. And invite them back.
Some of our best friends & partners in ministry are people that came on a mission trip to help our church plant. Some of them are now planting churches themselves. The investment in each other & relationship built between planter, plant, & church during mission trips is unique. Follow these rules of thumb for a great experience.
Tomorrow we’ll turn to some things churches taking a trip to help a church plant will need to remember to have the greatest impact.