You're Back From A Short-Term Mission Trip, Now What?

By Mike Pettengill, Aug 4, 2016

The summer mission season is over and you just came back from your first (or 21st) mission trip. You are on a huge post-mission trip high. Your closeness to God, your focus on the Great Commission, and your dedication to sharing God’s mercy are at an elevated level. Now what? Most short-term mission trips result in an elevated enthusiasm for missions, but then life happens. Day-to-day life again becomes your reality and before you know it, you’ve stopped thinking about missions.

This is an all too common post-missions experience. One of the great benefits of short-term mission trips is the heightened focus on global evangelism that occurs in you, your peers, and your church. Don’t let that slip away. Take advantage of your immediate passion to make missions a fixture in your life and the life of your church.

Here are a few recommendations how you can turn that temporary post-mission trip high into a life-altering, God-honoring experience:

Take the ministry you just served before the Lord, daily. Keep the full-time missionaries and nationals you met in your prayers. Pray for the people who joined you from your church and ask God to create a greater passion for missions in them. Ask God to keep your heart focused on missions and seek His will for your next step.

Tell your friends about your experience. Get others in your church and your social circle excited about missions. Post pictures, videos, and blogs on social media. Let others know how you saw God working. Share your amazing experience of how you learned God is being glorified in other cultures. Ask your church leadership if you can make a post-mission trip presentation in front of the congregation.

Care for missionaries. These obedient servants are some of the most silent suffering Christians in existence. Serve the missionaries you appreciate. Email or call them periodically. Drop them a quick note letting them know your church prayed for them today. Remember their anniversaries and kids’ birthdays. Send them e-books or electronic gift cards from Amazon or iTunes. Ask them how you can serve and care for their personal needs.

Contribute sacrificially to a missionary or ministry. Missions doesn’t happen without money. Finances are needed to make missions work happen. Become a monthly supporter of missionaries doing ministry you support or in places you are impassioned about. God has called some to go and some to support, but He has called all of us to participate in missions. Maybe you have learned that going on mission trips is not for you. If you are not a goer, then become a sender.

There are thousands of books on missions. Consult your pastor or the missionaries you just served with about what missions biographies or missions theology books you should read. Learn about what Scripture says about missions. Read about missionary heroes from the past and learn about their obedience, struggles, and service. Dive into modern missions blogs maintained by missionaries currently on the field. Learn what it really takes to be a full-time, cross-cultural servant.

Today, most missionaries utilize blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, YouTube or other forms of electronic media. It is easier than ever to follow the regular activity of your new missions friends or the ministry you just served. Sign up to receive missionary prayer letters via email. Many missionaries write about both the amazing and mundane. They post about the joys and struggles. Social media has been an incredible benefit to missions in the past 10 years. Almost everywhere in the world missionaries have access to the internet and are daily sharing their experiences to bring greater glory to the Lord.

Plan your next short-term mission trip. Whether you go to serve in the same ministry or to another country, just go. Sign up for your next mission trip right away. Put it on your calendar. Make annual mission trips a priority for your family and your church. The more direct exposure you have to missions the better your understanding will be about God’s passion for the lost. Now that you are experienced in missions ask your church leadership if you can organize and lead the next mission trip.

Prayerfully discern if God is calling you to a longer-term commitment to the mission field. Most full-time missionaries I know received their initial heart for missions on a short-term mission trip. You may have just met your first missionaries. You now know that missionaries are not super Christians, they are simply those willing to accept the call. Does God want you to take more short-term mission trips, support missionaries, or move to the mission field? Ask Him to make the answer clear to you.

Not every church is involved in missions and very few Christians have ever participated in or supported missions. If you have just returned from a short-term mission trip, you have more experience in missions than most people in your life. Use your experience and your newfound passion for God’s Great Commission to expand missions involvement in your family and in your church. Become zealous about reaching the lost through missions, because God is zealous about reaching the lost through missions.

Mike Pettengill has served with MTW in Honduras and Equatorial Guinea. He is now the director of MTW’s West Coast office.


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