At the end of March our church sent out our first family based team on a mission experience in St. Louis. This was an experiment and I am so excited to say with no hesitation that families serving together on mission trips is not a good idea, it’s a great idea! We have been thinking about this process for about 4 years so I hope you can get there quicker than we did as a church. We really believed these kind of experiences could work so we waited until the right time to make them a reality.
Here are a few ways to make family centered mission experiences work…
- Connect your missions and family ministry teams to make experiences happen // our mission and family teams worked together to make this a reality! Collaboration made all the difference.
- Partner with a church within a “drivable” distance // this just keeps the cost WAY DOWN!
- Set boundaries on the age of kids // make sure kids are in 2nd grade or older just for team focus.
- Keep teams smaller // smaller teams lead to deeper relationships and ensure everyone has a role to play.
- Plan projects that significantly benefit the partner church // work on projects that really advance the church your partnering with.
- Balance serving and playing // work hard and have some time to play hard and make memories as a family.
- Find a creative housing situation // there is something cool about being uncomfortable on a mission trip. Partner with a local church and sleep cheaper on the floor!! It really does make a difference.
- Keep the cost down // help families by keeping the cost at an affordable price.
- Eat meals as a group // meal time is bonding time!
- Encourage families to travel together in their car // families bringing cars just brings flexibility to the team. Parents can also have more time with their kids with car time included.
- Set up family debrief times // process together as a group each day.
- Encourage families to work hard…together! // push families to work hard and unite as a family team.
We know that parents and kids serving together is a different format on a mission trip. We also know that it can be a massive spiritual experience for families. Plan one and see how it all fits together!