10 Characteristics of a Successful Missionary Trip
Through Jesus, God has called every Catholic to share the Gospel of Christ and help people in need. For some people, this calling is lived out in their neighborhood. For others, spreading the love of Jesus involves taking a short-term or long-term missionary trip to another part of the world to meet specific needs.
Going on a mission trip can be a life-changing event. From meeting the physical needs of communities to sharing the Gospel message, there are many types of missionary work that can make a huge impact on people’s lives. Let’s take a closer look at some characteristics of a successful missionary trip and what you as a missionary can learn from these trips.
Characteristics of a Good Mission Trip
Every mission trip is different, and each has the potential to impact you in a lasting way. Here are 10 characteristics of a good missions trip:
1. Broadening Your World Perspective
Mission trips can help you see the world in a whole new way. Visiting underprivileged communities can give you a newfound and lasting appreciation for your quality of life. You can also get a real feel for the culture by trying new foods, seeing different styles of architecture and getting involved with local celebrations and events.
2. Trusting God
Mission trips teach you to trust Him to meet your needs and help you every step of the way. Throughout your mission trip, you may be unsure how things will work out. When you look back, you’ll see how the Lord had a plan for you from the beginning, and he was the one who connected all the dots.
3. Taking Risks and Having Courage
You’ll learn to trust God by taking risks — even ones that may come at the expense of your comfort or safety. When Jesus gives the Great Commission in Matthew 28, he promises to always be with you as you share the Gospel and help people in need. A mission trip will put you in a position to experience Jesus’ promise in action as you rely on him to have courage and strength in every situation.
4. Displaying Servanthood
It can be easy to think a mission trip is all about you. While it’s true that you’ll receive spiritual blessings as a missionary, a good mission trip will always put other people first. Jesus is the perfect example of humility and servitude, and you should seek to emulate him as you carry out your mission.
5. Learning Flexibility and Patience
You’ll learn from your mission trip that concepts of time and schedules are different in other parts of the world. The culture you’re visiting may have less of an emphasis on strict timing and promptness. Use this as an opportunity to practice patience and remember that God’s timing is perfect.
6. Establishing Meaningful Relationships
A successful mission trip is one where you get to create meaningful, lasting relationships with the people around you. You’ll meet locals whose smiles and personalities stay with you for the rest of your life. You could also establish lifelong friendships with the other missionaries on your team. Mission trips are team efforts, and the new relationships you develop can last a lifetime.
7. Practicing Generosity
One of the most essential characteristics of a good missionary is generosity. From giving your money to the poor to sacrificing your time for someone else’s needs, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to grow in your generosity on a mission trip.
8. Meeting Local Needs
One of the best parts of being a missionary is having the opportunity to meet people’s physical needs. From doing construction work to bringing clean water to a poor community, a good mission trip will have lasting positive impacts on the people you’re ministering to — possibly for generations to come.
9. Sharing the Gospel
Meeting people’s physical needs is an important part of mission trips, but spreading the Gospel of Jesus is the most important activity of all. As stated in John 3:16, Jesus wants to give the gift of eternal life to everyone. A missionary trip could be your chance to share this good news with people who may never hear it otherwise.
10. Building a Stronger Relationship With God
After completing your mission trip, you may feel you have a stronger relationship with Christ. You’ll have practiced many of the above characteristics, and you may have seen God’s hand in your life in a more real way than ever before. A good mission trip will launch you into the next phase of your Catholic walk, feeling closer to God than before you went.
Missions Trip Experiences
Mission trips are powerful experiences that take a lot of effort and perseverance. Many people come back from mission trips and reflect on all the hard work they did, saying they did some of the toughest activities of their lives. Others talk about the people they ministered to and the ones they helped experience saving faith in Christ. Every mission trip has its own incredible stories of hard work and growth, and your mission stories are waiting to be experienced.
Why Mission Trips Are Good
Mission trips give you the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a difference in people’s lives. You’ll meet people from around the world who you may never have met at home. You’ll branch out and try new things. And sometimes, you could even learn something about yourself or see your life in a whole new way.
A mission trip can also help you discover your life calling. Many people go on a mission trip and discover that God is calling them to full-time missionary work. Others return home with newfound vigor for sharing the Gospel and helping people in need. Some come back with a sense of thankfulness and gratitude for what they have. If you go on a mission trip, you’re sure to learn something new about yourself that you’ll carry with you for years to come.
Returning From Mission Trips
Knowing how to explain a mission trip is important after you return home. People will want to hear about your experience. Others who donated may want to know how their money was used to impact lives. Here are some tips to help you share your experience when you get back from your journey:
- Define goals beforehand: Give yourself attainable and Christ-centered goals before embarking on your mission trip. That way you can tell people about your successes instead of feeling frustrated if you were unable to meet lofty goals.
- Journal throughout your mission trip: Journaling is a great way to record the events of your mission trip. Doing this will help you share your experiences when you return home.
- Be ready to talk about your experience: People will be eager to hear about your mission trip. Be ready to talk about it at a moment’s notice, because your stories can impact their lives and bring people closer to God.
Get Involved With Missions by Supporting Catholic World Mission
Mission trips are incredible ways to grow in your relationship with God while making a difference in other people’s lives. However, not everyone has the chance to go to a foreign village and share the Good News of Jesus.
You can get involved with mission work by supporting Catholic World Mission today. Our goal is to spread the Gospel while helping communities around the world experience lasting improvement in their quality of life. By partnering with communities in need, we can make a true impact. Contact us today for more information.
Learn More About Evangelization & Seminarian Formation
Deacon Rick Medina is the Executive Director of Catholic World Mission and oversees the management of all of Catholic World Mission's projects in over 35 countries. He was ordained a deacon of the archdiocese of Atlanta in 2013. He currently serves at All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, and is active in several ministries, including RCIA, baptism preparation, Life Teen, Altar Server group, Grief Share, and Adult Faith Formation.