Stories abound of people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by volunteer mission trips. Many career missionaries are serving today thanks to their earlier involvement with a short term team.
Yes, the nature of the mission trip itself is impactful—leaving one’s comfort zone, stepping out in faith, ministering cross-culturally, and so on. But what if mission trip leaders were more intentional in using their trips to grow people? What if they saw it as an extension of their call to “make disciples,” not just overseas but also among their team members? Could the long-term impact of these trips be even greater? Most likely, the answer is yes.
In Robert Coleman’s book The Master Plan of Evangelism Jesus’ methods in making disciples are outlined. The book, originally written in 1963, has been reprinted and updated numerous times. It has impacted many people over the years, and is quoted in 100 books currently for sale on Amazon. In it, Coleman shows eight things that Jesus did to model disciple making: selection, association, consecration, impartation, demonstration, delegation, supervision and reproduction.
What if those same eight elements were done in conjunction with volunteer mission trips? With these components, the trip could easily become one of the most effective discipleship tools available.
They key, however, is being intentional. Let’s face it: there is a lot that goes into running a mission trip. Everything from recruiting a team, planning logistics, training participants, preparing national workers, budgeting, and the list goes on. Being an intentional disciple maker may not fall high on the list—but it should. Incorporating Coleman’s eight elements into your next trip can be done with a little forethought ahead of time and some focus during the trip.