There is much debate on who should go on a missions trip and what type of mission trips are the most effective. However, before you jump into a missions trip, it's important that you ask yourself a few important questions. Some people are called to be missionaries, while others are not. To make sure you're doing what God wants you to do, verses doing what people tell you to do, it's important that you examine your heart and ask if you should go on this missions trip.
Am I Called to Missions?
Especially when you look at a long-term missions trip, it's important that you first examine your heart to make sure that you're actually called to do it. Despite what we're often told in church, not everyone is called to travel the world being missionaries. Some of us are called to do things closer to home such as being church leaders, doing outreach to the community, business administration, and more. Some of us, though, are only called for one specific missions trip. Some are called to teach locally, while others are called to build churches in underdeveloped countries. We all are created for unique purposes, and there nothing wrong with saying you're not meant for missions. There are all kinds of ways of bringing the Gospel to the world. However, sometimes God wants you to experience some portions of missions, so examine your heart closely.
What are My True Reasons for Going?
When asking yourself if you should be going on a missions trip, there are all kinds of reasons to go. You may have a heart for teaching young children or restoring dilapidated old buildings. You may have a heart to feed the starving or distribute Bibles. However, if your reasons are self-centered rather than God-centered, you should not be going on the trip. If you want to go to be a tourist, that's not God-centered. If you are going so that you get all kinds of kudos and accolades by your friends and family, that's not God-centered. Missionaries do not go on missions for the glory of anyone but God. They do not look for kudos from anyone. They do their work to please God. If your reasons have more to do with you than God, missions are probably not for you. Again, this is why it's so important to examine your heart.
Am I Willing to Work?
Missions are not easy work. They often involve long hours and hard work. Even if your mission involves something like teaching English to non-English speakers, your days will probably by long. If you're building churches or bringing food to the poor, there is no slacking off. These people all need you, and the work can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining. If you're not willing to work hard for these people and for God, you probably shouldn't go. People who are called to missions never feel like it's work. God gives them the energy to keep going, and it's more pleasurable than anything. If you're lazy or feel like the work is more of a burden than anything, you're not only going to have a miserable time, but you may end up making life harder for those called to missions work. Yet another reason to truly examine why you're wanting to go on this missions trip.
Am I Willing to Go Without?
There is nothing worse on a missions trip than a complainer. Many missions trips go to places where indoor plumbing is nonexistent. Others go where there is a huge cultural difference from what we're used to. The food may be weird. The people may not be understanding. You may be sleeping on the floor in some places. Most of us are used to our creature comforts, so if you're going to go on a missions trip, you may have to learn to be without those comforts. If you're a person in need of indoor plumbing, a comfortable bed, and other modern privileges, you should think twice about if this missions trip is for you. It doesn't mean there isn't a mission trip out there for you, but make sure it's the one that works for you.
Where is My Heart?
If you're going to be on a missions trip, make sure your heart is in it. You should feel the burden of the mission on you. You should want to make the world where you're going a little better. Your heart in all of this matters. God places burdens on our heart for where He wants us to be. If your heart isn't in the trip, it's not the right one for you. The mission should be pulling on you and come from a servant's heart.
Is This the Right Mission for Me?
Every person called to a Christian mission trip feels the pull of the mission, but we have to make sure we're doing the right missions trip. Some people are called to short-term missions, where they go somewhere to be a missionary for a short period of time (a week or a month). For teens, these are the types of trips that most of you will experience during your spring or summer breaks. However, others may find short-term experiences lacking, and it could be because they are called to go for longer periods of time. Some people are called to give their entire lives to missions and end up somewhere for years.
Is This the Right Group?
Knowing whether or not you should go on a Christian missions trip also has to do with the group you're joining. Sometimes the idea of going on the trip is great, but then you find that the group isn't quite right for the trip or the job to be done. Make sure you're joining the right group for your mission.
Are You Prepared to Live with the Weight Forever
When you go on a missions trip you don't come back the same. Ever. The people you go to work with will change you. What you see will become a burden on your heart. You need to understand that they will always be a weight for you, and you need to be prepared to deal with that burden for the rest of your life. It also means you should be prepared to not give up on the people you worked with just because you're back home. Sure, you may have helped build a portion of the church, but are you willing to return or do do some fundraising at home to help them? Are you willing to continue collecting needed materials at home for them? Missions work does not end the day you get on the airplane to come home. It stays on your heart no matter where you are.