In our article series “Redeeming Short-Term Trips,” we lay out some principles for doing short-term trips with intelligence and effectiveness. One of those principles is to tier the short-term trips you take. This is done by creating trip opportunities that match people’s maturity, skills, and comprehension of global missions values to the right type of trip.
Trips that require more time, energy, and resources necessitate different qualifications for those who participate in them.
If you’re reading this article, I imagine you would agree that you would like every member of your church to have a cross-cultural experience. But you also know, from experience, that the cost in time, energy, and resources varies for different trips, and more time, energy, and resources necessitates different qualifications for those who participate in them.
If a doctor who went on some mission trips in college, has read books like Toxic Charity or When Helping Hurts, and has finished their degree is committed to a partnership overseas, it makes sense for them to do a two-week trip to inner Zambia for medical work. For the person that is new to your church and desires to come back with a better Instagram profile picture, something closer, shorter, and less expensive might be in order.
An entry-level trip should be:
In a similar time zone so that:
The cost of travel isn’t too high.
Jet lag isn’t as much of an issue when landing in the destination.
The time commitment can be a little lower.
With partners who enjoy hosting trips. Some partners host trips because they feel like they have to; some do it because they love it. Find the ones who love it for entry-level trips.
To areas of the world where the cultural gap isn’t too high.
The goal of these trips should be to expose members to cross-cultural ministry first and to accomplish something second.
Entry-Level Trip Providers
There are groups that specialize in providing entry-level short-term trips. Here is a list with a basic description of the trips they offer:
Engage Global - Located in Minneapolis, MN, Engage Global provides an opportunity to take a mini-Perspectives class and engage in ministry to the largest Somali and Hmong populations in the U.S.
Global Gates - Global Gates focuses on reaching the unreached through Global Gateway Cities. They are located currently in: New York City, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Toronto, Houston, and San Francisco. They provide seven- to ten-day trips for groups wanting entry-level experiences.
North American Mission Board, Send Relief Trips - For those connected with the Southern Baptist Convention, NAMB provides short-term trip experiences all over North America to provide disaster relief and engage in cross-cultural evangelism. The specific opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism take place in Atlanta, Denver, and the Pine Ridge Native American reservation.
There are many more opportunities and groups out there that provide opportunities for entry-level trips. We’d love for you to post in the comments other organizations that offer great, entry-level short-term trip experiences.
Mike Ironside is the International Program Manager for Reliant Mission. Prior to that Mike was the Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa, for eight years, where he got to experience the ins and outs of being a sending church. He served on staff with Cornerstone 2006 to 2022 in varying roles–from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for two years. Mike is the Director of Content for the Upstream Collective. Mike, his wife, Emily, and their four kids continue to live in Ames, IA, and serve at Cornerstone.