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Guidelines and Suggestions for Team Leaders

Team Meeting 1-2 Weeks before Departure

Gather your group/family and distribute the journals. Invite someone to read “From the Author” and then review the “Table of Contents” on page 2 and “Using this Journal” on page three. If you have developed a team covenant, write or paste the words of the covenant into your journals. If you haven’t, take time to list some of the promises you need to make to each other before the trip. Go to the pre-trip pages and write the dates for the seven days before departure. Urge each person to take 10-15 minutes each day to complete the pre-trip pages on their own. (You’ll be completing the first page during this orientation meeting.)

Invite everyone to thumb through the pages of the journal, and as they do, point out that there are…

  • 7 pages for the days before departure;
  • 3 daily pages during the mission trip – two that are guided and one “blank screen page” or “doodle page” that is open for whatever they want to put there;
  • 3 pages for writing the story of their experience at the end of the trip;
  • 7 “Back Home” pages to be completed when they return home;
  • Additional pages at the back of the journal to give them a place to collect the names and email addresses of some of the people they will want to stay connected to.

Invite each person to take the next few minutes to complete the first pre-trip journal page on their own (7 days before departure). If you are working with younger children, read and discuss the page together, depending on the child’s level of reading and understanding. After 10 – 15 minutes, choose 2-3 items from the page and invite members to take turns sharing responses. Close the meeting by inviting team members to share the prayers they have written.

Commissioning and Departure

Ask your church staff if your mission team could be commissioned during one of the church worship services prior to your departure date. The commissioning service might include an introduction of your team members, information about what you will be doing and where you will be serving, and a commissioning prayer led by a pastor.

The Day of Departure

Invite parents, spouses, friends, grandparents, youth leaders, neighbors, pastors and anyone interested to gather on the day of departure for the send-off. When all have gathered, thank everyone for their support and ask them for their continued prayer support. Form a prayer circle and invite any who would like to speak a prayer to do so. After the “Amen,” load your vehicle(s) for departure.

On-site Journal Suggestions

It’s important for the members of your group or family to gather every day for debriefing and prayer. Share what you have been learning and experiencing; encourage one another in prayer. Ask the members of your group or family to share what they have written in their journals, either in small groups of 2-3 or with the whole group. This “debriefing time” can minimize the inevitable challenges of conflict, loneliness and homesickness that are often a part of the dynamic of a mission trip. Debriefing also brings unity and provides opportunity for the group to re-connect in prayer and support.

After You Return Home

Invite the members of your team or family to complete “The Story of My Mission Trip” toward the back of each journal. You might be able to do this during your travel home, or you may want to use these pages as a part of the group gathering that needs to happen when you can share pictures and debrief the trip. After each person has had a chance to complete most of the pages of “The Story of My Mission Trip,” invite members of your team to talk about some of their experiences. If the group is large, some of this sharing might be best in small groups of 2-3; some of the sharing can happen with the whole group.

If your group or family has been given the opportunity to give a report to your church, this debriefing meeting can also be a time to plan and prepare. Remember to encourage your team to complete the 7 back home pages of the journal if they have not done so already.