A short-term mission trip is an exciting, engaging experience in which faith is put into action by partnering with brothers and sisters from different cultures and life experiences.
Mt Pleasant Presbyterian Church of Mt Pleasant, South Carolina, mission trip to LaCeiba, Honduras. Photo by Ed Wagner
Participation in a mission trip offers you and your church group a chance to share your time and talents with mission partners from other countries and other cultures and to learn, worship and serve together.
Equipping for Mission Involvement is the PC(USA) World Mission program that provides resources that will help you and your mission partners to see themselves with new eyes as, together, you cross cultural and spiritual borders. When you return home, we can help you to continue the growth you experienced on your trip in a variety of ways.
Tools for trip leaders
As you prepare and plan for your mission trip experience, find ways to ensure that it is an enriching experience for both you and the community you will be visiting. Use the resources below as you begin your journey in God’s incredible mission.
Planning and leading a mission trip
Doing Short Term Mission Well: Prepare, learn and share – download here or click here for online access Presbyterian Outlook article written by Ellen Sherby, coordinator for Equipping for Mission Involvement.
How do you decide on the destination for a mission trip? – download here Deciding on your mission trip destination is a discernment process that can engage your congregation’s or presbytery’s mission committee and other groups. The questions in this document will help your group in the discernment process of selecting a destination.
Best Practices for Mission Trips – download here Follow these suggestions to ensure your group has a great mission trip experience.
Sample Mission Trip Schedule – download here Use this mission trip schedule template to ensure that your trip offers a good balance between activity and relationship-building; action and reflection; giving and receiving.
Great Mission Trips: Tips for Leaders – download here Use this guide if you are the mission trip leader to help you plan a meaningful and well-organized mission trip.
Doing Good…Says Who? goes deep into best practices for mission, featuring five stories that explore key principles centered on mutual respect and trust. The book includes a discussion guide. Learn more
When God’s People Travel Together – click here A three-volume set, including a leader’s manual, a resource to help participants reflect on their experiences and Bible studies on partnership
Faith in Action, by Stephen Knisely and Gabrielle Beasley – click here A two-volume set for reflection on sustainable mission involvement. Interactive sessions by Gabrielle Beasley offers practical lessons and worksheets for mission education.
Reflection and education about short-term mission
The Power of Empty Hands – Article written by Hunter Farrell, former director of Presbyterian World Mission, while he was serving in Peru – download here
What We Bring With Us: A letter from Doug Orbaker, former mission co-worker in Nicaragua – download here Mission is the life we bring with us when we go to another place to serve, and it is the even richer life that we take back with us when we return.
When Canned Food Drives Are No Longer Enough – download here Presbyterians Today article written by Christine Coy Fohr, a former World Mission consultant for mission leaders.
Find mission trip opportunities
For international mission trips, group leaders are encouraged to contact PC(USA) mission co-workers in the region to seek more information and enter a process of discernment. These partnership facilitators walk alongside groups as they plan, lead and reflect on mission experiences. They can be helpful to you before, during and after your mission trip. For a list of these contacts and the regions in which they work, click here.
For information on national mission opportunities, please click here. ________________________________________
Presbyterian Women Mission Trips Presbyterian Women also organizes regular trips to participate in mission work or learn about the mission needs of a particular region.
Please note that a listing on this Web page does not imply an endorsement of the mission site by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Contacts for Mission Trips and Partnerships
Interested in planning an international mission trip, but don’t know where to start? Want to establish a long-term mission partnership, but would like some guidance? Many of our mission co-workers serve as partnership facilitators, helping to connect US Presbyterians with sites around the world. They may be able to help you as you begin this mission journey!
Where applicable, we’ve included partner site information for your convenience.
Minimum age required for volunteer: 15 years old and above
CCAP Zambia Education Department personnel are experienced in all aspects of arranging a work trip, including local transportation, meals, and accommodation. Many school construction sites are in rural areas. Groups will be assisted by CCAP Zambia Education Dept. personnel to establish a “campsite” at the construction location – perhaps using existing school structures for sleeping areas and dining areas. Cooking will be done outside. Cook, cooking equipment and food supplies can be provided by CCAP Zambia Dept. of Education. Work will be done with assistance from people in the local community. There will be opportunity for Bible studies and worship with community members, for arranging children’s programs, for cultural exchanges, and for evening campfires with singing and story-telling. CCAP Zambia Department of Education personnel will work with group leaders before the trip to define the objectives of the trip, the scope of work and the level of accommodation the group desires.
Minimum age required for volunteer: 15 years old and above
UMAVIDA works with communities affected by the mining industry, supporting them to raise their voice for environmental justice by learning about water contamination, their rights, and the actions they can take to make a change. As a Joining Hands site, UMAVIDA usually offers “Reflection/Action” trips for already-established US presbytery partners, but these are open to anyone. Participants are invited to come and see and experience the first-hand reality of the country through a process of community visits, meetings and faith reflections. Trips do not focus on providing a work/service/learning project, such as building a house, school, etc. Their mission looks to create long-term solutions and change, and uses these visits and exposure to enable the participants to reflect on joint actions that can be taken to address the issues seen.
Maximum number in group: 35 suggested, but negotiable
Minimum age required for volunteer: 14 years old and above preferred
CEDEPCA is an educational institution that contributes to the transformation of lives and contexts by providing training and accompaniment, and by offering spaces for reflection to women and men from diverse Christian traditions, communities and contexts. Intercultural Encounters is a program that designs and facilitates experiences of encounter, reflection, dialogue, and mutual service between people of the United States and Canada with Central American communities in search of a more just, tolerant and equitable world.
Minimum number in group: 7 (fewer permitted for exploratory trips)
Maximum number in group: 18
Minimum age required for volunteer: 13 years old and above
CEPAD trains communities to organize, write project proposals, and learn how to solve their own challenges. It also focuses on agriculture, helping to ensure sufficient food and a healthy diet. Groups focus their time on forging friendships and working together with Nicaraguans to help the needs of the community.
This article – When Canned Food Drives Are No Longer Enough – from Presbyterians Today (2012) can serve as a starting point for congregations who want to do short-term mission trips. More resources, information and tools on short-term mission trips are available here.
Mission is the life we bring with us when we go to another place to serve, and it is the even richer life that we take back with us when we return. This letter from former mission co-worker Doug Orbaker provides context for mission trips. More information, resources and tools for short-term mission trips are… Read more »
Leaders humbly connect us in the Body of Christ, helping all participants in the short-term mission experience to learn from each other, reflect on how God is present in the place being visited, and perhaps to help us think about what the short-term experience will mean in the long-run after we return home. More resources,… Read more »
Use this mission trip schedule template to ensure that your trip offers a good balance between activity and relationship-building; action and reflection; giving and receiving. Find more information, tools and resources for short-term mission trips here.
Young Adult Volunteer applications are due February 1 for international placement in the YAV program. Encourage young people, ages 19 to 30, to apply for a transformational year of service as a YAV. Follow @yavprogram on social media for updates on each YAV site. Help spread the word!
Meeting Jesus—new from Presbyterians Today. Reflections for each day of Lent narrated as first-person accounts from Bible characters who met Jesus during his earthly life and ministry, along with Scripture readings, prayers, and contemporary multimedia artwork. Perfect for congregations, families and individuals.