Did you know that hundreds of short-term teams allow (or are even created entirely for) families to serve together? Try a search on http://www.shorttermmissions.com/search. Then, refine the results by checking the box “Families” (under “Participant & Group”). That will limit your search to opportunities that allow a whole family to participate.
Groups that offer trips that are especially family-friendly include:
- Adventures in Missions (U.S. and international destinations)
- World Servants (U.S. and international destinations)
- In Motion Ministries (U.S. and international destinations)
- e3 Partners (international destinations) See Legacy.
- Jesus Film Mission Trips (international destinations)
- People for Missions (Guatemala)
- The Pittsburgh Project (serving in the U.S.)
- Mission Discovery (U.S. and international destinations)
- Youth With a Mission, Perth Australia Base (international destinations; longer program)
- Go Be Love International
(U.S. and international destinations)
2. Explore whether you should join a trip already planned or create a more customized experience.
Some short-term mission programs and church-based teams will respond positively when you ask if you can bring your whole family. Why not? They may see you as adding maturity and stability. But be certain you ask a lot of questions, know what to expect, and can be confident it’s a good fit for you and your family as well. Unmet needs and unspoken expectations can produce much stress and conflict.
Perhaps the best thing to do is to take your family out apart from a larger team. Going “on your own” takes some additional preparation, but also increases freedom and flexibility. Sometimes it’s much easier. Why not contact a missionary family or ministry you know and ask if you can visit? Get to know them, serve and care for them, and learn to see life through their eyes. Be an encouragement rather than a drain on their resources. Maybe you can help with a project that could use your expertise or just a few more pairs of hands. If everyone brings a servant heart and appropriate expectations, your visit can bless both your family and those who receive you.
Thinking about going overseas long-term? A family mission trip is a way to try things out. It will allow you to experience things that going separately will not. As you look ahead, see the following posts on our sister site, AskaMissionary.com:
- Can a couple with small children make it to the field?
- How can I prepare my children for moving to the mission field?
Whether you join a ministry that caters to families, fold your family into an intergenerational mission team, or design a mission trip on your own, good preparation can help you thrive and get the most out of your family mission experience. A few resources to help you:
- Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short-term Missions for your Whole Family (book)
- Children and Short-term Mission (collection of Christianity Today articles for purchase)
Editor’s Note: See also Taking the Kids, and, from the International Mission Board, Family Mission Trips: Why Should Take Your Kids Overseas and from our Go Serve Love blog, 8 ways to help family flourish overseas.
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