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9 super-practical ideas to get people excited before, during, and after mission trips.

I've heard it said, "If you have a clear vision, you know you will find the right strategy...Without a clear vision, no amount of effort will fix the vision." We're confident your mission and vision is clear and your leadership is excellent, which means if your teams are struggling in this area, then we need look at how equipped they are to carry your vision forward.

Are people excited about mission trips? 

There are some great vision and mission statements out there. Here are a few statements from organizations and churches we work with: 

  • North Point Community Church: Life is complicated. You want to get it right. We want to help!
  • Samaritan's Purse: Helping in Jesus' Name
  • InterVarsity: a vibrant campus ministry that establishes and advances witnessing communities of students and faculty.

Who can't get excited about these missions right? 

Whether it be medical mission trips or short-term missions at church, so often us leaders feel the burden to push our vision and mission forward yet we forget our members are catalysts of our vision for the next mission trip.

How can we get (and keep) our teams and are people excited and sharing mission trips? 

My guess is, you're probably already doing some of these. And, this list isn't exhaustive by any means. I hope the ideas here will make you think of other ideas you can do to get your people on fire for missions. Note: if you're already doing some of these things on the list, great, make sure you're doing them well! 

Here are nine (9) practical ways to get people excited about mission trips:

  1. Place on website: Make sure your vision is front and center on your website but also make sure it’s presented in a way that invites people into that vision. Cherry Hills Community Church in Colorado knows a thing or two about communicating the missional vision using their website.

    Protip: make sure your mission and vision are on your homepage. We see so many churches and organizations "hide their light under a bushel" by placing their vision for missions on the "about us" page or some other secondary or later page on their website. Put it from and center! 

  2. Begin meetings with your vision: Don’t assume everyone has the vision memorized or that it’s top of their minds. It’s good to come back to this over and over again so that the “main things remains the main thing." When possible, highlight actions on your team from the last week that capture the spirit of your vision.

  3. T-Shirts: Print shirts for your team members that capture the tag line of your vision so people are literally walking around with your vision or next mission trip by name. Shirts are a great bonding gift for your team and a great keepsake after the trip. Double win. 

  4. Start your short-term trips with the vision: Train your team leaders to bring the vision to light for each meeting, each morning, each debrief and to keep this in front of the team. Imagine before every meeting about a short-term missions trip, the leader starting with reciting the very reason you're gathering in the first place. Powerful. 

  5. Refine your vision to a one-sentence summary: Do a spot test and see how many on your immediate team know your vision. Probably not many. Make sure your vision has been simplified to its simplest version so it is easier to recall.

  6. Practice: Personally and with your team, practice reciting your vision. Do spot checks to see how well people are remembering this. Provide small rewards to those that get it right.

  7. Place your vision on your business cards: That’s right, once you have it down to one line, get those nice business cards double-sided and print your vision right on the back of the card.

  8. Place your vision in your email signature line: Now that you have it simplified then make sure to add it to your email signature.

  9. The story of your social media: Make sure every social media post is capturing your vision in its heart. 

You’ve probably noticed we have a broad definition for teams. Teams might be your staff, trip leaders, general participants, but also donors, advocates, and colleagues. Whoever you place into this category, you have a responsibility to equip them to carry your vision and promote it and any trips and stories.

Stop thinking it’s your role to tell everyone about your vision and start equipping your team to carry this vision forward. Remember, a shared vision is always more powerful than the perfect vision. 

For those of you with plenty of people to serve; great, you'll have that many more energized people on your team. For those who tell us they need more people on board for missions, do these things to generate some buzz and excitement for missions. 

Action: Select at least one idea from above and see if you can implement in the next 30 days. Need help? You know where to find us!

This is just one strategy of five (5) we have for doubling your impact. Download all five (5) strategies you can implement immediately that will double your missions impact.


This post is written by Will Rogers. Will is the Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceReef.

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7 Questions You Should Be Asking

7 Questions You Should Be Asking

Leading your church or organization into adopting a new technology, no matter how awesome it is, can be daunting.  If you are like many, you are probably concerned about making a wise choice that will reflect well on you, your leadership, and your church/organization.

We understand and want to guide you to the best solution, even if it is not ServiceReef (seriously!).  Our heart has always been to help guide organizations to increased Kingdom impact.  There are a few tools out there created by folks with good hearts and intentions.  Deciphering which is best for you can be a challenge.  Here are a few key questions to be asking as you evaluate any new technology.  Please note: Since this is a pretty intensive topic, you can also check out our guide for Choosing a Technology (coming in Fall 2019) which will help walk you through how to evaluate options in more detail.


Who are my key stakeholders?

Before you get too far in the decision process, make sure you have a good understanding of your internal teams and who might be impacted by new software.Based on their role, their questions will differ, but understanding their perspective on the process now will help streamline adoption later.Make sure you present the current problem you are looking to solve along with any benefits of a “change” with each stakeholder.That allows them to understand the gains you are looking to accomplish and help them feel a part of the solution that you choose.

Here are a couple of quick examples…

  • Who will make the actual purchase decision?  If this is you or your boss, just make sure they are looped in early so you have a good understanding of what goals they are attempting to achieve and are aware of the “why” behind your proposed solution.If you need some assistance, check out this quick overview of Getting Your Boss on Board
  • Are there any financial flow decisions?  We are all pressed for time and that is especially true of your financial folks.Their primary concerns are typically around Security and Time Management.Managing “another flow” of donations creates a fear that it will add a lot of time to their schedules.Likely, this is not going to change anything they are doing currently and might even make their lives easier (especially if they are managing their current donations manually for missions).However, to ease this conversation, sit down with your Controller/Accounting staff and ask about their current process.ServiceReef strives to make this as easy as possible in a variety of ways, including CRM integrations, automated flows into a designated account, manual transaction entry, and ways to designate donations to a specific accounting code.
  • Are there any IT-related concerns?  If you have folks on staff that manage technology, it’s usually a good idea to include them so they can help answer any integration or technical questions that come up.Typical questions you might get are around security and support in case anything goes wrong.Assure them that the ServiceReef team is continually updating their platform to stay on top of key security and support issues. Again, we are committed to your success… but if they have questions, please reach out and we can provide them with additional information.


What is the true cost?

You might be familiar with the phrase “Penny wise, Pound foolish.”  This English expression first appeared in a 1621 book by Robert Burton.  It still rings true nearly 200 years later.  When considering the cost of a missions platform, the key indicators often come down to the actual dollars that will be spent.  While a part of the decision process, caution your key stakeholders that this isn’t the only cost to consider.  Here are some questions to guide you to a fuller evaluation…

  • What is the cost of doing nothing?  Yes, you can actually manage missions relatively “free” with spreadsheet programs or online volunteer sign-up forms. However, these don’t expand very well and typically need weekly (if not daily) management to maintain accuracy.This costs you (or others) precious time each week.A quick example… we had a trip admin who used to spend her entire Friday each week sorting through excel spreadsheets and emailing participants their current fundraising status.When she joined ServiceReef, our automated emails kept everything up to date and she got an entire day back in her schedule to use for more strategic purposes.Your time, or even “volunteer’s time”, actually has a cost… don’t overlook this when making a decision.
  • Does the cost structure allow us to scale?  Some platforms charge on a per trip cost.Others on a monthly subscription.There are a couple of questions to evaluate as the initial cost may not reflect what your cost will be in 12-18 months as you grow.For example, if there is a platform that charges on a per-trip basis, consider how many months you would need to keep that trip active (for both recruiting and post-trip activities).Also, consider the mental energy to consider in remembering when to open/close each trip to try and manage costs.ServiceReef considered several billing options and made “ease of use” a primary reason for our pricing structure.You can scale up/down within the plans through your organization settings as you grow, but you also just have a single cost per month and room to grow your impact.If you suddenly need to put a couple new trips out there to meet a need, you won’t need to worry about additional costs as there is room within each tier to meet your needs.If nothing else, this also makes the conversation easy with your stakeholders when they ask “what is the cost?”… as you won’t have to do any mental calculations.  Find out more about our pricing.


Is this platform expanding?

One key consideration is the investment each company is making yearly to improve the process for participants and stay on top of key developments within the Missions industry.ServiceReef is committed to driving the industry forward and is continually adapting the platform to ensure success for its partner organizations (i.e. YOU!).Each year, we create 1 or 2 key modules as well has hundreds of small tweaks to help provide a stable and secure platform.As long as you have ideas (and we haven’t run into too many admins without ideas ), we will continue to provide as many efficiencies and tools to make you successful.


Is this trusted by others?

Since each organization is unique, it might be difficult at first to figure out which platform is best for your situation.In guiding hundreds of organizations, we have found that there are some key shared principles to consider… whether you are a mega-church, a small organization running one trip a year, or anything in between.Here are some stories around various functions within ServiceReef… take a look at how some of your colleagues have become heroes by using this platform.


How does this help our participants?

Today’s mission participant expects technology to be easy and available whenever they have questions.By ensuring that they can apply, track forms, get meeting reminders, or immediately access their updated fundraising status, you reduce the questions participants have while empowering them to own their preparation process.ServiceReef originally built their platform with the participant in mind, ensuring a seamless experience regardless of the device being used.


Can this help me capture impact?

Although we all know that the true impact of Kingdom work may not be known in the days or weeks (or years) following a missions trip, the platform you select should have ways to gather a collection of data points that help you measure the impact on both the lives in the field and the impact on those that participated.ServiceReef captures this impact through two key areas:

  • Stories: We believe that story-telling is the primary way to demonstrate personal and field-impact.  By making it easy to share stories/pictures, supporters can follow along at home as participants grow through their experience.  By giving admins control to approve and edit stories, we also provide you ways to protect the safety of those involved.
  • Map Points: What if you could visually show all of your organization’s/church’s touch points around the world?  ServiceReef has a free (yes, FREE) tool to help you display your global touch points and better tell your story.  If you post a trip through ServiceReef, it’s automatically included on your map (assuming, of course, that it isn’t a “secure” trip… you can create those to not show on the map).  The ServiceReef mapping tool is designed to help you tell your vision story… where you’ve been and where you are going. 


Engaging people beyond a technology?

Although you are in the process of considering a technology platform, you should keep in mind that there are ways to engage outside of the platform itself. How else will this platform help guide people along their missional journey?  ServiceReef engages people in several ways both within and outside of the site.Here are a couple of examples:

  • Missional.Life: Every participant who goes on a trip has the option to create a free profile.This allows that user to keep supporters updated of their journey into a life of missions (Domestic, International, Job-related, etc).By enabling them to engage supporters in a similar fashion to social media platforms, it’s easy for them to post stories, prayer requests, and more while keeping their message to only those that they can trust (their private supporters).Since the platforms integrate together, any trip they participate on will automatically flow from to show on their activity feed for supporters to be aware.Find out more here:
  • Donors: For those that give to your participants, the check is so much more than just money.It’s a way to support that individual… and for many, it’s a tangible encouragement of what God is doing in their life.When someone donates, they are alerted via email to stories that are shared on that trip.This enables them to continue to ask questions, engage, and PRAY during each stage of that trip… preparation, during the trip, and after that trip.




Managing Personal Fundraising Pages

ServiceReef is pleased to announce new functionality to manage personal fundraising pages.  

Just a few things you are now able to do:

  • Create a standard fundraising letter text
  • Set standard text to required or editable by participant
  • Allow users to edit their personal fundraising page
  • Require approvals for changes to personal fundraising pages

Learn more about personal fundraising pages and management here.

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EFFECTIVE - Four Tips for Effective Short Term Trip Logistical Management

Have a Plan

You always have to start with a plan.  Benjamin Franklin once said, “failure to plan is planning to fail”.  Your plan should include dates, team leaders, expectations, preparation, resources, travel logistics, legal resources, fundraising tools, communication plans, and more.  


Work the Plan

It might sound simple, but once you have the plan, work it!  Review the plan at least weekly with the lead team for each event and make sure you're keeping your deadlines.  


Have a Team

Working with a team makes all the difference.  Most of us aren’t wired to do everything… we aren’t great at leadership, finances, administration, communication, follow up, and all the other aspects.  Create a team that compliments all the needs of an effective team. 


Utilize Tools

Tools should work for you, not the other way around.  Consider a tool like ServiceReef.  Most organizations will spend over 150 hours managing a single short term trip. ServiceReef enables organizations to manage trips in less than 40 hours.  Spend the time where it counts and not in the administrative weeds.  You have a task to equip people for missional engagement, keep focused on the main goal!  

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EFFECTIVE - Four Tips for Effective Short Term Trip Team Leader Success

The Right Person

It really does start with the right person and this is often best known by watching people as they experience serving opportunities and how they handle smaller responsibilities.  You are looking for a person with the right character, the right temperament, the right social skills, and the right administrative skills.  Know what you are looking for and keep lists of potential team leaders. 


Defined Responsibilities

We can’t stress this enough: it’s so important to define the responsibilities of your team leader… what do you expect of them, what can their team expect of them, and what should they expect from themselves?  You may also clarify what’s not expected of them. 


Leader in Training

Never miss the opportunity to be looking for future leaders and training one or two people on every trip.  You can make this as formal as you'd like, but also be training new leaders in the environment of known and trusted team leaders.  Give these leaders in training an opportunity to lead and to fail.  It’s much better to provide these micro leadership experiences before you allow them to lead their own trip.


Prepare Them Well

Don’t expect your team leaders to just magically appear.  This is a skill and it takes training.  Consider a team leader training program where you help equip them, clarify expectations, help them navigate team preparation and team conflict resolution, and equip them with the tools to lead well.  Ask former team leaders what makes it a success and what tools or training they wish they would have had.

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