The No. 1 priority should be to keep youth members safe. Here are three common mistakes that could put them at risk.
- Lack of Planning and Preparation
Even if your group is full of missionary veterans, without careful and detailed planning, even the most experienced members can get tripped up.
Here are some areas where you want to be completely thorough when planning your trip:
- Do your research – Get to know the area you will be visiting before you go. What should your missionaries expect upon arrival? Are there customs or cultural differences that your group should be mindful of? Is there political turmoil that could place your group at risk?
- Set the right expectations – Be clear to group members on the requirements needed to join, as well as the appropriate behavior expected while on the trip. Explain the need for waivers, contact information applications and appropriate documentation. Both parents and teens should understand the nature of the trip and the risk and responsibility that a trip requires of each person.
- Have an emergency action plan – From medical emergencies and natural disasters to crime and shifting geopolitics, a lot can happen during your trip. Be sure that you have a plan, and that you communicate it to both missionaries and members at home, for if and when things go wrong.
- Forgetting to Flex
Building in flexibility to your mission plan can help prepare your group for the unexpected. Adaptability will be key for navigating unplanned “oh-no” moments in a foreign country.
Help incorporate flexibility into your plan with these action items:
- Add buffer dates to your trip – Flights can get cancelled or delayed. Buses can breakdown.
- Allow downtime – Don’t overpack your itinerary. This can lead to frustration at delays or incite burnout amongst the group.
- Looking (and Acting) like a Tourist
Matching t-shirts are a fun idea and a great way to commemorate the trip, but wearing them in an unfamiliar place can mark your group as tourists.
From a risk standpoint, this can be an issue, as tourists are often seen as easy marks for criminals.
From an outreach perspective, consider how group behavior could impact your effectiveness. The goal should be selfless acts of service, not just selfies.
Finally, here is a bonus mistake to avoid – skipping or skimping on insurance. Having the right missionary/foreign travel insurance can help protect your members and your mission.
Speak to a trusted insurance agent about your options and what works best for your worship center’s needs.
This information is courtesy of Glatfelter Religious Practice (GRP), which specializes in insurance and risk management programs for churches and other religious institutions and is a division of Glatfelter Insurance Group (an AIG company), one of the largest program managers in the U.S., www.glatfelterreligiouspractice.com.