Recruiting Students for Mission Trips

This post is all about recruiting students and keeping them engaged in your mission trip.

You are excited to take your student ministry deeper by going on a mission trip together.  However, recruiting students can be more challenging than you might think. 

Students don’t just register for a mission trip because we say, “Sign up now!” On top of that, you worry that not having enough students register for your mission trip could have a domino effect and lead to poorly attended events in the future. 

YouthWorks has spent  25+ years working with youth leaders just like you who want to engage teenagers in a unique service experience: mission trips. This post includes our fresh ideas on how to not only get more students signed up for your mission trip, but also keep them engaged in the ministry ahead. 

Before we jump in, take a few minutes to look through these helpful links about planning a mission trip:

Recruiting Students for Mission Trips

What are some recruiting best practices?

Start early. The best time to start recruiting students is NOW. Summer calendars fill up fast, so you want to make sure you get the word out early before students become unavailable. 

Persuade parents. When deciding on summer plans, parents have a lot of choices. Build relationships with parents by connecting with them throughout the year and sharing why you think their student would benefit from experiencing a mission trip. Determine ways you can support parents such as creating mission trip scholarships, hosting parent/student mission trip meetings or sending regular emails to get them excited about the trip. 

Promote! Get the word out about where and when your mission trip will take place. Promote your trip through announcements at church, in your ministry and on social media. Share pictures and stories from previous service trips. Personally invite students to come on the trip and encourage them to invite their friends. 

Avoid blank sign-up sheets. Students want to make sure that their friend are coming on the trip too. When they see a blank sign-up sheet, students may assume no one will be interested. Reach out to a few students before posting you sign-up, so that you have some names listed right away. 

Decide on deadlines and solidify commitments. Once you have students signed up, set deadlines for them to solidify their commitment to coming on the trip. This could look like signing a covenant, filling out a registration form, paying a portion of their deposit or attending regular trip meetings. You want to be able to confirm group size numbers well in advance so you can plan out vehicles, how many Adult Leaders you’ll need and other trip logistics. 

Mission Trip Recruiting

You’ve finished recruiting students, now how do you keep them signed up?

It’s exciting to have students on board for your trip, but keeping them engaged leading up to the trip can be a challenge. To help you make a game plan for the months ahead, check out some of our tried-and-true strategies for maintaining student interest. 

Lay out your payment structure and fundraising plans. Students (and parents) need to know how much they will be paying for the trip and payment deadlines. Be sure to communicate scholarship and any grace periods for payments. A great way to lower the cost of the trip for students is to fundraise. Encourage students to participate in fundraising events and share with the community why they are excited for their mission trip. Need fundraising ideas? Check out our Fundraising Guide HERE>>>

Communicate details and share excitement. Plan touchpoint meetings throughout the year leading up to your trip where you can go over upcoming deadlines, community information and prepare for service. Get students excited with a countdown to the trip, fun trivia or facts about your mission site and any milestones from fundraisers.

Involve students. Seek out ways you can involve students in mission trip plans. If you’re travelling further away to your mission trip site, ask students what places they’d be interested in stopping by on the way there. Do you have a mix of older and younger students going on the trip? Think about how you can create mentoring opportunities for older students. 

Meet together. We recommend meeting 3-6 times before your mission trip as a large group. Meeting together helps build relationships, keep students engaged and create positive expectations for the trip. Make sure to include a mix of logistics, fun, spiritual and relational components in your meetings. 

Looking for more ideas? YouthWorks has got your back!

DOWNLOAD the Recruiting Students and Adults Guidebook: Even more ideas for recruiting students and keeping them engaged throughout the year. Additionally, you’ll find ideas on how to recruit adults for your trip and questions for you to prepare yourself and your group for what’s ahead.

Do you need some mission trip coaching to plan out your next steps? Sign-up for FREE mission trip coaching HERE >>

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