Many people think about visiting at church during Christmas. Here are a few ways you can use Facebook to reach people during Christmas.
Evangelism at Christmas – How to use Facebook
Ready to get started? There are several ways to reach people using Facebook both free and paid. Today I’m going to talk about the paid option. We’ll cover the free option another day. Check back or subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss out.
Facebook allows you to reach a very specific group of people using their advertising platform. You will need a Facebook business Fanpage. To get started click here and then create your ad. The first thing you will see is to choose your objective which could include: boost your posts, promote your page, send people to your website, reach people near your business, raise attendance at your event or get video reviews. Several are potential options depending on what you are trying to accomplish. If you have already created a post and want to promote it, choose boost your posts. You could also send people to your website for more information or if you have an event you are promoting you could choose raise attendance at your event. For this example I’m selecting reach people near your business.
When you select this option you don’t (as of this writing) have the ability to target specific groups but you can target men, women, both and age plus the radius around your church. You’ll see something like this.
This is the quickest and simplest way to run an ad on Facebook. Just set your budget per day and how long you want to run the ad. Facebook will tell you approximately how many people you will reach each day. In later posts we’ll talk about other targeting options that allow you to choose a more specific audience.
Here are some of the other ways to reach people and some of the advantages and drawbacks we’ve found.
- Newspaper advertising – This has historically been one of the ways churches have used to reach out to people. If the price is right it might still make sense if you have some extra money in your budget but there are a number of reasons I do not recommend newspapers. First their readership is declining so your ad is going to reach less people. Second people have a tendency to skip over ads. Finally you will reach people who are to far away from your church.
- Radio – Expensive and the reach is generally 50 to 100 miles so people hear your ad and will not travel that far. Also most radio stations are experiencing a decline in their audience.
- Direct mail – The post office has actually done a good job creating a very targeted program called Every Door Direct Mail. While you cannot target the kids of people you want to reach, you can reach everyone in a carrier route. I’ll be covering this option in another post. It is more expensive than Facebook.
Halloween will be here in a week and many churches held their Trunk or Treat on Sunday October 25, 2015. We decided to take our grandchildren to two Trunk or Treats tonight. Both were packed. The weather was perfect which probably helped but I praise God for the huge turnouts.
The first church we visited was Community Bible Church in High Point and they had a good church marketing piece for Halloween. They probably have a membership of 2,000 or so. The children’s pastor, Dave Annan is a friend of mine and I saw his post on Facebook and decided to go. They had a children’s service at the beginning with music, entertainment and a message. There were so many kids there that there was not enough room in their sanctuary to hold them all. We arrived about 10 minutes late and could not even get into the sanctuary.
Afterwards they held their trunk or treat. If logistics can be worked out I recommend having a check in where you ask for parents email address if they want to keep in touch with what is going on at the church. In this case it would have been difficult since there were at least 1,000 kids and parents. They did the second best thing by creating a simple postcard that told about the children’s ministry and gave the website and phone number for people who wanted more information.
Church Marketing for Halloween
It was something that was simple, inexpensive and could be done by every church that holds a trunk or treat. Our church did not do that, but next year we will!
Another good idea that one of the members of the church I attend, Covenant Church United Methodist, did was to hand out stickers instead of candy. Kids had so much candy another piece meant little to them by the end but the last car had run out of candy and were handing out stickers. The kids were loving them because they were something different.
If you decide to hand out stickers Memory Cross has some of the best prices on stickers. You could hand out a sheet of stickers to kids for less than the price of a piece of candy. We also have some fun Halloween tracts that children are sure to appreciate which present the Gospel.
If you attended a Trunk or Treat did you find anything that was particularly effective? Be sure to post it below.
Here are a few pictures from our Trunk or Treat
Halloween started as a Christian celebration and many Christians are taking it back and using it as an opportunity for evangelism.
Some of the ways Christians are reaching their community through evangelism during Halloween are by handing out Gospel tracts to children and through Trunk-or-Treat events.
Gospel Tracts for Halloween
Handing out tracts to children along with candy is an easy way to put the Gospel into kid’s hands. Some people prefer to hand out the Gospel of John which is available on Amazon for under $2.00 per book while others prefer Gospel tracts with a Halloween theme. Both can be an effective way to present the Gospel to children and invite parents to visit their local church.
Presenting the Gospel through Trunk or Treat
The history of Trunk or Treat is sketchy but it started in the 1990s. Wikipedia says it was started by either churches or schools looking for a alternative to going door to door trick or treating but whatever the origins churches have clearly embraced the celebration with thousands hosting a Trunk or Treat on the church grounds. Many have gone far beyond parking some cars in the church parking lot and handing out candy out of the back. You can now find live music, games, bounce houses, food and even movies. For many churches it has become an event where hundreds or even thousands of kids come from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Churches benefit because many kids and parents attend that do not come to church. The event opens up opportunities to let visitors know what other things are going on at the church and invite them to come back. Kids and parents benefit from a fun, safe Halloween event where kids can get candy and enjoy the other activities that have been prepared.
Between handing out Gospel tracts during trick or treat and Trunk or Treat millions of children are exposed to the Gospel each year, which in the writers opinion is a pretty cool thing. Lest you think Christians should stay away from all Halloween activities either because they are of the devil or you don’t want Christians messing with a Satanic celebration Halloween is actually one of the pure Christian events. Yes it has been modified by people looking for the darker side but that happens with every Christian event.
Wikipedia has this to say about Halloween
Halloween or Hallowe’en also known as Allhalloween, All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers. Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”
So this Halloween celebrate life! Jesus has come, died and was raised from the dead. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:55: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
This year join in and let children know that Jesus has a plan for their life not only for this life but for the life that is eternal. Olaf in Frozen says: “Let’s go bring back summer!” With the same enthusiasm let us say let’s go make disciples!
Comments? Leave them below. We publish all legitimate comments, good or bad so let me know what you think.
There are a lot of pieces involved in putting on a successful Trunk or Treat. First there are all the details involved in setting up a Trunk or Treat: getting the church members involved, decorating cars, food, music, games, bounce houses. Then there is promotion and publicity. After all if you don’t get the word out then no children from outside your church will show up. The list can seem endless.
All of these activities are necessary but from my experience most churches do a pretty good job managing these various tasks. Promotion probably could use the most help from the list above but the item I am thinking of is not even on that list.
The missing piece:
What? you may be thinking. How can that possibly be the most important? It is the most important thing that churches do not do and I’m going to show you why this one overlooked task is the most important task that is not done.
How are you going to stay in touch?
If you don’t collect email address how will you stay in touch with the visitors who attended your Trunk or Treat? The answer is you probably can’t but with email you suddenly have the ability to reach out after Halloween is over. There is a variety of information that you should be sending them: other children’s events (children’s choir, Christmas dramas and events, Thanksgiving events). Then there is information that might appeal to the parents. Each church is different but maybe an email about Sunday School classes for parents of elementary school, social opportunities, the pastors sermons, invitation to attend church. You don’t want to overwhelm them but one or two emails a week will begin to take them from an attendee at your Trunk-or-Treat to an active church member and follower of Jesus.
The good news is it does not take that long to put all of this information together. A good email service like MailChimp can make automating your emails easy. There are tutorials on their site so I won’t go into all the details but first you will set up an email list. Call it something like Trunk-or-treat kids. Now add the emails you collected. First name and email address is all you are going to need to collect.
Next set up your emails that you want to send out. On MailChimp it is called Automation. Others may call it something else, but they all do the same thing. You’ll decide when you want to send the email out. I recommend sending out a thank you for attending our Trunk or Treat within a couple days of the event. The others should be about upcoming events or programs at church both for parents and children. If your church is organized you may have enough information to write emails that cover all the way to January. Most churches though find creating emails for the next month work well. Just remember that you need to write the next set of emails the beginning of December. Make a commitment to stay in touch with them for one year. Set aside a couple hours every month to write the emails. If you keep a list of what you want to send them you’ll be able to cut the actual writing down to less than an hour.
By doing this you have turned a one time event into a outreach ministry that will have results. MailChimp is free until you get 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 emails per month so your cost is going to be your time. Once you start this outreach you’ll find other events where it makes sense to collect email addresses and start another outreach list. Don’t add them to the same list because they’ll receive the outdated emails.
If you found this helpful let me know and we’ll expand on it in other posts. You also might want to check out our post on how to promote Trunk or Treat in 2015.
Moses plays a very prominent part in the Old Testament both as a leader of the Israelites and as a writer of the books of the Bible, but what about his faith? God’s hand was on Moses from birth, helping him escape death by the Egyptians and in raising him as a son of Pharaoh where he was educated under the best instructors of the time. God prepared Moses for the work he would call him to later in life.
Moses was also one of the privileged few who have actually heard God’s voice and experienced his glory. I am writing this post because I’ll be teaching 5th graders about the faith of Moses and I find writing helps me clarify my own thoughts. This is not meant to be a Sunday School lesson but I’ll provide some of the resources I’m using at the end. It seems to me that with everything Moses experienced he would have been a very forceful leader for God, but on several occasions that did not happen.
He first met God through the burning bush where God actually talked to him. The story is found in Exodus 3 and 4. When God spoke to Abraham he listened and moved. When God spoke to Moses he tried his best to get God to change his mind. Even after he finally went Pharaoh would not listen to him and Moses complained to God. After he had seen God’s glory when God gave him the 10 Commandments he listened to the leaders of Israel and did not go into the territory that would become Israel. I would have expected that he would have told the people that God had brought them out of Egypt, promised them their own country and that he was going in with our without the people of Israel.
Moses and faith – How you can live a life of passionately following Jesus
Least I judge Moses to hard what have we been given and how do we respond? God has given us the Bible so we can read the many stories of people living (or not living) out their life as God wanted. Since Jesus came, died and sent the Holy Spirit each believer has also had God living in them, an experience that radically changed the Apostles, members of the early church and many people around the world today.
God gave Moses what seemed like a huge task: Free 1 million people from Pharaoh and move them back into the land that God gave Abraham. It was a task that should have taken three months but that ended up taking him the rest of his life. God has given us a task that is even bigger. Everyone who becomes a Christian is instructed to go make other disciples. What is known as the Great Commission is found in every Gospel. I’ve quoted from Matthew 28 in God’s Word translation: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. So wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. And remember that I am always with you until the end of time.
What will your story look like at the end of your life? Are you focused on serving Him or serving yourself? Where are you storing up treasures? Living a life of faith, trusting in Jesus is not always hard. Yes many people I know have sold what they owned and left to be a missionary in another country, but God needs people who serve him right here. Sometimes it is as simple as paying for someone’s meal. In the video below you’ll see how one very simple act changed the lives of many. That is probably something we all can do.
Try saying a prayer something like this one: Lord Jesus I know you want people who love you with all of their heart, soul and mind. People who are willing to listen and follow you. Help me to be one of those people. Every morning let me wake up and live my life serving you.
Sunday School Resources on Moses
Back to our Sunday School class. We’re spending four weeks studying Moses through various ways: art, music, Scripture and media. This week is media so I’m going to use these videos to help our kids understand Moses, his faith and how God calls us to live a life of obedience to him.
Story of Moses. This animated video does a good job telling about the history God’s people during the time of Moses.
How do you put faith in action?
Recommended books and resources
These resources are mix between helping you grow in your faith and helping children develop their faith.
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan – God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not, we all know something’s wrong.
- Awakening by Matt Brown -We keep hearing about weakening faith in our country, but God is alive and well in America. He is working right here and now in people of faith. This book will awaken your heart and soul to his presence and to the power of Christianity today, which will in turn ignite your faith and change your world. Christians in America are inundated with negative stories and statistics about the decline of the faith. Awakening is a very encouraging counter balance of astounding stories of God at work all around the world, and it will inspire you to take part.
- Teaching children about the birth of Moses – Craft card by Memory Cross
- Moses and the burning bush – Craft card by Memory Cross that helps children remember this story.
- Moses parting the Red Sea – craft card by Memory Cross
- Sunday School lessons about Moses – Ministry to Children – free resources.
If you are on Facebook check out the page: Faith and Action Today – Leaving ordinary behind. On this page we continue the conversation about growing in our relationship with Christ through Scripture, inspirational videos and personal thoughts.
To download any of the videos, click on watch on YouTube and the put the letters “ss” in front of YouTube. Example: If the link was YouTube.com/abcdef… you would put ssYouTube.com/abcdef… It works on most video sharing sites.
“A Change of Heart”
By: Floranilla Rosquita-Aragones
Last January 11, 2015; the day after we celebrated the 2nd birthday of our son Mel Florenz, we discover that God blessed us with another gift of life. My husband and I were overjoyed. We got so ecstatic with the idea of becoming parents for the second time around. We were hoping that this time it will be a baby girl. Our excitement was heightened when our families and friends knew the news and were excited for us as well.
But as the days passed, my excitement started to fade out. I experienced difficulties with my pregnancy that I never had experienced with our first child. I got physically weak and I got so dizzy most of the time that I just stayed in the bed almost the whole day. I didn’t want to eat because everything smelled foul. My morning sickness was worst. I vomited most of the time. I became frustrated that I couldn’t do the things that I used to do. Being an active person who usually loves to multi-tasks, I started to become frustrated that I can’t follow my daily schedules and tasks-on-hand anymore. My husband got really worried and his worries made me even more frustrated. He prayed for me every night. I also prayed every day, asking God to lift me from these burdens; to change my situation. But days turns to weeks and weeks to months still there’s no changes. It seems God was so far away or He may not be listening to me at all that I started asking Him a lot of “Whys?”
One day, during my personal devotional time, these words hit me straight to my heart: “Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He is trying to change your heart.” And at that moment I was opened to a realization that maybe, I was in this course of life because there is something that God wanted me to learn. And as I tried to accept the fact that my situation is normal, like any pregnant moms and that this kind of journey is essential for me to fully experience the life of a mother, my frustrations started to wane out and my excitement started to find its light back in my heart.
I believe that in every trial that comes our way, God has a purpose for it. He is our greatest mentor and the ultimate designer of our life. He perfectly designs every lesson that will communicate to our individual hearts. We all seem to have the chance to acquire the same lessons in our life but through different ways and situations.
Maybe God is not allowing the situations in our life to change because He is trying to change the course of our heart. Because those situations are necessary for us to go through in order for God to really work His ways through us.
So, whatever situation you are in right now, may it be difficulties at work, at school, at relationships or you’re in situation like I was in, TRUST GOD. TRUST HIS PLAN. TRUST HIS HEART. And consider this: how can you grow from the situation that you are in?
Let God work on your heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
So, were you in the same situation? How did you allow God to work with you? We would love to hear your experiences.
P.S. Last August 28, 2015, after 38weeks, I gave birth to a baby girl named Mia Eliana; simply means – God answers our prayers in a beautiful way.
Another page to check out is our Facebook page “Jesus and Faith today – leaving behind average” where we share stories, scriptures and thoughts on living the life that Jesus calls you to live. Not a comfortable life but one where we radically decide to follow Jesus.
If your church is having a Trunk or treat or a fall festival and want to invite the community we’ve put together some of the best ways to promote it in 2015. Traditional methods have not changed much but the internet and Facebook in particular has changed a lot since 2014. At the bottom I’ll provide links to articles we wrote in 2013 and 2014. They are short and still have a lot of relevant information.
How to promote a Trunk or Treat or Fall Festival in 2015
Facebook is the most effective way for most churches to reach people for any event including Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats. Around 70% of the entire U.S. population is on Facebook and the percentage is higher among young families, which is the group you are most likely trying to reach. Facebook has changed in the past year and posting an announcement without promoting it will no longer be effective but by paying to promote the announcement you can reach the exact people who are most likely to attend. We’re already created a post on how to create a Facebook ad which you can find here. The post was written to help churches reach new movers but the information is the same. You just need to change the demographics which I’ve listed below.
Under the section who do you want to reach, select the city or zip codes, age group and whether they have kids and the ages. Facebook will show you how many people they have that match your demographics. I made a screen shot as a visual reference. Everything else in our post on advertising on Facebook will be the same.
Plan to run your ad 10-15 days before the event and set it to expire the day of the event. Set the amount you want to spend each day and you’ll see approximately how many people Facebook will show your ad to each day. One of the nice things about online advertising is you get to set how much you want to pay each day.
I recommend that you create a Facebook post with a link to your website and promote the post. Ask church members to like and share the post. That will tell Facebook that this event is important and they will not only show it organically (for free!!) but will charge you less for clicks that you do receive.
Promote your trunk or treat on your website and blog
This is a good free way to let people know about your event. List the date, time and address of the event with city and state along with details and pictures from last year’s event. Link to it from your Facebook page post, the one you created above. Now go to Pingler and ping the two pages. To do that click on the announcement on your webpage and copy the URL at the top of your browser. That is what you’ll copy into Pingler. Make the keyword “Fall Festival city state” or “Trunk or treat city state”. In the category select “news”. Pingler will then send out your pages to a number of search engines, and news feeds that will help rank the page and make it more visible on the web.
Craig’s List and other local event listing sites that can be used to promote your Trunk or Treat
Craig’s list allows you to post your event for free and you’ll be amazed at how many people visit this site looking for things to do. Craig’s list is not one site but hundreds so Google Craig’s list or go to www.craigslist.org and you should arrive at your local Craig’s List. Click posts to classified and then event/class (last one on the list) and then I’m advertising an event other than the above (last one). You’ll then be taken to a listing page where you can put the information about the event. I believe that you can list a link to your blog post or site that has more information (http://www.your-church.com). There are also a number of other free listings available in your area but since each city has different ones Google “free places to list events, city state” or “places to list events, city, state” if you don’t mind paying a small fee.
Promoting Trunk or Treat or fall festivals using videos
The internet is moving toward video and you can take advantage of this by creating a video about your Fall Festival/Trunk or Treat and posting it on YouTube, Facebook and GodTube. For Facebook upload the video and write a description, in this case about your Fall Festival. Encourage members to like and share the video. You can also spend more to promote it. The cost to promote it is low and you can put a link for more information at the end of the video. The video will get more views if you keep it around 3 minutes.
For YouTube and GodTube follow these instructions when uploading. They will vary some so I wrote the instructions for YouTube since it gets much more traffic. You can use the same video.
- When you upload the video keep it unlisted until you are have the information that follows completed.
- First your church should have a YouTube channel. If you don’t check out this video.
- Next you’ll want to put the following information in the description: Title of video (in this case Trunk or Tread, name of church city and state). Right underneath that put the link to the page on your website that has more information. Now put a brief description of the event and include the city, state, and date of the event. Encourage people to leave a comment by posting: leave your comment below. Then you can post a link to another video or encourage them to subscribe to your channel and finally put the link to your church website. Now put keywords in the tags section. (fall festival, trunk or treat, Halloween, etc.)
- You now want to click on the button that says “cards”. That will allow you to create a link that goes to your website.
- You are ready to make it public and here is where you need the help from your church because the video needs to have some views to rank, especially in the first 24 hours. It is a great idea if you have a group of people who agree to help with church outreach by watching videos that are put up. If you have an email program create a list and add everyone who agrees to that list. Then email them the link once the video is up and live. If you don’t yet have this list post the video on Your churches Facebook page and ask people to watch the video.
- Hopefully it will start ranking now only in YouTube but also on Google.
- You can also advertise the video on YouTube. You’ll need a Adwords account but the link will walk you through that. If you want to know more about how to get views on YouTube take a look at the video below. I have taken several of James Wedmore’s courses and he gives practical information that has value.
Advertise on Google
Finally you can advertise on Google. It is the reverse of Facebook advertising. Using Facebook you find people who match your demographic and then show ads to them. With Google you put your ad in front of people who are searching for specific keywords. I’m not going into a lot of details here because I think there are better ways to reach people for Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treats but if you have the budget (you get to set it) and want to try advertising here is a quick guideline.
- Find the keywords that people are looking for. You’ll need an Adwords account and when you log in click Keyword planner tool on the top right hand side. You can then search for keywords and see how many searches are done nationally. Keywords that you’ll probably want to target will be: Alternative Halloween, Halloween events, Trick or Treat events, Trunk or Treat, What’s happening in city. Make sure when you create an ad that you tell it to only show up in your area. You don’t want to pay for ads that are showing up thousands of miles away.
Other articles you might want to check out
- How to use Facebook to grow a church
- Ideas to promote Trunk or Treat (2014 still lots of good ideas and we updated it for 2015)
- 7 top ideas for creating a Trunk or Treat that reaches children with the Gospel
- Ideas for setting up a successful Trunk or Treat
If you have ideas or suggestions, write a comment. We’d like to know what other churches are doing to reach others with the Gospel during the Fall and check out some of the amazing tracts that are available from Memory Cross.
Memory Cross has a number of Gospel Tracts for Halloween available. Check out the video, visit our site or if you prefer you can buy on Amazon.
We have a new card we would like to ask your opinion about before we go to press in a couple weeks. This card is designed to teach children ages 4 to 10 John 3:16. It will be available in NIV, KJV, Spanish and maybe Haitian if we get enough requests. It can also be translate it into any language with an order of 250 cards and at least 3 weeks notice.
Today were asking for your opinion on symbols, which will remain the same between the translations. I’ve had a few people write about why we ask for input. We talk to people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who give us input which we never thought about. We don’t guarantee we’ll make the changes but we do read and discuss every suggestion.
The question that we want to know is do the symbols make sense and are they the best ones to use or are there others that we did not think about? Our hope is that adults will not only help children learn the verse but teach the meaning of the symbols which will reinforce this verse.
The potential use for this John 3:16 card are many: mission trips, VBS, teaching children John 3:16 during Sunday School, Children’s Church or used in a children’s worship bag. It could also be used as a goodie for Trick or Treat and children in the Awanna program learn John 3:16 as the first verse.
Here are the four panels and if you prefer you can click here to download a PDF of each panel.
Thanks for leaving your comments in the section below.
I’m departing from my normal writing to tell you about a new product we have developed around the Memory Cross design. They are wedding coasters and favors which are unique among all the coasters and favors available for weddings today.
We used the unique Memory Cross origami design, printed it on coaster paper, known as beverage board or blotter paper, and added four images which are personalized for each couple. Here is a picture of one of the cards we’ve developed.
Wedding Coasters Video
We also put together a video that showcases these unique wedding coasters.
Delivery will take a couple weeks and we’re planning to make them available on the Memory Cross website, Amazon, WeddingWire, Ebay and we may also list it on Etsy. Free samples are also available by clicking on this link. We’re excited at this new creative use for Memory Cross cards. People all across the world are constantly finding new ways to use this unique design. We’ve also created a few wedding invitations using the 4 x 4 coaster size or the larger 6 x 6.
Creating this coaster is simple. Just visit the site and upload the four images that you wan to use. Within a couple days a proof will be sent to you electronically. If you are looking for a wedding favor that your friends and family will remember order a free sample so you can evaluate this coaster for yourself.
Let us know what you think?
Things to bring on a mission trip
Going on a international mission trip can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of your life, but preparation can make the difference between a great experience and a nightmare. Every country is different and the situation within a country will also vary significantly. If the mission trip you are going on is sponsored by an agency that operates multiple mission trips during the year they should have a specific list of items you will want to bring as well as what you need to do to prepare for the trip. Here is my general list of the 30 most important things to bring or prepare before going on a mission trip.
- Passport – Okay I thought I’d start with the obvious but you would be surprised how many people get ready for a mission trip out of the United States and don’t think about a passport. One thing people don’t realize is how long it takes to get a passport. Normal service is 4-6 weeks and expedited, which costs $60 more takes 3 weeks. You can also drive or fly to Washington DC and get one in 24 hours. I know of one person who totally forgot about her passport and ended up taking this route. Here is the link to more information on getting a passport. Even if you have one, check and see that you know where it is and that it is still valid at least 6 weeks ahead of time. You don’t want any last minute surprises with your passport.
- Clothes – Make sure they are appropriate for what you will be doing, for the temperature and for modesty. Find out if you are going to be attending a church service because you will want to dress up for the service. Contemporary casual is not nearly as popular in most other countries.
- Shoes – I recommend sneakers or other shoes that cover your entire foot. Don’t bring new ones, especially if you are going to be standing or walking most of the day. Something that is comfortable will be very important.
- Vaccinations – You’ll want to make sure you are properly vaccinated for any diseases or infections in the country you are traveling in. Luckily the CDC provides a quick easy way for you to make sure you are getting the right vaccinations. Just click here and enter your country and that you are going on a mission trip. It will provide you with a list that you can take to your doctor. Don’t wait to the last minute. Some shots take time before they are effective.
- Bring something for diarrhea. Contaminated food and water are the two biggest threats to your trip. First be careful what you eat and drink. Even bottled water can be contaminated in some countries. Over the counter prescriptions include: Imodium, Pepto-Bismol, and Kaopectate.
- Personal items including shampoo, soap, tooth paste, tooth brush, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Females should bring feminine hygiene products since what is available varies from country to country. Buy TSA approved sizes, put them in a plastic bag and put it toward the top so you can get it out easily if requested.
- Personal medications. Keep them in original bottles and check with the country you are going to about any restrictions. You don’t want to spend the night in the local jail for drug dealing!
- Sunscreen preferably in a spray bottle.
- Bug spray with Deet or Mosquito Repellant Wipes.
- Benadryl or a good antihistamine
- When you are at the doctors ask for a prescription of Cipro. Friends who are doctors and go on mission trips say they would not leave home without it.
- Money belt that you can wear underneath your cloths that can also carry your credit card and passport. Unfortunately some people love to see tourists loaded down with purses, cell phones, iPads and cameras. Best to keep your most important documents as safe as possible.
- Cash – new and in $5, 10 and 20. Most places I’ve been to accept MC or Visa in the markets and you can usually exchange dollars at the airport, which probably has the best (fairest) exchange rate.
- Copy of your passport that is kept either with another person traveling with you, in another location besides where the original is or even online if you will have internet access. Dropbox or Evernote are both free services where you can keep all your important documents. Even if you won’t have internet access it is likely that you could find it someplace.
- Medicine for motion sickness. There are many. Here is a link to WebMD.
- Camera/Video recorder. It depends where you are going as to what I recommend. If you have a smart phone that will probably work okay. If you are going to be taking pictures of kids who will want to see the photos I probably recommend bringing something different. Something small that does not cost a lot and that has a memory card that you can change out daily. I was in the DR one time and a kid took my camera. It happened in a second and he was gone. Luckily justice is swift in the DR. The police and our off duty police officer found who stole it, put a couple assault rifles to his head and asked that he return the camera. He was told the camera or your life! I’m glad he decided wisely. In 30 minutes I had it back but he did manage to erase all the pictures I had taken for the day. Luckily I had been swapping out memory cards so I only lost one day.
- Bathing suit – I know it goes with clothes but it is very possible you’ll find some place to swim.
- Shower shoes. I know women are pretty good about this but if you are not staying in a hotel room even you men who are reading this list should consider bringing along a pair of flip flops.
- Adapter for your power accessories. Not all countries have the same plugs that we have and it will be easier to find the right adapter in the United States than when you are on your mission trip. If you don’t know what type of power adapter to take here is a complete list by country.
- Neck pillow for plan or bus. Not necessary but you know you want to bring one. If you have a long trip makes for better sleeping.
- Antibiotic cream in case you get a cut.
- Basic first aid kit. If you are going as a group either create one central first aid kit or have 10 people bring a few of the basic items. The American Red Cross has a list of items that they recommend that can be found on their website.
- Travel insurance – Check with your health provider to see if you are covered in the country you are serving in. Travel insurance also has several other benefits. We’ve included a link if you would like to learn more.
- Language translator. If you have time learn basic words in the country’s native language. If you have a smart phone translation apps like Google translate are available and can be downloaded locally onto your phone which is handy since you probably will not have high speed internet connection. (But you never know. I’ve been out in the country surrounded by fields and houses with no power and come across a internet cafe run by generators!)
- Water bottle which you can use on the trip and while you are there. Please make sure you have found safe drinking water.
- Earplugs or headphones depending on your power situation. Different beds and noises may make sleeping difficult or you might be so tired you could sleep through anything!
- Zip-lock bags. Pack a extra 4-5. You’ll probably find uses for them and they take up no space in your luggage.
- Bible. Actually if you have a smart phone I recommend the Bible App. It is 100% free, can be downloaded to your phone or tablet and probably is available in the language of the country you are traveling to.
- Gospel tracts or some way to share the Gospel, especially if you are working with kids. I’m biased since I am partners at Memory Cross so if you have other suggestions write them in the comment box. This is why I like Memory Cross. They have an origami design that catches kid’s attention and are in black and white so bring along pencils or crayons and let the kids color them in. They present the Gospel in Spanish/English or Haitian Creole/English on the same card so kids not only hear the Gospel in their native language but they can also learn English. Order a free sample and see for yourself. Just click this link. I gave you this link even though you might not work full time for the church but we’ll pick up the freight using this link.
- Prayer/Attitude. Pray before you go, pray while you are there. Don’t be upset because your careful plans don’t go the way you thought. God is working through your efforts to reach others with His love. Look for God working. Open your heart. Realize that many countries do not operate on “American Time”. Things will get done. Be patient, love others.
Short term mission trips can change the lives of the kids you meet as well as your own life. Memory Cross supports a Medical center outside of Barahona Dominican Republic and a orphanage in Barahona all because of my first short term mission trip to the region. We’re helping to set up a support network that will allow more homeless children to have a safe place to live and know of God’s love with a goal of housing 100 kids. Presently there are 40 kids.
Before my first mission trip out of the country I looked at it as an inefficient use of funds. After all we could pay someone who is already down there to reach others. After my first trip my opinion was totally changed. If you are in doubt, go. If your heart and mind are open I think you will find it life changing.
I put together this list of 30 things to bring on a mission trip with the help of advice of friends who have been on a number of mission trips. If we missed anything please let us know. I put together some of my favorite photos from a few of our trips to the DR.
If would like to check out Mission trip Gospel tracts by Memory Cross click this link. The video below shows how all of our tracts work.
If you found this list of 30 things to bring on mission trip useful let others who are going on a mission trip know and if we missed something add it to the comment box. Copy the address at the top of your URL or click the share button.