Mission Trip Debriefing Guide

Debriefing is a time of reflection. It is important to debrief during your mission trip, at the end of your trip, and once you are back home. This allows you to think repeatedly and in different contexts about how your experiences on the trip can give glory to God. Make sure you have your mission trip debriefing plan in place before you leave for your trip.

Debriefing guidance for every stage of your trip

It is amazing how much you forget once you are home. To help you remember your experiences, spend time journaling each day during your trip, even if you don’t like to write. Encourage the rest of your team to do the same. As you journal each night, think about these questions:

  • Where have you seen God today? 
  • What miracles did you experience today?
  • What prayers did God answer today?
  • How did God work above and beyond your expectations today?
  • What stories can you share from your experiences?
  • What was the most challenging or difficult part of your day?

Take time to discuss the questions below as a team and with your hosts: 

  • What if we committed to spending as much money supporting the ministries here as we did on getting here?
  • What if we hired local people to help with projects?
  • What if we bought local products and materials while we’re here?
  • What can we learn about the people and the culture we’re visiting?
  • Are there ways we can be more culturally agile as we interact with the people here?

At the end of your trip, have each person write a letter to themselves about their week and the impact it had on them. Encourage them to write about how they will continue to serve once they are back home. Mail them their letters six months after returning home.

The end of the week should also include a focused time of deeper reflection as a group. Prepare some weighty discussion questions for this time. Participants could also share parts of their letters with each other. Be sure to include a focus on what the Holy Spirit is saying to the group as a whole and to each individual through this trip. Ask these questions: 

  • What have we heard the Holy Spirit say throughout this trip? 
  • What are we being called to do when we go home as a response to the Holy Spirit? 
  • How is the Holy Spirit calling us to continue in ministry with this partner? 
  • How has our relationship with God changed during this trip? 
  • What will we do when we get home to continue growing in relationship with God? 
  • To whom will be accountable?

Just like going to a new place, returning home can be an adjustment. Your team may experience reverse culture shock. They may feel angry, frustrated, or guilty for all the things they have and the comfortable lifestyle they lead. 

Adjusting to being back home after a powerful mission experience

  • Encourage your team to take time to reflect on how their mission experience has changed their perspective on their own culture and lifestyle. If people express a desire to change, help them make a plan for how they can live into their new values or behaviors when they return home.
  • Plan reunion events where your team can process your mission experience together.
  • Many mission trip participants feel closer to God while on trips than they do at home. But you don’t have to be on a mission trip to be close to God. Challenge your team to stay close to God by taking time each day for devotions, journaling, Bible study, and prayer. 
  • Practice sharing your mission trip stories before you get back. How did God change you? Whom did you meet? Telling your mission trip story can be a powerful way to encourage people to go and serve. Make sure to share your mission trip experience with your church at a morning service after you return.
  • Brainstorm ways to stay involved with the ministry or organization you worked with on your trip. Is there a way your church can support this ministry? Could you serve with this ministry on another trip?
  • Pray for the people you met and served alongside on your trip. Ask your church to join you in praying for them.

Questions to help you process your mission trip experience:

  • How was your trip? 
  • What was the best thing about your trip?
  • What was the hardest thing about your trip?
  • What did God teach you on this trip?
  • How will this trip change your long-term goals?
  • How can you stay connected to the ministry you served on this trip?
  • How can you bring what you learned back to your congregation?
  • How can you stay involved with the people with whom you worked?
Want more trip planning support? Our short-term mission team would love to help.