Mission Trip Team-Building Activities
Team-building activities can help your mission trip team members bond and get to know one another. This is important because successful mission trips start with groups that know what their goals are and how to work together to reach them. By prioritizing relationship-building before your trip, you can encourage greater trust, vulnerability, and spiritual growth while you’re in the field and after you return home. Here are a few general suggestions for building relationships among your team, as well as some recommended team-building activities to complete during your pre-trip meetings.
General mission trip team-building suggestions
- Start team-building at least two to four months before your trip. If you are taking an international trip, start even earlier.
- Meet at least once a month with your team before the trip. Make these meetings a priority, or even a requirement.
- Emphasize that this trip is not a vacation. Prepare your team to work hard, build relationships, and be spiritually challenged.
- Make sure your team knows how to be flexible. Prepare them as best you can for the cultural differences they will encounter.
- Form prayer partnerships within your team. Have team members draw names from a hat to pick their prayer partners. Encourage them to pray for their partners before, during, and after the trip. You can also set aside some time at meetings for partners to pray together.
- Assign team members specific roles for the trip to distribute the work and use your team’s gifts well. Be sure to assign a co-leader who can take over for you in case of an emergency. (Possibly team roles could include keeping track of the team money, preparing team devotions, or carrying the first-aid kit.)
Get to know one another by having fun together.
- Cook a meal together. Choose something simple that can involve many people. This activity includes washing the dishes at the end!
- Play a name game. Stand in a circle and have everyone say their name and the name of an animal that starts with the same letter. Challenge people to repeat every person’s name and animal.
- Build marshmallow castles. Give teams of five or six people marshmallows, toothpicks, and straws. Challenge them to build a castle within a certain time limit.
- Take a trust walk. Divide people into groups of five or six. Blindfold all but one member of each group. Direct the blindfolded people to hold hands. Tell the people who can see to take their groups on a walk with verbal instructions only.
- Pack the team luggage and prepare any materials that you’ll be presenting, such as VBS activities, workshops, or lessons.
- Do show and tell. Ask each person to bring an item that reveals something about them and share how it describes who they are.
- Have your team take a spatial personality test. State two personality characteristics or preferences, and have people go to one side of the room or the other based on what characteristic fits them best. (Categories could include introvert/extrovert, dog person/cat person, etc.).
Discuss your trip and share faith stories.
- Have team members share their testimonies or personal faith stories. If a member of your team isn’t yet a Christian, encourage them to share stories about their life and why they chose to go on a mission trip.
- Role-play situations where things could go wrong on the trip. Talk about the emotions that arise and how those can be handled. You should also discuss how to handle homesickness, bad attitudes, and inappropriate language.
- Reflect together on what it means to be a team player.
- Share expectations, fears, and hopes for the trip.
- Talk about what “creature comforts” your team members feel are necessary. Discuss what they would do if those things aren’t available on the mission trip.
- Discuss your team’s various strengths, weaknesses, talents, and communication styles.
- Mission trips are a time when many people encounter the church and faith in a powerful new way, maybe for the first time. Make spaces for people who are not Christians to join your team and to share their stories and gifts. Frame their contributions positively, not as a second-best experience. You never know how these stories will resonate with other team members and the community you serve.
Study the Bible together.
Learn about working as a team by studying God’s Word together. Have your team discuss Scripture in small groups, then ask each group to share what they learned with the whole team afterward.
Suggested discussion questions:
- What does this Bible passage say about teamwork?
- According to this passage, what makes teamwork effective?
- According to this passage, what can have a negative effect on teamwork?
Suggested verses: 1 Corinthians 12:14-26; Matthew 18:15-17; Philippians 2:1-4; Galatians 5:22-23, 26; James 2:1-9.
Have different team members lead devotions at each meeting.
Pray as a group for God to help you form a team that works together and holds each other up. You can encourage each other and prepare spiritually for your trip as you pray. Try different types of prayers: call and response, everyone praying out loud at the same time, praying in different postures, etc.
Suggestions for what to pray:
- Pray for the community you are visiting.
- Pray that God would help you bring what you learn and experience on the trip back to your home community.
- Ask group members if they have specific prayer requests for the trip. Most people will be nervous or concerned about something, and many team members likely have similar worries.