One of the somewhat current popular tags that can be seen on many facebook posts is Sunday Funday. Don’t look the phrase up on urban dictionary, or it may become a less tasteful tag! However, the common use of the term seems to indicate that Sunday should be a day to spend with friends or family doing something fun. Why this has developed in society is hard to pinpoint because TGIF used to be the popular tag. Apparently, society is not having enough fun on Friday or Saturday, so a new reason to extend the celebration must be created. Christians have to consider whether Sunday can still be Funday if spent at church, or else they question whether attending church causes them to miss out on extending their fun days into Sunday.
Although it is not the purpose of short-term mission trips, it seems that a good short-term mission trip can really turn Sunday into Funday. In fact, Sunday Funday can last for a week if being done in the context of a short-term trip! The trick is designing a short-term mission trip in the best way possible so that it can be effective ministry and still fun.
Here are some top tips for making sure the next short-term mission trip that your church promotes can really turn Sunday into Funday!
1) Be sure that your short-term trip has a clear vision and purpose that fits with your overall longer term missions vision.
“Fun” may seem to be something that is completely spontaneous, but the true fun will come when a clear vision has developed about which the short-term mission team can dream, study, understand, and engage. It is what makes the team have fun together because they know they are working towards a common goal and can see and base results on that goal and vision. They can be excited about being part of the larger missions vision of the church.
2) Be sure that your short-term mission team has had proper preparation and training.
How much fun is it to go hiking without the proper clothing? How much fun is it to hop in the car without hotel reservations only to spend hours searching when the inn is truly full? How much fun is it to run out of gas because you forgot to check the gauge? It may sound obvious, but a really fun mission trip is one in which the entire team is clear on what to expect (both culturally and logistically) and has prepared for all activities. If one considers a wedding, at least half of the fun is in the planning! The same can be true for any good short-term mission trip in which the group has studied missions principles together and has prepared for all the logistics needed.
3) Consider adding a true “fun” activity to your agenda for the mission trip.
Trying a new local restaurant or shopping at a specific market can be a nice tag along to an agenda full of ministry opportunities. Although the short-term mission team should not really plan their agenda around “fun” activities, that does not mean those activities should be excluded from the entire trip schedule. After all, one important goal of any short-term trip is to learn about a new culture.
4) Consider the place to where the trip is being taken and the organization with whom you will be working, and try to assess whether this is part of a longer term plan for the missions ministry.
There are some who go on spring break and have fun with people they will never meet again, but most people do not consider that true, deep fun. The same can be true for having fun on a short-term trip. The deeper and more long-term the relationship is with the group going and the place in which they will serve, the deeper the fun that can be had because of an ongoing ministry relationship.
5) Plan to be flexible! Nobody considers Nervous Nellie to be the fun person in the group, so plans are needed.
At the same time, planning can be done with a focus on planning to be flexible. Any kind of travel, including the travel associated with a short-term mission trip, is much more fun if there is allowance for flexibility as needed. Luggage may be lost, supplies for the backyard Bible club may not arrive, and there may come a flood that cancels your evangelistic block party! However, making plans and then planning to be flexible will allow everyone to relax and create the best formula for fun together.
6) Take all ages on the short-term trip. Some of the best fun comes from having children in our midst!
Maybe all short-term mission trips aren’t suitable for families with children. However, each church should offer some trips for all people, even if all trips aren’t for all people. The true fun comes in blending ages and stages of life!
Sunday Funday may continue to be a societal norm in terms of photo tagging for days at the park and time spent at the bowling alley. Christians can look forward to the day when the latest short-term mission trip tag becomes Sunday Funday! Serving together with purpose, preparation, fun activities, developing a longer term relationship, combining ages, and planning to be flexible all create a truly fun environment that will foster great growth. Then each participant could truly put #SundayFunday on any short-term mission trip experience!
Kirsten McClain serves as a church missions consultant with OMF. She has been serving churches and mission agencies for the last 20 years. Kirsten has a heart to see the church realize her potential in missions and is driven to be a mobilizer to this end. She lives in Georgia with her husband and three children, and she is ready to direct pastors to the various resources that OMF offers at no charge to churches and pastors in order to come alongside churches and individuals so that they can do missions well. firstname.lastname@example.org