about the missions programs of Experience Mission
We want you to feel great about partnering with Experience Mission for your mission trip experience. Below are a few basic questions about our organization. Read more about EM’s mission and guiding values on the About Us section of our website.
What types of trips and programs does Experience Mission offer?
Experience Mission offers week-long short-term mission trips for groups of youth and adults across the U.S. and around the globe. We also offer 1-9 month IMMERSION and Gap Year programs for individual young adults (age 18-30) seeking a longer experience. Each program seeks to engage people to serve, while developing leaders, and empowering communities. EM also runs an education initiative in Haiti called RISING, which empowers young people to build a better future for themselves and their families.
How does EM create a positive and meaningful experience for communities receiving mission trip teams?
At Experience Mission, we place a heavy emphasis on building relationships and maintaining the dignity of each person that is served on a trip. This is evident throughout EM’s 3 Focuses as an organization and integral to our approach to missions.
Which denominations does Experience Mission partner with?
Experience Mission is an interdenominational Christian non-profit organization. We are not directly affiliated with any specific denomination, and participants from all denominations or Christian backgrounds are welcome on EM mission trips, including both protestant and Catholic mission trip groups. To learn more about EM’s beliefs and missions philosophy, see our statement of faith and approach to missions.
Who does Experience Mission partner with around the world?
In each mission trip community, whether domestically or internationally, Experience Mission partners with a wide variety of local churches and outreach organizations who are serving and ministering year-round. We call this “joining a community in motion.” We believe this allows mission trip teams the opportunity to encourage local leaders while furthering their ministries with additional resources and time. It also helps dispel the notion that any one group of volunteers is “saving” a particular community with their week, month, or year of service. When we serve alongside people doing the work on an ongoing basis, we are able to see our small part in furthering their mission and vision while remaining open to what community partners and the people we meet can teach us about life and faith.
Why go on a mission trip?
While we understand the complex history of short term mission trips, we believe that mission trips, when done in a healthy way, are more important now than ever before. We wrote down our reasons why here: Why Go on a Mission Trip?
IMMERSION is an immersive missions program for individual young adults aged 18-30. Team members experience different cultures, meet new people, and serve others with their lives as they grow in their faith and discover who they were created to be. For questions related to specific trips, explore upcoming IMMERSION programs or contact us with specific questions.
Experience Mission partners with Christian groups from a variety of faith traditions and denominational backgrounds who all have one thing in common: A desire to serve others and grow in their faith. For logistical purposes and to keep mission trips healthy for all involved, our week-long mission trips have some requirements about age groups and team size.
What size group is able to go on a 1-2 week mission trip?
Each EM partner community has slightly different requirements regarding the minimum and maximum team size we are able to bring on a given week. In general, most communities require groups to be at least 6 people, with some international communities requiring a minimum of 15. Specific numbers can be found by exploring EM’s mission trip communities. If your group meets the minimum team size, you can select any dates listed for your trip. If your team falls below the minimum team size, your group may still be able to join a week where the minimum team size has been met by a larger team. (Individuals are not able to be matched up with groups—see below.) Trips for small teams can be found in the “Upcoming Trip Dates” section, under the "Small Teams" tab on each community page. In select communities, we will allow teams of 3 or more.
Can I come on a mission trip as an individual?
We’re sorry, but we cannot take individuals on any 1-2 week mission trips. All members of a short-term mission trip must be part of a team of at least six (6) people. If you are an individual with a desire to serve, we encourage you to check out our IMMERSION program (adults age 18-30) or to gather a group of 6 or more people to serve as a team on the trip of your choice. For privacy and logistical reasons, we are unable to match individuals with existing teams on any 1-2 week trips.
Who provides supervision of minors during 1-2 week mission trips?
Experience Mission staff are on location to take care of logistics and facilitate your mission trip. However, EM staff is not able to be responsible for the supervision of minors on your team. If you represent a youth and family mission trip team that includes any volunteers under the age of 18, you will be responsible to have an appropriate amount of adult chaperones to lead and watch over your students at all times. Adult leaders must be present during all work projects, outreach opportunities, meal times, and during free times throughout the day both at and away from housing facilities.
What adult-to-student ratio does EM recommend for a 1-2 week mission trip?
To ensure your students have the best possible trip, it is important for them to have the right amount of adult leadership. For high school (Sr. High) teams, we recommended a minimum student-to-adult ratio of 7:1. That's seven students for each adult leader. For middle school (Jr. High) teams, the recommended minimum student to adult ratio is 5:1—five students to each adult leader. You can always have more adult leaders on your team if you wish.
Does my group need to include someone over the age of 21?
All teams with someone under the age of 18 must also have a team member over the age of 21 to serve as the adult leader in charge of any minors on the trip. Groups of young adults between the ages of 18-20 may go on a trip without someone over the age of 21.
Is a background check required for adult mission trip participants?
To ensure the safety of all mission trip participants and community members, a Criminal Background Check (national and state) is required for all participants 18 and older. EM does not run or collect background checks, but we do require a written letter from your church or team leader verifying that all participants 18 and older have passed a recent background check prior to serving on your mission trip. Background checks need to be run within the last three years and new letters verifying that background checks have been run must be submitted to EM before each mission trip. Background checks are run and paid for by the team coming to serve, not by Experience Mission. Click here for more specific details regarding background checks.
Are kids allowed to participate on EM mission trips?
Special permission must be given by Experience Mission for children outside of the specified age range of the trip (Junior High, High School, Adult, etc.) In the case that a child does come, they must be accompanied by a parent, and their parent must take full responsibility for the child at all times. Children 10 and under may have price breaks on a case-by-case basis. Contact us to talk to our mission trip support team about specific details.
We strive to make each mission trip a great experience filled with growth and learning for mission teams and community members alike! Here are some common questions about what to expect during your mission trip.
How will my team grow on a mission trip?
While personal growth looks different for each mission trip participant, we hope that each person will learn to love and serve others more like Jesus — not just during the week you serve, but in every area of your life back home.
Many teams also bond with each other while serving together, grow in their faith through encounters with the community and each other, and learn more about the world around them by traveling to a new community with its own unique culture and history. We hope that each participant walks away with a greater understanding of God’s heart for each person in the world and how you might “live your mission” back home and in the future.
Are mission trip participants allowed to use phones and/or take photos throughout the week?
Generally, yes! We leave the specific rules about phone usage for team leaders to discern what is best and most healthy for their group. We do ask that any taking of photos or use of media afterward honors the dignity of each community member, seeking to shine a light on people by telling an accurate and rich story about them instead of reducing anyone to cliches or stereotypes. In some communities, it is culturally respectful and required to ask permission before taking photos. We’ve written a blog about How to Use Social Media on Your Mission Trip to help give teams a better picture of how to approach this in a healthy way.
Are there any opportunities for fun throughout the week?
Typically, “leisure days” are not built into the weekly schedule for EM mission trips. But don’t be fooled! Mission teams typically have a blast during the week as they serve together. There are many opportunities to experience the local community and gain a better appreciation for local culture and history, which vary based on the community. Groups enjoy meeting community members, sharing meals together, spending downtime in the evening together, and even sneaking away for occasional ice cream breaks (a must in Webster Springs, West Virginia, home of the famous Custard Stand!) or sharing a bonfire in the evening (a regular occurrence in on the Navajo Reservation in Black Mesa, Arizona).
Due to the large volume of teams coming to serve during the summer months and the need to prepare on a regular basis for each team, we ask that teams limit their time to the dates of their trip. If you choose to extend your trip by a day or more for sightseeing or other various activities, EM will NOT be able to provide meals, housing, or plan additional group activities for your team beyond the typical trip schedule. All additional days and logistics for activities will be the sole responsibility of the team. However, our mission trip support team is happy to recommend local attractions and accommodations for you to consider. Just ask!
Do 1-2 week mission trip teams ever work with other groups?
If your team does not fill the trip to its full capacity, there is a good possibility that you will be working alongside another team or 2. Teams serving with other groups should plan to eat meals together, have evening debrief time together, and share sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities. It’s important to note that each team will be treated as a separate group for project worksites, and at no time will adult chaperones be responsible for minors outside of their own group.
Will teams serving in communities together be combined on worksites?
Typically, mission teams are not combined on worksites. However, it is sometimes necessary to mix teams due to the size or scope of the project. If teams are mixed at the worksite, an adult leader from each team will be a part of that mix to provide oversight for their team members. Overall, we try to match teams together of similar age groups (Sr. High with Sr. High. etc.), but if the occasion arises where an additional team desiring to come on a selected trip is composed of an altogether different age group than the original team who registered, the first team will be notified.
Is children's ministry a part of every mission trip?
Whether or not children's ministry is a part of your trip largely depends on the community where you are serving. Many rural communities offer children's ministry (“Kids Club”) as an option for team participation. In most urban communities, Kids Club is an integral part of the program and participation by volunteer teams is required. There are also a few EM mission trip communities where Kids Club is part of scheduled service opportunities.
Due to the varying schedules of local children throughout the school year, EM does not offer Kids Club in most communities during the "off-season" months of September - May. For specific information about Kids Club in the community you are serving in and looking into, refer to the "Trip Activities" section of any community page. To view EM’s most-recent Kids Club curriculum and expectations, click here.
Who will lead my 1-2 week mission trip on the ground?
During most spring and summer domestic mission trips, an Experience Mission staff team of 1-3 people will be in the community to lead your team. These staff members are normally present in the community throughout most of the spring or summer and work alongside EM's Community Partners there to ensure that trips run as smoothly as possible. The EM Staff takes care of vital details like organizing projects and materials, preparing meals, making sure housing and bathrooms are ready, and any other logistical details that may arise.
During most international mission trips, an Experience Mission staff team made up of local community members will lead and guide your team. Locally led mission trips in international communities have shown to produce incredibly healthy relationships between volunteer teams and the people you meet, inviting team members into the community to share customs, food, worship, and life together.
What happens in the evenings on EM mission trips?
Most EM mission trips include a daily debrief and reflection time in the evening led by EM staff, called “Evening Gathering”, which is set aside for worship, prayer, and a short devotional discussion. This may include videos, stories, scripture reading, group discussion, or all of the above. While musical worship is something we like to see incorporated into this time, Experience Mission does not provide this component. We ask teams to bring guitars and plan to lead worship when able. The Evening Gathering normally lasts between 30-60 minutes. Following this, there is additional time for individual teams to meet together, have fun, and deal with any team issues or questions. We make this time a priority for you to spend with your team.
Due to staffing limitations, Evening Gathering will not be offered during our off-season months of September - May. You are free to lead your team in a time of worship and devotions of your choosing in place of Evening Gathering.
We strive to support mission teams through every step of their journey! This includes some trip logistics where teams are responsible for taking the lead. Here are some answers to common questions we hope will provide a starting point for you.
Can I create a custom mission trip?
Is transportation included on EM mission trips?
For U.S. mission trips, mission teams are responsible to cover their own transportation (to, from, and while in your community). You will need access to vehicles throughout the entire week to transport your team to various locations for work and ministry. We do not recommend using a school bus as your sole means of transportation in most locations due to parking and travel limitations.
For international mission trips, all transportation is included upon arrival to your international location. Teams are responsible to cover the booking and cost of round-trip airfare for all team members to the destination airport. NOTE: IMMERSION team members are only required to pay for their domestic travel to the initial training location and home from the debrief location. All international flights are covered in the IMMERSION trip cost.
Can my team arrive a day early or stay a day late on a 1-2 week mission trip?
Due to the large volume of mission teams coming to serve during the summer months and the need to prepare on a regular basis for each team, we ask that teams limit their time to the dates of their trip. If you choose to extend your trip by a day or more for sightseeing or other various activities, EM will NOT be able to provide meals, housing, or plan additional group activities for your team beyond the typical trip schedule. All additional days and logistics for activities will be the sole responsibility of the team. However, our mission trip support team is happy to recommend local attractions and accommodations for you to consider.
What additional expenses should I expect for my 1-2 week mission trip team?
All basic necessities such as food, housing, work project materials, and Kids Club curriculum are included in your trip fee.
Additional expenses include:
Transportation - Transportation to the community (airfare or vehicle rental) is not included for any 1-2 week trip. In-country ground transportation is included on international mission trips. During all domestic mission trips, teams should also budget for vehicles and gas. Volunteer teams are expected to provide their own transportation during the week to drive their team to and from the worksites and Kids Club locations as well as any additional extracurricular locations. Please note that in rural locations, such as Appalachia or Navajo Nation communities, work sites can be very spread out and extra gas may be required.
Kids Club - If your team is participating in “Kids Club”, EM’s children’s ministry curriculum, your team will be responsible to bring snacks and supplies needed for the specific crafts designated to your team. Your team will be provided with assigned Kids Club lessons in the months leading up to your trip.
Entry & Exit Fees - Teams traveling internationally may be required to pay an “entry fee” or “exit fee” when leaving the country. These fees can vary, but generally range between $25-$45 per person. If this applies to your trip, you will be notified by EM mission trip support staff.
Background Checks for Adults - All mission trip teams are required to run background checks and send in a confirmation letter vouching for all team members age 18 or older. These are run at the expense of the team. If your church has background checks on file from any time over the last 3 years, you will not be required to run new ones prior to your trip. Learn more about EM's background check policy.
When should I plan to arrive in and depart from the community the week of my 1-2 week mission trip?
For domestic mission trips, your team should plan to arrive between 3pm and 5pm on the first day of your selected trip. Your trip officially starts with dinner and is typically followed by an orientation meeting. Departure takes place after breakfast on the last day of the trip.
For international mission trips, arrival and departure times are specific to each community. These times will be provided to your team after you Register for the trip (or can be looked up by EM mission trip support staff upon request). If you have difficulty finding flights that fit into your community’s specific travel time frame, please contact EM before booking your flight to make special arrangements.
You must have a group size of at least 6 members to join this trip. Please view the Small Team trips or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.
For most trips, you must have a group size of at least 6 members. Please view the Small Teams tab on each Community page or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.