Volunteers: Plan Your Trip

RCA Short-Term Mission supports congregations and equips volunteers for service with RCA missionaries and mission partners.

We work with volunteers throughout the planning process, providing support on field and helping ensure effective debriefing and follow-through. (Contact us for these services.) Our focus is on long-term impact for all participants, including volunteers, sending churches, financial supporters, host missionary/mission partners, and the community where volunteers are serving.

Do you have a great resource that you have developed or that you recommend? Let our team know and help us build our volunteer toolbox!

Good resources can make life easier for you as a volunteer or volunteer coordinator. Check out these recommended resources to help with your planning, serving on the mission field, and coming back home.

Volunteer Toolkit: What to know before you go

Short-Term Missions

General Mission Resources

Cultural Competency

Next Generation

Long-Term Volunteers

SENT devotions



Short-Term Missions

Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions: These seven standards are a vital tool to help your church or missions organization evaluate and strengthen your short-term missions program. This is one of our most highly recommended resources. The RCA is a member of the SOE and is in the process of becoming accredited.

Maximum Impact Short-Term Mission
If there was a college textbook on short-term missions, this would be it. This is an excellent resource to help you organize a short-term mission trip with high-level kingdom impact and across-the-board effectiveness.

Getting Ready to Come Back: Advocacy Guide for Mission Team
Bread for the World
This guide will help short-term mission teams traveling internationally to understand how political, social, and economic systems contribute to hunger and poverty. The guide will support and encourage mission teams to engage in advocacy upon their return home. Copies are available at link above or by contacting us.

Mission Trips that Matter: Embodied Faith for the Sake of the World
by Don C. Richter. Upper Room Books.
Richter describes how individuals on a mission trip can become servant-guests who embody Christ's love. To support that process, Richter provides a number of aids: spiritual practices, mission trip stories, key biblical passages, and activity and reflection suggestions for the journey. It’s a must read for all mission trip leaders. 

The Spiritual Side of Mission Work Grouping
Designed for mission team leaders, this online article offers specific ways you may want to help your team members nurture their faith individually and corporately.

Transforming Ventures: A Spiritual Guide for Volunteers in Mission
by Jane Ives. Upper Room Books.
Designed for use by adult volunteers and leaders of youth volunteers, this book encourages participants to explore eight themes for spiritual growth before, during, and after their mission experience. The book works for individuals and small study groups.

Why Most Mission Trips Are a Waste of Time (And How to Make Sure Yours Isn’t)
by Noel Becchetti.
To make sure your mission trip is a wise and effective investment of your time, energy, and resources, keep these three principles in mind.


General Mission Resources

When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself
Churches and individual Christians typically have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, resulting in the use of strategies that do considerable harm to poor people and themselves. Don't let this happen to you, your ministry, or ministries you help fund! When Helping Hurts is a great resource for anyone who works with the poor or in missions.

Reformed Church in Mission Prayer Cards 
Profiles on RCA missionaries and special projects are available in bulk for free; contact nellens@rca.org or call (616) 698-7071. Information is also available online.

Care for Vunerable Children
We are passionate about improving care for vulnerable children and families, and we know that doing this well on a short-term mission trip can be challenging. The resources below should help prepare your group for engaging communities with vulnerable children in a healthy way.
Short Term Missions Guidance to Support Orphans & Vulnerable Children
ACCI Short Term Missions Manual​​​​​​​


Cultural Competency

Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence
Short-term mission trips are great ways to impact the kingdom. Yet they can lack effectiveness because of mistakes or naiveté on the part of participants. In this insightful book, David A. Livermore calls us to serve with our eyes open to global and cultural realities so we can become more effective cross-cultural ministers. Serving with Eyes Wide Open is a must-have book for anyone doing a short-term mission or service project, whether domestic or overseas. 

Foreign to Familiar: A Guide to Understanding Hot - And Cold - Climate Cultures
Foreign to Familiar is a well-written, well-researched work on cultures. Anyone traveling abroad should not leave home without this valuable resource! This book creates a greater appreciation for our extended families around the world and an increased desire to better understand them.

Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships
by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayers. Baker Book House.
Mayers' basic-values model provides the theoretical base for this approach to improving relationships between people of various cultures.


Next Generation

Deep Justice Journeys Leader's Guide: 50 Activities to Move from Mission Trips to Missional Living 
This curriculum and student journal helps leaders prepare students for what to expect on their mission trip, allows students to reflect on their experiences, and enables them to genuinely debrief.

Deep Justice Journeys Student Journal
This is the accompanying student journal to Deep Justice Journeys Leader’s Guide.

Deep Justice in a Broken World: Helping Your Kids Serve Others and Right the Wrongs around Them 
Deep social justice is possible in your youth ministry. Mission trips, service projects, and supporting children through relief organizations are just a few of the ways that many youth workers engage their students in serving the least, the last, and the lost. As good and helpful as these things may be on the surface, that’s where they remain—at the surface. The problems run far deeper than an occasional paint job or fundraising project can solve—but it’s not hopeless.


Long-Term Volunteers

Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home
by Peter Jordan. YWAM Publishing.
This book is designed to help people safely navigate the transition from the mission field to home. The book addresses practical things that should be taken care of before leaving the mission field, as well as how to handle things once arriving home.

Survival Kit for Overseas Living, Fourth Edition: For Americans Planning to Live and Work Abroad
by L. Robert Kohls. Nicholas Brealey Publishing/Intercultural Press.
Kohls provides insights and strategies on how to avoid stereotypes, how to explore the mysteries of culture, and how values and different ways of thinking influence behavior.

Volunteer Toolkit


Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about the RCA's short-term mission opportunities for individuals and groups, please get in touch with us.

The best way to reach our team is to email shortermmission@rca.org or call (616) 698-7071. One of the members of our team will be able to connect with you right away.

Stephanie Soderstrom

Coordinator for Short-Term Mission

Molly Towne

Short-Term Mission Placement Specialist

Erika Spykman

Administrative Assistant

Cultivate is a program for 18- to 25-year-olds to partner with RCA missionaries for a summer or a full year and see how God is at work in another part of the globe.