With more and more ways to share content every day, it can be overwhelming to think about how to best document and share your mission trip. Here are some important things to consider:
Before you go…
1. Think through your purpose.
What are your reasons for documenting your trip? Possible reasons are endless: saving memories, networking, keeping in touch with the people you worked with, reporting to your church, sharing with your supporters, recording what you learned as a springboard for service at home, raising awareness for a cause or ministry, or whatever else comes to mind for you.
2. Determine your audience.
Your audience will stem directly from your purpose. How public do you want your documentation to be? Do you want to share with close family and friends and your church community, or would you welcome sharing with strangers as well? Different kinds of trips may lend themselves to different kinds of sharing.
3. Decide on your medium and tools.
Blog? Video? Instagram? Newsletter? Photo collage? Illustrations? Decide on a medium that you feel comfortable working in and then consider your tools. Will you need any equipment, such as a camera or film gear? Do you want to use your existing social media accounts, or would it make more sense to set up a mission trip-specific blog or platform? Don’t forget your purpose and your audience in making these decisions.
During your trip…
1. Record raw media.
Take a pic, write some notes, film footage, do some quick sketches. When you’re on the field, each day can be quick and full of the unexpected. Make sure you’re ready at all times to record the significant moments. If you’re not able to record live, keep your observations and interactions as fresh in your mind as possible and jot down what feels most important as soon as you have the chance.
All of the best-laid plans can fall apart once you’re on the ground and actually in the thick of your environment. If you find that your medium isn’t conducive to what you’re dealing with, switch it up. Consider what organic materials you can use to record information and honor your subjects.
3. Take care not to privilege media over the ministry.
This is the big one. Sharing about your trip is valuable, but ministry is more. If you find that your documentation becomes a distraction, seek help from your team leader about how you can adapt your strategy to keep the focus on service. Never engage in documentation that is detrimental to your team or to the people you came to serve. Remember you are not a tourist!
After you return home…
1. Pray, reflect and edit.
Ask God for direction on what and how to share to best advance his kingdom, glorify his name, and honor his people. Even though you may love every second of footage you shot or photo you took, sharing everything is rarely the best way to get to the heart of what you want to share. As each trip is different, focus on telling the unique story of your mission trip. Consider tried-and-true storytelling techniques: emphasize characters, timeline, cause and effect, ethos, pathos and logos, include a strong beginning and end. Have a clear message.
2. Alert your audience before you share.
While you may have had the time and resources to share some stories live from the field, make some set times where you share more in-depth about your experience. Let people know beforehand when you will share so they can plan to attend, tune in or retweet.
Share, share, share. Ask God to show up in a big way.