Practical Guide to Debriefing Summer Mission Trips

Lazy summer days are filled with family vacations, kids camps, hiking, boating, the beach and reunions, right? But for churches it’s also the season for short-term mission trips, whether overseas in third world countries or in nearby cities and towns.

Short-term missions serve as a powerful catalyst to take youth (and adults) outside their natural environment and expose them to local and global realities that can empower their spiritual journey.  

Summer missions trips have become standard in many church calendars, but could the missions program at your church be improved? Returning summer missions’ teams can be a pastor’s best resource for answering that question.

August is a great time to evaluate how you can improve your missions programs for next summer. Touch the World provides some excellent resources for evaluating the effectiveness of your short-term mission trips with a simple 5-question test, STM Assessment: Are my trips effective?

Good debriefing can help pastors turn hindsight into foresight for next year. Here’s an excerpt from the Pastor’s Toolbox outlining six things to consider when debriefing your team:

  1. Keep it laid back. Most teams are ready for a “vacation” when they return, especially if they had a good trip. Debriefing is part of the adjustment process in returning to their normal lives or part of the process in deciding they don’t want their lives to be “normal” ever again.
  2. Keep outsiders to a minimum. Families and friends may not understand what your team went through on their trip. Later, team members may be ready to tell others about their experiences. But when they first return, they need people who will understand and sympathize.
  3. Verify logistic issues. Even the best laid plans have room for improvement. Did the team have enough to do, or did they have to improvise? Did they perhaps have too much to do? Did everyone come back healthy or were there injuries on the trip?
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. What happened on the trip? Did God show up in a significant way or did the team see it as a glorified vacation?
  5. Give them a new challenge. If you are successful, be prepared for your young people to be fired up and ready to do almost anything to change the world.
  6. Check with other pastors on their summer missions successes and failures. Since summer missions are so common, fall is a good time to ask other pastors about their trips. What was their focus for their summer missions?

Using Copyrighted Music

Since ministry teams often make videos with music of their experience to share when they return, part of your missions evaluation could also include whether or not copyrighted material was used. Many church and youth leaders find that making a CD or DVD provides a great way to introduce new music or capture memories of your events.

Making CDs and DVDs

When you enhance your ministries through the use of CDs or DVDs, you need to secure the appropriate licensing to legally use third party copyrights. Unless a song is in the Public Domain, you must secure a synchronization license to include it in your video, or a mechanical license for CD or MP3 recordings. In addition, if you use someone else’s sound recording, you must secure a master synchronization license. In both cases, you may contact the copyright holder directly for licensing. You can download CCS’s FREE “Copyright Checklist” Fact Sheet for detailed information on how to get these licenses.

Legally Webcasting Your Ministry’s Performances

Your ministry or mission trip can have an even greater impact when you share your activities with the world via the Internet. However, it’s important to keep in mind that licensing is required to legally webcast Internet song performances of copyrighted music. Again, you are free to contact each individual song owner for each song use, but many ministry leaders find this to be an extremely cumbersome, time-consuming process. CCS’s WORSHIPCast License is a one-stop blanket license that gives you a simple way to be copyright compliant and includes more than 20 million songs from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC catalogs.

Church leaders are often overwhelmed and confused by copyright issues. Analyzing your level of compliance may be at the bottom of a long list of priorities, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually talk to a live person about your copyright needs? That’s exactly why we are offering a FREE 20-minute consultation.  Call 1-877-394-5566 to schedule your FREE Consultation today!

CCS’s Founder and CVO, Susan Fontaine Godwin is an educator and long-time member of the Christian arts community with 30 years of experience in the Christian media industry, church copyright administration and copyright management. Susan is an author and speaker and frequently writes for several Christian magazines and online publications. She serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Mobile.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s quest is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches, as well as representation, administration and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

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