Support Articles

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Should you cancel or reschedule that short-term mission trip?
For most of us, the decision to cancel or reschedule a short-term mission trip was made for us with the cancellation of international flights and other quarantines. That still left the remaining question of having to simply cancel the trip all together or reschedule it for a later date. Both have their reasons and both have their benefits. Let’s unpack the two sides to better assess which might be best for your organization.   Here are a few times when it's good to strongly consider CANCELLING? When it’s time specific When the team you’re visiting isn’t on the field any longer When there are fixed variables Project was time sensitive   Here are a few times when it's good to strongly consider RESCHEDULING? Because of government travel restrictions Because it’s the wise thing to do When you have a flexible team, team leaders, field host, and logistics   Have you made your decision yet? Here are a few questions you could/should be asking: Is it possible to reschedule? Do you want to reschedule the trip? Would participants be able to reschedule? Can we accomplish the same goal if we reschedule? How much work will it be to reschedule the trip (and is it worth it)? What are our absolutes for rescheduling? Hopefully, for those of you considering cancelling or rescheduling, we've helped you unpack the two sides to better assess which might be best for your organization.    This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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Finding peace in Christ so you can care for your team
For many going on a mission trip is a monumental step. I went on my first trip my freshman year of high school and it changed the trajectory of my life. Maybe they come from a family of missionaries, or a friend/mentor has gone on one and they want to go on one as well. Maybe they are simply following the way of Jesus and going. Regardless of the reason, mission trips can hold a lot of emotion with them whether expressed or not. For this reason, it is imperative that we do everything we can as not just leaders, but as guides to walk with those entrusted to us through the ups and downs of a cancelled trip. You need, especially during this time, to care for your team.  Specifically, in light of current events there are even more questions and fears that come up with mission trips. Many participants may be thinking, will I ever get to go again. There is so much planning for those outside of vocational ministry that goes into going on short-term mission trips. From babysitters, to boarding pets, personal time off at work, school schedules, sport schedules, maybe even family holidays. For many, the stars have to align just to be able to follow what they believe God is calling them too. It is so important to keep this in mind when communicating the cancellation of a trip and subsequently walking with those through this because with the cancelling comes almost a gut punch after so much prep work. Caring for their heart in the midst of this is crucial. People are looking to you for answers and the first way I would say you would care for their heart: care for your own. I know I know, we all know this, but seriously, are you? If not that’s ok and you’re probably not alone, but go ahead and start somewhere—anywhere. If you are not taking time to pray and be in God’s word before you start your day or even making each phone call may I just encourage you, start, now. We all know that the bible is not going to give you a necessarily clean-cut answer for questions concerning travel or refunds, but is that what all of this is about? In the midst of the chaos it can be hard to find a time to do things that bring you joy. Can I encourage you real quick? Fight for space to breathe, to take joy in God’s creation. Take a walk through the park. Call the friend you’ve been meaning to call. If we cannot stop and realize that this too shall pass, then we will only grow short and impatient with those we serve. As you have cared for your own heart, you can now welcome the ability and space to care for your leaders and participants. The most important piece in this: listen. Right, of course, we all listen, but are we really listening? Are we hearing their heart? The frustration, panic, worry, disappointment. The plans that have to be cancelled, the work they will have to go through to change all those plans. Let’s be honest, we all just want to be heard. So be patient, listen to the questions and hear the heart of your people. So we have cared for our hearts, listened to the heart of those we are entrusted with, now what? Encourage. Specifically, in light of the pandemic today. Look at Colossians 1:16-17: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” The phrase that has been on my mind and I have shared with a few people: there is great peace in knowing Jesus. Encourage your team and remind them who is in control and that none of this surprises Him.   This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
Your role as a leader in short-term missions—especially during a crisis.
No matter what your official title might be for your role in short-term missions, you are a more than ever. It’s important to remember that people are desperately looking for direction in a time like this and amazingly, they will likely do what you suggest. Perhaps another way to think of yourself is a guide...someone who is walking a few steps ahead of others, someone who has a plan, and someone who knows the path. And here’s the great thing, you only need to know the path a little better than everyone else to help guide them well. Leading well So this begs the question, how do you lead well? There are many attributes of leadership that we could discuss here but let’s focus on a few that intersect the most with the current circumstances. Transparency: don’t hold the cards of information close to yourself (either from participants or other team members). Share what you know and share it openly and quickly. Far too often, people hold onto information as some form of capital. Leaders share information quickly so those who are following have the tools to make the best decisions on their own. Be transparent about what you know, what you’re hearing from partners, your concerns, alternate plans for the future, and so on. It’s really a matter of honoring other people well when you are transparent. Communicate: we all know this but if you think you are over communicating then you’re closer to where you should be. You might want to consider building a weekly communication plan as a means to touch base with everyone about the current status, how things are looking for future plans, what your partner groups are doing, how they can stay engaged, and anything else that could help them. It’s always better to communicate out to your constituents before they are requesting information from you. Engage: everyone is feeling like a caged animal right now. Remember that your offering of short-term missions trips has a goal for people to use their skills for something bigger. You don’t offer short-term trips so people can see the world - you offer them to make a difference. In a similar light, you can be engaging and encouraging people to make a difference right here and right now. Check out some of the suggestions later in this resource.   These are simply a few suggestions. Just remember that you are a leader and people are looking to you to lead them and to guide them. People want to be led, especially by people they know and trust. And even as these are uncertain times for all of us, you still have an incredibly unique opportunity to lead others well.   This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
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How to handle fear and news in light of a pandemic
Depending on which news source and which day, it may appear as if the world is ending. Amidst this crisis (or the next one), how do we respond internally to what is going on around us? What should be our response as those who follow Christ? Although there is plenty of guidance out there on the handling of this pandemic, one area we wanted to walk through is what is this doing to our soul, how should we respond both internally and externally, and what role Jesus might be asking us to take. A verse that has been helpful to me during this time is Isaiah 41:13, “I am the Lord your God, who takes you by the right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’”. Everyone who has a relationship with Christ Jesus has a direct line to wisdom, strength, courage, and hope regardless of the situation we find ourselves in. We have put a few of our thoughts together below, but please know that if you go to Him, there is wisdom and direction for the days and weeks ahead specific to your situation (James 1:5). First, spend some time in listening prayer Take a few moments each day in the quiet of your house or car to create opportunities to give your soul some rest. If you are like most of us, you go from moment to moment with hardly even 15 minutes for lunch. The isolation required of today allows us to take a moment to pause... take advantage of it! Give yourself some room to pause, pray, and listen each day (even if it is just one minute in your car before you go into work or enter your home... take some deep breaths and allow a quiet moment to align yourself to God). Ask for wisdom, understanding, and peace that surpasses understanding. Second, release this to God There is a phrase popularized by John Eldredge lately where he simply prays, “Jesus, I give everyone and everything to you”. Repeat that a few times when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Practice benevolent detachment by releasing patience, tragedy, or strong emotions to Him. Consider Matthew 11:30 and ask how Jesus might lighten your burden during these stressful times. Third, consider your response We are called to be light and salt to this world. There are neighbors, friends, family, co-workers, and community members who are completely freaked out and afraid during this time. Additionally, the necessary action of socially distancing ourselves will add to the fear, despair, and loneliness of those around us. Find practical ways to love and be light during this dark time. Consider even small actions, like texting neighbors, making a meal/cookies for them, or just letting them know that you are thinking of them. Check in on neighbors, especially those that might be isolated. If you feel like taking additional steps, consider inviting them to dinner, board games, iced tea on the porch, etc (follow CDC guidelines though!). Even if you want to sit 6 feet apart on your back deck to minimize contact, any socialization will feel like light in this dark time. Be smart about your actions, but also recognize that this is an ideal time for Christ followers to help lighten others burdens, ease their fear, and help share the hope that we have... and last we checked, viruses don’t spread via phone calls or text messages, so even small steps can be meaningful. :-) Wherever your heart may be these days, remember that we have someone who created us and formed us before we had taken our first breath. Perhaps, like the tribe of Issachar (I Chronicles 12:32), we can be a people who understand the time and can see the path ahead. Or perhaps like Esther, we can consider where we have been put into our jobs, neighborhood, church, community, and family for “just a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Most of all, during this time of isolation, know that you are never alone. Although the road before us is difficult, there is someone we can rely on for strength and understanding. Remember the promises of God, and, as appropriate, share that hope with others. Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). Blessings on you as we journey together and lead others toward health in the weeks and months ahead. This is just one post of many we'll be doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.
9 super-practical ideas to get people excited before, during, and after mission trips.
I've heard it said, "If you have a clear vision, you know you will find the right strategy...Without a clear vision, no amount of effort will fix the vision." We're confident your mission and vision is clear and your leadership is excellent, which means if your teams are struggling in this area, then we need look at how equipped they are to carry your vision forward. Are people excited about mission trips?  There are some great vision and mission statements out there. Here are a few statements from organizations and churches we work with:  North Point Community Church: Life is complicated. You want to get it right. We want to help! Samaritan's Purse: Helping in Jesus' Name InterVarsity: a vibrant campus ministry that establishes and advances witnessing communities of students and faculty. Who can't get excited about these missions right?  Whether it be medical mission trips or short-term missions at church, so often us leaders feel the burden to push our vision and mission forward yet we forget our members are catalysts of our vision for the next mission trip. How can we get (and keep) our teams and are people excited and sharing mission trips?  My guess is, you're probably already doing some of these. And, this list isn't exhaustive by any means. I hope the ideas here will make you think of other ideas you can do to get your people on fire for missions. Note: if you're already doing some of these things on the list, great, make sure you're doing them well!  Here are nine (9) practical ways to get people excited about mission trips: Place on website: Make sure your vision is front and center on your website but also make sure it’s presented in a way that invites people into that vision. Cherry Hills Community Church in Colorado knows a thing or two about communicating the missional vision using their website. Protip: make sure your mission and vision are on your homepage. We see so many churches and organizations "hide their light under a bushel" by placing their vision for missions on the "about us" page or some other secondary or later page on their website. Put it from and center!  Begin meetings with your vision: Don’t assume everyone has the vision memorized or that it’s top of their minds. It’s good to come back to this over and over again so that the “main things remains the main thing." When possible, highlight actions on your team from the last week that capture the spirit of your vision. T-Shirts: Print shirts for your team members that capture the tag line of your vision so people are literally walking around with your vision or next mission trip by name. Shirts are a great bonding gift for your team and a great keepsake after the trip. Double win.  Start your short-term trips with the vision: Train your team leaders to bring the vision to light for each meeting, each morning, each debrief and to keep this in front of the team. Imagine before every meeting about a short-term missions trip, the leader starting with reciting the very reason you're gathering in the first place. Powerful.  Refine your vision to a one-sentence summary: Do a spot test and see how many on your immediate team know your vision. Probably not many. Make sure your vision has been simplified to its simplest version so it is easier to recall. Practice: Personally and with your team, practice reciting your vision. Do spot checks to see how well people are remembering this. Provide small rewards to those that get it right. Place your vision on your business cards: That’s right, once you have it down to one line, get those nice business cards double-sided and print your vision right on the back of the card. Place your vision in your email signature line: Now that you have it simplified then make sure to add it to your email signature. The story of your social media: Make sure every social media post is capturing your vision in its heart.  You’ve probably noticed we have a broad definition for teams. Teams might be your staff, trip leaders, general participants, but also donors, advocates, and colleagues. Whoever you place into this category, you have a responsibility to equip them to carry your vision and promote it and any trips and stories. Stop thinking it’s your role to tell everyone about your vision and start equipping your team to carry this vision forward. Remember, a shared vision is always more powerful than the perfect vision.  For those of you with plenty of people to serve; great, you'll have that many more energized people on your team. For those who tell us they need more people on board for missions, do these things to generate some buzz and excitement for missions.  Action: Select at least one idea from above and see if you can implement in the next 30 days. Need help? You know where to find us! This is just one strategy of five (5) we have for doubling your impact. Download all five (5) strategies you can implement immediately that will double your missions impact.   This post is written by Will Rogers. Will is the Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceReef.
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7 Questions You Should Be Asking
7 Questions You Should Be Asking Leading your church or organization into adopting a new technology, no matter how awesome it is, can be daunting.  If you are like many, you are probably concerned about making a wise choice that will reflect well on you, your leadership, and your church/organization. We understand and want to guide you to the best solution, even if it is not ServiceReef (seriously!).  Our heart has always been to help guide organizations to increased Kingdom impact.  There are a few tools out there created by folks with good hearts and intentions.  Deciphering which is best for you can be a challenge.  Here are a few key questions to be asking as you evaluate any new technology.  Please note: Since this is a pretty intensive topic, you can also check out our guide for Choosing a Technology (coming in Fall 2019) which will help walk you through how to evaluate options in more detail.   Who are my key stakeholders? Before you get too far in the decision process, make sure you have a good understanding of your internal teams and who might be impacted by new software.Based on their role, their questions will differ, but understanding their perspective on the process now will help streamline adoption later.Make sure you present the current problem you are looking to solve along with any benefits of a “change” with each stakeholder.That allows them to understand the gains you are looking to accomplish and help them feel a part of the solution that you choose. Here are a couple of quick examples… Who will make the actual purchase decision?  If this is you or your boss, just make sure they are looped in early so you have a good understanding of what goals they are attempting to achieve and are aware of the “why” behind your proposed solution.If you need some assistance, check out this quick overview of Getting Your Boss on Board Are there any financial flow decisions?  We are all pressed for time and that is especially true of your financial folks.Their primary concerns are typically around Security and Time Management.Managing “another flow” of donations creates a fear that it will add a lot of time to their schedules.Likely, this is not going to change anything they are doing currently and might even make their lives easier (especially if they are managing their current donations manually for missions).However, to ease this conversation, sit down with your Controller/Accounting staff and ask about their current process.ServiceReef strives to make this as easy as possible in a variety of ways, including CRM integrations, automated flows into a designated account, manual transaction entry, and ways to designate donations to a specific accounting code. Are there any IT-related concerns?  If you have folks on staff that manage technology, it’s usually a good idea to include them so they can help answer any integration or technical questions that come up.Typical questions you might get are around security and support in case anything goes wrong.Assure them that the ServiceReef team is continually updating their platform to stay on top of key security and support issues. Again, we are committed to your success… but if they have questions, please reach out and we can provide them with additional information.   What is the true cost? You might be familiar with the phrase “Penny wise, Pound foolish.”  This English expression first appeared in a 1621 book by Robert Burton.  It still rings true nearly 200 years later.  When considering the cost of a missions platform, the key indicators often come down to the actual dollars that will be spent.  While a part of the decision process, caution your key stakeholders that this isn’t the only cost to consider.  Here are some questions to guide you to a fuller evaluation… What is the cost of doing nothing?  Yes, you can actually manage missions relatively “free” with spreadsheet programs or online volunteer sign-up forms. However, these don’t expand very well and typically need weekly (if not daily) management to maintain accuracy.This costs you (or others) precious time each week.A quick example… we had a trip admin who used to spend her entire Friday each week sorting through excel spreadsheets and emailing participants their current fundraising status.When she joined ServiceReef, our automated emails kept everything up to date and she got an entire day back in her schedule to use for more strategic purposes.Your time, or even “volunteer’s time”, actually has a cost… don’t overlook this when making a decision. Does the cost structure allow us to scale?  Some platforms charge on a per trip cost.Others on a monthly subscription.There are a couple of questions to evaluate as the initial cost may not reflect what your cost will be in 12-18 months as you grow.For example, if there is a platform that charges on a per-trip basis, consider how many months you would need to keep that trip active (for both recruiting and post-trip activities).Also, consider the mental energy to consider in remembering when to open/close each trip to try and manage costs.ServiceReef considered several billing options and made “ease of use” a primary reason for our pricing structure.You can scale up/down within the plans through your organization settings as you grow, but you also just have a single cost per month and room to grow your impact.If you suddenly need to put a couple new trips out there to meet a need, you won’t need to worry about additional costs as there is room within each tier to meet your needs.If nothing else, this also makes the conversation easy with your stakeholders when they ask “what is the cost?”… as you won’t have to do any mental calculations.  Find out more about our pricing.   Is this platform expanding? One key consideration is the investment each company is making yearly to improve the process for participants and stay on top of key developments within the Missions industry.ServiceReef is committed to driving the industry forward and is continually adapting the platform to ensure success for its partner organizations (i.e. YOU!).Each year, we create 1 or 2 key modules as well has hundreds of small tweaks to help provide a stable and secure platform.As long as you have ideas (and we haven’t run into too many admins without ideas ), we will continue to provide as many efficiencies and tools to make you successful.   Is this trusted by others? Since each organization is unique, it might be difficult at first to figure out which platform is best for your situation.In guiding hundreds of organizations, we have found that there are some key shared principles to consider… whether you are a mega-church, a small organization running one trip a year, or anything in between.Here are some stories around various functions within ServiceReef… take a look at how some of your colleagues have become heroes by using this platform.   How does this help our participants? Today’s mission participant expects technology to be easy and available whenever they have questions.By ensuring that they can apply, track forms, get meeting reminders, or immediately access their updated fundraising status, you reduce the questions participants have while empowering them to own their preparation process.ServiceReef originally built their platform with the participant in mind, ensuring a seamless experience regardless of the device being used.   Can this help me capture impact? Although we all know that the true impact of Kingdom work may not be known in the days or weeks (or years) following a missions trip, the platform you select should have ways to gather a collection of data points that help you measure the impact on both the lives in the field and the impact on those that participated.ServiceReef captures this impact through two key areas: Stories: We believe that story-telling is the primary way to demonstrate personal and field-impact.  By making it easy to share stories/pictures, supporters can follow along at home as participants grow through their experience.  By giving admins control to approve and edit stories, we also provide you ways to protect the safety of those involved. Map Points: What if you could visually show all of your organization’s/church’s touch points around the world?  ServiceReef has a free (yes, FREE) tool to help you display your global touch points and better tell your story.  If you post a trip through ServiceReef, it’s automatically included on your map (assuming, of course, that it isn’t a “secure” trip… you can create those to not show on the map).  The ServiceReef mapping tool is designed to help you tell your vision story… where you’ve been and where you are going.    Engaging people beyond a technology? Although you are in the process of considering a technology platform, you should keep in mind that there are ways to engage outside of the platform itself. How else will this platform help guide people along their missional journey?  ServiceReef engages people in several ways both within and outside of the site.Here are a couple of examples: Missional.Life: Every participant who goes on a trip has the option to create a free profile.This allows that user to keep supporters updated of their journey into a life of missions (Domestic, International, Job-related, etc).By enabling them to engage supporters in a similar fashion to social media platforms, it’s easy for them to post stories, prayer requests, and more while keeping their message to only those that they can trust (their private supporters).Since the platforms integrate together, any trip they participate on will automatically flow from to show on their activity feed for supporters to be aware.Find out more here: Donors: For those that give to your participants, the check is so much more than just money.It’s a way to support that individual… and for many, it’s a tangible encouragement of what God is doing in their life.When someone donates, they are alerted via email to stories that are shared on that trip.This enables them to continue to ask questions, engage, and PRAY during each stage of that trip… preparation, during the trip, and after that trip.    
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Moving Participants
Moving participants has a completely new functional process and more powerful tools. You can now move participants while they are waiting for approval (or after they are approved like before) and the system will gracefully handle the different scenarios where the original trip and the trip the participant was moved to have different application fees. Attached are the three different modals that you can get when you are approving a participant.  Scenario One - Initial trip application fee is equal to or more than current trip (this is the same display page an admin would see even if the participant was not moving from one trip to another).  In this case, the admin would get a choice to charge the original application fee or ignore the fee. Scenario Two - Original trip did not have a fee.  In this case, since the participant was not charged a fee when applying, the fee will need to be obtained via other means (outside of ServiceReef) as the system does not have a card "on file" to charge. Scenario Three - Both trips have fees, but the initial trip application fee less than the destination trip application fee.  In this case, since the pre-approval on the card was on the original application fee amount, ServiceReef cannot charge more than was originally "held" when the card was first verified.  For example, if the application fee was originally sent to the credit card for approval of $50, that is now the maximum that can be charged to that card for the application fee.  In this scenario, the Admin is given a choice between charging the original fee (e.g. $50) or skipping the fee entirely.  If the admin desires to have the participant submit additional payment, then it can either be done by the participant as a "donation" through the system or as a "manual" payment and the Admin can collect it outside of   We tested over 75 different scenarios including donations, trips with auto-approve, trips with approval required, approving participants, refunding participants, moving participants and all of the payment variations. This project was a significant undertaking as we had to split payments up for trip applicants registering together when approvals are turned on, but we feel that the user interface improvements have resulted in a more straight forward and intuitive experience for you as an Admin.  If you have questions or run into any scenarios not covered here, please let us know. What has changed? The checkout page Splitting payments for each registration Ability to move a participant in pending status