You just got back from a mission trip and you’re pumped!  God did amazing things, and you want to see that where you live too.  But after a few weeks, you lose the “high”. Why does that happen?

A woman resting her head on a shattering puzzle globe.  Mission trip "high".
Why do we lose the mission trip “high”?
Photo by Wesley Carvalho from Pexels

Coming Home From a Mission Trip

You just got back home from being overseas on a mission trip that you raised a lot of money to go on.  While you were away for a month in a foreign land, you witnessed God doing amazing things.  People were healed, set free, delivered, and came to Christ.  You passed out food to the hungry, helped build schools, did dramas for kids and adults alike.  You got to preach and share your testimony with the locals.  You met a whole bunch of new friends who went on the trip with you, and you can’t wait to get home and email them.

You have the mission trip “high”, a buzz of excitement that often lasts weeks or even months. You’re elated at what you saw and experienced on your trip.  You feel like you can do anything through God, and you want to take what you learned and saw and apply them at home and see a revival sweep through your city. Maybe your church invites you to tell some stories at service, or your friend asks you to pray for their sick son after you tell them what you saw God heal in the country you were in.

But then you start to come down off the “high” and everything changes. You lose your zeal for missions, or at the very least, you don’t feel elated anymore.  What happened?  What changed?

My Experience

I’ve been on a lot of mission trips, and I’ve experienced the mission trip “high” after each one.  I’ll share my experience with one of these times.  Many years ago, I went with my church’s college-aged ministry on a mission trip to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  We worked with inner-city kids, the homeless, and helped renovate a church.  It was awesome and challenging work.  We got to see God do amazing things.  We connected with people on a personal level and witnessed God bless them despite the poverty they lived in. 

On our way home, several of us discussed at length how we could help out in our home city of Grand Rapids, which has a large homeless community.  We wanted to start something separate and not affiliated with our church.  We just wanted to go and help people.  So we started a group called United. There were about fifteen of us. We brought bottles of cold water and lemonade downtown and passed them out to the homeless. On hot days we often sat under the bridges with the homeless and talked and prayed with them.  It was terrific, and we were starting to get to know the people we saw consistently.

But, a few months later, the mission trip “high” wore off.  I felt obligated to go each week as a founding member.  I discovered that I didn’t have a heart for inner-city outreach, and soon I felt guilty for losing the mission trip “high”. Was I a bad Christian? Little did I know that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.  After praying about it and talking to the group leaders, I stepped away. United went on for several months more, but eventually, it too faded away.

Man putting his finger on a tiny globe.  We all eventually lose the mission trip "high".
We all eventually lose the mission trip “high”.
Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Why Do We Lose the Mission Trip “High”?

We all eventually lose the mission trip “high”. But why? I think there are many different factors, but in my own experience, these are the main reasons:

Culture: Sometimes, we lose the mission trip “high” due to differing cultures.  In third world countries, people tend to be more open to the miraculous, and God can move easier then He does in the United States where people are more cynical.  Faith tends to be stronger in people who have less.  Sometimes you’ll see amazing healings and other miracles on the mission trip, but see less of it at home.

Wrong Giftings or Callings: Sometimes, we lose the mission trip “high” due to specific ministries not being our calling or our gifting.  I like going on mission trips, but I don’t have a heart for missions.  I like helping the homeless, but I don’t have a heart for that kind of ministry.  It’s not where my calling is.  It’s still good to do, and it’s still something Christians should do, but I need to be where God called me to be.  Not everyone has the same gifting.  Ephesians 4 talks about this.

However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.

Ephesians 4:7 (NLT)

Returning to Normal: Sometimes, we lose the mission trip “high” due to just being home and returning to life as usual.  We’re no longer surrounded by “the mission”.  The mission trip is over, and we’re no longer living and breathing the mission work every single day.  We’ve returned to school, to work, to family, to friends.  Normal life for us resumed.  And though we may never forget the experiences we had on our trip, we no longer have the mission trip “high”.

It’s okay, and typical, for the mission trip “high” to fade away.  We learn and grow so much on mission trips, and we want to take what we learn home with us.  But remember that the culture, the people, the situations, and the gifts you operate in may be different at home than when you’re on a mission trip.  That difference leads to the mission trip “high” fading away.  If you operate in the gift God gave you, then the “high” might be longer lasting than a mission trip.

There are many other factors, but I find those to be the main ones.  What have been your experiences with the mission trip “high”?  Let us know in the comments below.