Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!
Register for a Free Account
Choose Password
Confirm Password

Your account has been created!

Virtual Mission Trips: A New Way to Engage 

Virtual Mission Trips: A New Way to Engage 


When life began to change in March 2020, the WGM Mobilization team wasn’t sure what the future of serving would look like. Their goal was to engage people in what God was doing around the world, but this became difficult with new travel restrictions. Once it became evident that this was going to be permanent for the foreseeable future, they began to consider new ways for people to get involved in missions.

A woman sitting in the passenger seat of a car and looking at her laptop screen 

The idea of virtual mission trips came to Jared Gleason, Director of Mobilization, after hearing that other organizations were implementing them. He thought the idea had potential and decided to give it a shot. In a recent interview, Jared and Teams Coordinator Ashlyn Luttrell explained in further detail what these mission trips look like and some benefits of participating.

How would you describe what you and your team do? What is your team a part of at WGM?

Jared: Our whole goal is to engage people in what God’s doing around the world. That can take many different roles and facets, whether it’s serving on a short-term mission trip for 1–2 weeks or going for a longer period of time, like several months or even years. Our hearts’ desire is to get to know people and find out where they are and where God’s calling them, and help facilitate that. Usually, that’s going, but because of COVID we’ve had to figure out how to go in a different way.

Ashlyn: My focus is sending people short-term. For these trips, it’s more about how we equip and train our team leaders so they can best disciple their teams and talk about engaging in missions from their role.

A welcome box from WGM containing materials for a virtual mission trip

Each team member receives a welcome box for the trip.

Take us through March 2020. You’ve just been told the world is shutting down, and your job is to send people out. What were you feeling and thinking at the time?

Jared: I really didn’t realize what the implications would be. We thought, like the rest of the world, that this would be a short-term thing that wouldn’t last very long. We decided we needed to cancel our teams for their safety and the safety of the communities they would be serving. We did this for a couple of months, and the timeline kept extending. By summer, we realized that this was going to be permanent for the foreseeable future, and we needed to figure out a different way.

Teams are a huge on-ramp to further engagement. We see team members experience the ministry in a different location and want to be involved even more, so we have them transition to longer-term programs. It was discouraging because we know people want to go, and our locations value teams and want to receive them, so it was a big loss overall.

Ashlyn: It’s been amazing to see God’s hand in the timing of how things worked out for us. God has really provided in the details of things with canceling, the flexibility people have given us in the spirit of being gracious with all the unknowns, and that people have wanted to stay engaged with us but didn’t know how anymore. Coming up with virtual teams gave us an opportunity to offer people a way to connect with WGM that we didn’t have before.

Five people take part in a Zoom call with team members

WGM missionary Nathan Waggoner helps facilitate a video conversation between an Albanian family and team members.

What inspired the idea for virtual mission trips?

Jared: I had heard of a couple other organizations exploring the idea of virtual mission trips and even starting them. I thought it was something that could really take off if there was an interest for it. I was able to connect with other organizations to see how it had been going, so I thought, Let’s try it. Once we pitched the idea, we were all in, and we wanted to make it as engaging as possible, even though it was all virtual.

Ashlyn: At first, I thought a virtual trip sounded a little strange and unusual. I didn’t know if people would be interested. The more we got into it, the more exciting it became. It gives people a new opportunity to see the field and to see what’s happening. Virtual teams provide a new way to learn things from home. I’ve been excited to watch it grow as we’ve developed it.

Jared: At first, I didn’t think it would take off, and when I mentioned it to a few people, they questioned it. Knowing there was some skepticism out there helped fuel the innovation and desire to make these as engaging as possible. We’re always trying to improve them. Each time we’ve done a trip, we’ve added new things that have come out of the evaluations to ramp them up.

The daughter translates what is being said in English for her parents during the Zoom meeting in their home.

A daughter translates what is being said in English for her parents during the Zoom meeting in their home.

What is a virtual mission trip?

Ashlyn: A virtual trip gives you daily emails and content from the field. The videos are exclusive to the team, where you get to see the lives of the missionaries up close in a way you don’t get to see unless you go on the field. It’s really exciting to walk in their shoes and see what ministry looks like, the places they live, and learn about the culture of where they’re at.

You cover a lot of material in a short week. It’s flexible for people’s schedules, too; they don’t have to log on at a certain time during the day. They can read their email whenever works best for them. There are a couple of Zoom meetings that you can join to interact with people live, meet your team members, meet the missionaries, and even visit a home at the end of your trip.

Jared: The content is about 30–40 minutes a day, with opportunities to go deeper if you want to learn more. You learn a lot about the culture. In Albania, you’re reading about the history and can even see where Paul could have walked in a Roman amphitheater. It’s really neat to be able to put yourself in his shoes and relive some of that history.

Our team there does an awesome job creating the content. All videos are shot looking from your perspective as the team member. When you arrive, they’re shaking your hand and greeting you. When you’re in the car driving to different locations, you’re seeing everything from the passenger’s seat, which makes it really engaging.

Ashlyn: While it’s a virtual trip, it’s really low-tech. You don’t have to know a lot about how to use a computer or the internet to do it, which has allowed those who don’t use technology often an easy way to engage.

Those in the home, with their heads bowed and some holding hands, praying together with the team members on the Zoom call.

The team joins together with the family and missionaries in prayer.

What do you see as the future of virtual mission trips? Can we hope to see more of these once travel opens back up?

Jared: Yes! We’d like to have them as a regular option for people and have them operate in tandem with physical or traditional trips as a way to continue to engage people. We’re ramping up and will have three locations by this summer, adding Honduras and Papua New Guinea.

Have you been surprised by doors that have opened through this in ways you weren’t expecting? 

Jared: We never would have considered this in the past. It’s never been a thought anyone would be interested in. However, COVID prompted us to start it. At first, we thought we would just do it during COVID and then be done with it after this season, but our desire is for them to continue as a way to engage ministry partners and people who can’t actually go. It’s opened the possibility of a new way for people to serve with WGM.


Albania, Honduras, and Papua New Guinea


One week

30–40 minutes each day

One hour-long Zoom meeting with your team

One longer Zoom meeting where you visit a local home


A trip preparation package

Exclusive videos

Daily devotions

Interviews with missionaries and staff

Exposure to culture and history

Inside look at what God is doing in these locations


Anyone! These trips are especially great for:


Small groups

Youth groups

College students

People interested in missions

People unable to travel due to accessibility, health, or finances


PRAY: Lift up the Mobilization team as they navigate this season of unknowns and for continued innovation on ways to engage people in a different way. Pray for encouragement as they build these virtual mission trips and continue to improve each one.

GO: If you’re looking for a way to serve but don’t know how, consider joining a virtual team. Visit the virtual mission trip page for more information on what trips are available. All funds given toward the trip will support the ministry of the field you will be serving.

More Stories

Support a Missionary
Global Impact Fund
Advancing the Great Commission through your partnership.