Missions trip training exercise: Getting out of your comfort zone

Pre-trip experiential learning

This exercise was written for U.S. college students gathered for a week-long training camp prior to 8 weeks of summer ministry around the world. The exercise was done in a city with which not one of them was familiar

Directions: Take people to an area of a city that contains a selected target location such as a coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Drop the students off in pairs a mile or less from that target location. Give them a sheet with the instructions below printed on it. Do not give them any other help regarding how to get to the target location. Be sure to debrief at the end of the event to help participants process this most effectively.


Today is an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone. Unless the Spirit leads you to, you do not need to evangelize anyone you encounter. You will do this exercise with a partner of your choosing. Your group goal today is to make your way to COLD STONE CREAMERY (change to the location being used). Talk to people along the way. Ask directions. Find out something fascinating about the neighborhood or about the people you encounter. Arrive at the target location with at least one more thing than what you started with, something that someone you talked to gave to you (a business card, a coin, an advertising pen, or even a sample of food.

One part of the assignment is to find strangers willing to talk to you. Find out a few things (for instance -- but not exclusively -- job, family, dreams, travels, or religious beliefs), and share some things about yourself. You may mention why you are doing this but do not make that the central focus of the conversation. Simply enjoy the conversation and the challenge of stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting people.

If you get lost and cannot make it in one hour, call: (insert cell phone number of facilitator or phone number of training base).

Have a good time! You have one hour.

    -- Howard Culbertson,

Background on experential learning

Experiential learning emphasizes hands-on, real-world experiences as a primary means of acquiring knowledge, skills, and understanding. Unlike traditional classroom-based instruction, experiential learning encourages active engagement and reflection, allowing learners to directly interact with their environment and apply theoretical concepts to practical situations. Through activities such as experiments, field trips, simulations, internships, and problem-solving tasks, individuals gain not only knowledge but also invaluable insights, critical thinking abilities, and a deeper understanding of complex subjects. Experiential learning fosters a dynamic and immersive learning environment where learners are empowered to take ownership of their education and develop essential skills that are transferable across various contexts, ultimately preparing them for success in both academic and real-world settings.

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