Ask any Christian to define faith-based travel and the answer you will receive most often is "a trip to the Holy Land or missionary trip". But is that really the case?
In the last few years, the face of faith-based travel has changed dramatically. It no longer represents only travel to destinations such as Israel or the mission field. Faith-based travel now includes Christian themed cruises, retreats and conferences combined with vacations, as well as travel to destinations and attractions that combine spiritual enrichment with rest, relaxation or adventure. Mission travel has also been incorporated in leisure vacations which open up all kinds of possibilities for the lay person to experience missions. Additionally, the increased availability and affordability of faith-based travel products provides churches with opportunities to incorporate travel into their church-wide initiatives to help them achieve ministry objectives such as outreach, evangelism, missions, discipleship training and fellowship.
Christian travel is certainly not a new concept so why the sudden surge of growth? It seems lectures or travelogues don't quite cut it with this new generation of travelers. Many don't want to be told about their faith; they want to experience it for themselves. They want to explore where Jesus was baptized, where Paul preached or see the country where they have supported missionaries for years. This new generation is seeking to explore the world and experience different cultures. Most importantly, they are looking to bring their faith and The Bible alive through their travels.
Israel remains a popular destination for travelers but lately there has been a sharp rise in interest in "following in the footsteps" of the Apostle Paul in Greece and Turkey. With 75 percent of the New Testament occurring in Turkey, this area is rich in Biblical history. Travelers that embark on this journey can visit Ephesus or Patmos where John is believed to have written the Book of Revelation. But not all of the sites on these journeys have Biblical significance. These adventures usually include a Mediterranean cruise to Mykonos and Santorini, allowing travelers some vacation rest and relaxation.
Looking for something different? For those who want to combine the comfort of a cruise with the spirit of a mission, there's PraiseFest Ministries' Cruise with a Cause. Travelers who embark on the five-day voyage on Carnival Cruise Lines enjoy cruise-ship amenities, speakers such as Josh McDowell and concerts by contemporary Christian music artists like The Crabb Family, Donnie McClurkin and Sonicflood at night, a day of missionary work in Nassau, Bahamas, and a day of fun in the sun on Grand Bahama Island. The Cruise with a Cause appeals to those who come for the mission effort in Nassau or those simply interested a cruise vacation with good family-friendly entertainment.
Are you hungry for mountaintop experiences in your vacations, retreats and conferences? Whether a Christian cruise, travel abroad to an exotic biblical destination or the annual church family retreat, you can experience restoration and healing when you travel away from your everyday life and allow God to meet you. Also, the growth of faith-based travel has brought new opportunities for churches to incorporate high value, affordable "travel ministry" programs that support and enhance the mission of the church. The next time you consider your travel, vacation or retreat plans…why not consider an option to choose a trip that is family friendly and enriches your faith?