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youth worker, youth ministry, intentional, mission trips

Intentional Mission Trips

By Doug Franklin March 25, 2013

Mission trips and LeaderTreks Trips for students are great experiences. They teach students about serving and how to work together as the body of Christ. Most adults are impressed that students would take a week of their summer vacation and spend it serving others in need. The truth is students love mission trips because they get to go places with their friends, and while they do help others, they have a ton of fun goofing around with their buddies. The youth worker tells everyone at church that students will learn a lifestyle of service and all the adults at church think it’s just great that students would even go on a mission trip. This system of student missions is missing the mark. Going is not enough. Youth workers have little precious time with students and need to make of most of it. Students are bombarded with the world’s message and get little time away from all the busyness. We can’t have low expectations of the summer mission trip, we need to raise the bar. We need to see the trip as a milestone not just a good memory. Consider the following:

1. Service vs. Sacrifice
Does our mission trip offer service or does it ask our students to sacrifice? One takes a few hours each day and the other requires students to give up something of value for something of greater value. You can take your mission trip to the transformational level by asking students to sacrifice for the trip. This is different for every church but ask yourself, what does it really cost my students to go on this trip? Challenge them while on the trip to give up something in order to serve longer. Could they sacrifice showers, free-time or sight-seeing time? Could you raise the expectation for your students when it comes to serving before, during and after the trip?

2. Intentional Spiritual Development Plan
Before the trip do you have a plan to help students understand the Biblical reason for doing missions? While on the trip do you have a plan to help them understand God’s plan to care for the poor? After the trip do you have a plan to challenge students to live everyday like they are on a mission trip? Mission trips are a great place to teach students about God’s plan for this world. Don’t miss this opportunity to study God’s word and apply what He teaches us through this trip. By having a plan to teach students God’s word through the experience of a mission trips, it takes the trip to a new level.

3. Who is leading?
Will your students see the needs and build a plan to help those who need help or will they be spoon feed a solution? Will your students build relationships with those in need or only see them from a distance? When students lead everything changes. They move past service and onto sacrifice. They want to know where God is and they push for solutions that require their whole heart.

Ready to take your mission trip to the next level? Finished playing with the mission trip? These three ideas will take you to the next level. It will require more of your time to prepare and more focus on the trip but the difference will be worth it.

About the Author

Doug Franklin

Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners  who never leave their side. Doug grew up in…  Read More