youth worker, youth ministry, intentional

The Intentional Mission Trip

By Doug Franklin March 21, 2013

The mission trip is all planned and everything is ready to go. You have a great plan to raise the money, the forms are all ready to be signed and you even have the mission committee’s approval. You are going to have a good trip. Many youth workers make it this far, but few do the little intentional things to make a trip great. For example: do your students understand why mission is important to God? Do they know why God desires that they serve? The logistics are important; a spiritual foundation for mission is essential.

Let me give you three ideas on how you can be intentional with your summer mission trip.

Build a Student Profile
Develop a profile of each student that is going on the trip. Ask yourself three questions: What is this student’s greatest need? How is God currently working in him/her? How is God working through him/her? Then write your answers on a sheet of paper in three columns. Under each column write out 5 ways you can encourage that student in these areas based on your assessment of where they are at. For example, under the student’s greatest need, you might write leadership. Now think of 5 things you can do to encourage him/her to grow as a leader. You may even give the student leadership on part of the trip, maybe the work project. Whatever the need, you will have a road map to speaking truth into this student’s life. On a summer mission trip you have a great opportunity to go deeper with students. Don’t miss the chance!

Turn Your Adult Chaperones into Trip Mentors
So many of the youth pastors that I meet on trips have the traditional extra adults on hand because the church thought it would be nice to bring a few parents. Many youth pastors see this as a necessary evil and bring them along, but what they fail to do is see this as a great opportunity to mentor students. When students get on a bus or plane, something magical takes place and they are often willing to work harder, be more responsible and sometimes listen to adults. What adults need to understand, is that students don’t want chaperones, they want relationships. If you will take some pre-trip time and train your adults in how to build relationships with students, I believe you can move your summer trip into greatness. Please know that adults are often very afraid of students and they won’t want to build relationships with them. Here is my suggestion: don’t bring those adults. Find adults who want to mentor students. The summer mission trip will give them lots of time to dig deep into students’ lives.

Challenge The Top
Most programs and curriculum that are available for youth ministry are designed for the lowest common denominator. In other words, they focus on the kids that are not the sharpest, hoping that by meeting their needs the group will grow and develop. In the mean time, the students that “get it” grow apathetic and disinterested in church. I personally believe that this has been one of the greatest mistakes of youth ministry. It has been my experience that by challenging the top students in a youth group, the rest of the students rise to meet them. It’s called positive peer pressure. I challenge you to try it this summer on your trip. Raise the level of expectation for your top students, give them true leadership roles, allow them to make decisions that lead to success or failure and let them deal with the consequences of those decisions. Move away from entertaining your students and giving them free time. Instead, increase the intensity of the work project or ministry outreach. Push your students mentally, spiritual and physically.

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