I have been thinking a-lot about the idea of mission trips, primarily because I have a trip for our junior high students coming up and still have several spots to fill and others to refill due to scheduling conflicts.
I then begin to wonder wha
t drives the gap between the mission trip and the mission skip. Admittedly, I think we adult youth workers might be at fault for the gap, allow me to explain my thoughts.
For years we have ran and hosted mission trips each summer, doing some awesome work with the area people, and ministries such as Group, Youth Works and CIY. But we tend to make this summer trip more like a vacation than a mission experience. Things we do that make it more vacation than mission:
1. We allow mom and dad to pay the fee without much effort to the student.
2. We make it a one week wonder. We spend very little time building the group dynamic, strengthening the spirituality of students.. (partly due to our need to fill spots 🙂 ) or spending time learning about the people we will serve.
3. We celebrate the week of serving with a white water rafting trip, amusement park day or some other fun activity.
4. We tend to get home and do life as normal… no follow up or follow through.
5. We don’t use the trip to launch our students to get plugged into local non-profits in our areas (like food kitchens, pantries, tutoring etc)
6. We lack follow up with emotional moments the students experience during the week and don’t communicate them to the parents.
7. We tend to make the week about us (our church group) than the people we minister too.
I am not saying all the issues stem from us but think we do play an important role in how they are played out.
Some suggestions to consider, struggle with:
1. What if God has a person(s) on the trip that is being called to full time missions and we don’t help connect the dots?
2. What if God is using this experience to spark some fire under some students butt to get them more excited, committed or on fair for Him?
3. What if we take the energy recruiting and spend it praying and equipping students to respond to God’s call to the least of these?
4. What if we look at the summer mission trip as a launching pad for life time mission work, getting the Student Ministries involved in some local efforts or within the church serving?
5. What if we take the week and invest in building the students up as followers of Christ instead of entertaining them with park rides and hot dogs?
6. What if we just teach the students, what it means to love those who are without like Jesus loves us?
I know! I know… easier said than done. But, we are called to be in the world and not of it. Christ has set us free to be all we are created to be, maybe just maybe you are in need of someone to challenge, encourage and equip you to do the same.
I am looking forward to changing the way we view and do missions over the next few summers and hope God will bless us in the process.