Ok, so you made it through your mission trip with everyone alive, now what?
Your kids are on a high because they have seen what God can do and they want it to continue. Can you do something to help your students continue? I believe you can. Here are some simple things that we do that help our students to continue allowing God to work on after the homecoming.
Start out by debriefing on the trip each night. We have a short time where we talk about what we have seen God do. That is not what we have accomplished or what we did to make God’s job easier. We stick to things where we don’t have much say in the situation, that way God gets the credit.
We also do a debriefing sheet that we complete on the bus or plane ride home. It starts with simple questions like “What was the best and worst part of the trip?”and “What was the funniest thing that happened?” Then we move to more important things, like “What was something God did that you didn’t expect?” and “How will your life be different when you get home?” We give them an option of putting their name on it to try and insure honest responses. By getting the feedback from them while it is still fresh, it allows for the best possible opportunities for God to speak to them. We video some of them explaining what they saw and learned, and what they would say to someone to convince or challenge them to go on a mission trip. These could be used for next year’s publicity. You could also send these videos to those kids who need a gentle “kick in the pants” a few months later about how awesome God worked in and through their lives.
Another thing we do is send a letter to the parents that should arrive a day or two before we get home explaining how their child will be excited to share but very tired from the trip. It challenges them to set aside a time in the next few days to allow the student to tell all about the trip and what God has done in their life. This could even encourage family members to draw near to God.
One last thing we do is give our students a chance to reflect out loud at a youth service where we describe the trip and thank our other youth members who we enlisted to be prayer partners. We tell our students that we are sending out a few members but all of us play a part.
These simple things won’t insure a fired up youth group member all year long but seem to help them remember that dependence on God is necessary to keep that fire going.
Speaking of missions, every year Group Mission Trips takes 25,000 participants on short term domestic trips. Whether you are looking for day-long, weekend-long, or week-long international and domestic opportunities, Group Mission Trips has something for you and your group! See upcoming 2014 and 2015 trips.