What an exciting time to be in youth ministry! Not to sound like an old-timer, but in my day…
Seriously, though, my career started in 1981 and the idea of youth ministry as a lifetime profession wasn’t considered much of an option back then. It was seen as a stepping-stone to something else. High quality, well-designed missions for teens weren’t nearly as plentiful as they are today. That’s a blessing but one that comes with a caution. Choose wisely when you’re faced with all the options. Consider what appeals to your young people. Check out the organizations vying for your dollars…and your trust. Look to see if you’ll get the most valuable commodity of all out of the trip; time to spend with your young people. There’s a new choice that’s broken onto the scene from a pioneer provider of missions for youth.
Often summer mission opportunities, at least domestically, are focused around home repair or some sort of construction. This is an awesome way for teens to share faith being the hands and feet of Jesus. But let’s face it, not every teen enjoys swinging a hammer. For all those youth ministers getting a pounding headache looking for meaningful mission trips that don’t require pounding nails, there’s hope…Week of Hope.
Week of Hope is a new style of mission trip for teens launched by Group Workcamps Foundation in 2005. Youth can share the love of Jesus in a variety of ways. These community service camps give your young people a chance to interact directly with children in day camp programs, visit with elderly residents in retirement and nursing homes, clean the homes and mow the lawns of elderly residents, teach children in VBS or backyard Bible club programs and more. The choices available through a community service camp provide loads of options for your teens to exercise all the gifts God’s given them. This type of camp might attract an even wider spectrum of young people and adult volunteers to your program.
This is the type of program our youth ministry used to do on a smaller scale locally. There were always young people eager to visit the local assisted living facility or help serve meals to homeless folks. These same youth would take a pass on our big annual summer trip because it was always centered on home repair mission. Group Workcamps Foundation is growing the choices for domestic youth missions and thankfully so.
Imagine being able to offer multiple choices to youth every summer. Not only a choice in the type of service they’ll provide, but, as they say in real estate, location, location, location. You can try home repair in the desert southwest or community service in Upstate New York. Looking for a sense of adventure? How ‘bout a trip to Winnipeg, Canada or the west coast of Puerto Rico? I hear these are options coming soon for those who want to serve people young and old with the love of Jesus.