After years in youth ministry, the one event that impacts our students the most are mission trips. But here’s another secret—the trip itself is the icing but the preparation is the cake! Don’t miss out on the cake because it makes the event so much more powerful!
The youth staff starts preparing for mission trips about 12 months prior to the trip, but the students buckle down and work together for about 4-6 months. During this time we develop a unity among the group participants that will help when we arrive on the mission field. There are some important steps we take in getting prepared. Take a look at these simple ideas and put into practice as many of them you think will aid you in the development of a great trip!
Prayer: Wow, you can not do enough of it, so however much you have planned, plan more!
Application: Each student is given an application that has questions like, “Explain how you came to know Christ,” and “Describe a tough time in your life that God carried you through.” These applications are for a time of thinking about “why” a student wants to go on the trip.
Prayer Partners: Each participant is required to enlist a prayer partner to begin praying about the trip. This partner is invited to our meetings and then to the commissioning service.
Memory Verses: Each participant memorizes verses for the trip. This teaches our students about the importance of God’s Word, but we also utilize these verses in both evangelism and in our devotional times. The verses are memorized in English but if the native language is easily learned, then we attempt to learn a verse in the language of the country we are visiting. We have memorized verses in Spanish, German, and Latvian. There would be no rewards given for our pronunciation, but the translated verses have proven to be a good icebreaker with many people as we stutter through our attempts at their language.
Your Story: Each student writes out his or her story of how God changed his or her life. This short document (about 350 words) is then printed along with the student’s picture on a half-page document to be passed out in the language of the country we visit. We print off from 200-500 copies for each student. In many countries, bright colored paper is desirable for people along the streets.
Role-Play: Using role-play is a great way for students to get over their fear of interacting with the natives. We have fun with this, but it also teaches us while we laugh.
Prayer bands: Each trip, we print the names of the participants on wristbands and pass them out to the entire church on a Sunday morning. The cost is minimal and it encourages our whole church to pray for our team while we are away.
Commissioning Service: Before each trip, we commission the student to go, tell, and serve for the glory of God in a special service that also includes their families and other students in the group. The service is very special and it encourages the students who aren’t going on the trip to remember they also a part of the team when they lift us up in prayer.
Preparation is so important but FLEXIBILITY is vital. Many times the trip does not go well because the preparation is not enough. Don’t make the mistake of not being ready for the “good things that God has prepared for you to do.”