It’s that time of year and many youth leaders and students are traveling as far as overseas while some choose to travel to another state. Summer is a time when youth groups go on mission trips and knowing the WHY for going is important. When I speak to youth workers about planning their summer mission trips many times the conversation starts with; “I’m praying about where, when, and how much.” It’s not often I hear; “I’m praying about why to go on a mission trip.” Of course location is very important as you don’t want to load your students on a plane bound for Afghanistan to minister to the Taliban hiding in caves (though they need Jesus also). But location and cost should not be the first and only factor when planning your mission trip. So my goal was to get the youth workers to begin considering why they are taking their students on a mission trip.
There are five points of the WHY to mission trips we all need to consider as we prepare to take our students on a mission trip.
First, mission trips can create unity. As students are placed in situations that push them to work together it builds strong bonds that carry over once they return home. Jesus’ desire for our students is that they will become unified as a powerful team as they unleash the gospel wherever they go and spread THE Cause.
Second, mission trips can develop a heart of compassion in our students. Whether overseas or right in their own backyard, there are people with spiritual and physical needs. Jesus knew that people needed what he brought them, both the message of the kingdom and physical needs; he came for our good, not his own. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” – Matthew 9:36
Third, many times I have heard stories of teens that shared how God became more real and personal to them as a result of a mission trip. Also, many teens have put their faith in Christ as a result of attending a mission trip. “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7. Will your mission trip have a spiritual impact on your students? Will they come home talking about how God worked in their own personal relationship with Jesus? Or will they only talk about the beaches, the hangout time and/or the site seeing?
Fourth, whether overseas or stateside, student’s will experience a new culture and their view on the world and perspective on life will change and grow. For most teens their perspective of the world is based on bottled water instead of muddy water gathered from miles away, violence is seen only on TV shows and videos games instead of on their streets, and bibles can be freely bought in a variety of colors and designs instead of smuggled in a variety of methods and people.
Lastly, I discussed that mission trips will keep students focused on THE Cause. Sometimes we can lose track as to the purpose of a mission trip. If we’re not careful it can become all about meeting physical needs, but at the core of every mission trip we are called to bring the gospel wherever we go. We can build houses, collect food and clothes, but if the gospel is not presented then our mission has failed.
Thoughts? Do you agree/ disagree?