We love youth ministry…it’s why we lead mission trips for teens each summer. We know youth workers face so many obstacles when it comes to discipling their students well, from budgets, to lack of volunteers, to the high expectations placed on students to perform.
While we can’t solve all these problems, we know that spending a week on a youth mission trip can transform your youth.
1. Connecting with “Big Church”
It can feel discouraging when there is a divide between the youth ministry and the rest of your church’s life.
It makes it difficult to maintain strong mentorship for teens, makes them less eager to show up on Sunday mornings, and the congregation can miss out on the blessing of pouring into student’s lives.
Youth mission trips offer a great opportunity for students to share their stories with the whole church family, both before and after the trip.
Fundraising offers many opportunities for growth and connection between generations, encouraging older adults to pray and give, and exciting younger kids about what their future in the church can look like.
Connecting students with the rest of the church body is so beneficial for the community of believers in your context!
2. Busting Up Cliques
It is such a blessing for students of different backgrounds and experiences to enjoy fellowship together.
The deep bonds of friendship can be some of the most fruitful times in the life of your ministry, allowing for mutual encouragement, prayer, and challenge. However, it can take some very serious work in order to create this type of healthy atmosphere.
Students tend to stick with the friends they already have, sometimes making it hard for visitors or new students to feel welcome.
There is nothing like a week-long mission trip sleeping in the same room, driving around in the same (smelly) van, and working on a project together to encourage deeper fellowship between friend groups.
A trip like this can create memories and excitement when the back to school season kicks off, making students more welcoming and hospitable to more people.
3. Pushing Students Out of Their Comfort Zones
It is very difficult for students to be taken out of routine and into something new. We know students have a lot of high expectations placed on them, cramming their schedules to the brim and not leaving much room for rest, creativity, or time to themselves.
There is no doubt students find comfort in their routines, phones, and busy schedules (just like so many of us do).
Pushing students out of their comfort zones allows them opportunities to:
* Lean into God
* Trust in their leaders
* Engage in the mission at hand
Getting teens out of their comfort zones gives more opportunities for the Spirit to move in their hearts, and for them to move into discipleship.
A consistent struggle in youth ministry can be a lack of strong leadership from the students themselves.
Having strong student leaders intensifies their discipleship, gives the other students someone their own age to look up to, and allows you as the leader to engage in deep relationships with select students.
Nothing reveals a leader like serving.
Jesus gave us the ultimate example of a servant leader as He washed His disciples’ feet, took up His own cross, and was resurrected to save us.
A mission trip can help reveal the fruits of a student’s relationship with Jesus, as well as how they handle conflict, pressure, and discomfort.
A summer youth mission trip gives so many opportunities for leaders to rise up in how they serve, speak to others, and guide younger students. You might be surprised in who stands out during a week at camp!
5. Building Relationships
Youth workers know more than most the value of Gospel-centered relationship. You know that having strong mentors in the lives of students can make or break their high school years.
You know the blessing you can receive from working with and praying intensely for students.
A summer mission trip for teens offers the opportunity for you to engage in brand new ways with students it can be difficult to connect with.
Surprise trips to the store or gas station can be a perfect opportunity for discipleship; working together on a project on the mission site can help encourage the breakthrough you have been praying for you; and seeing you work hard alongside them can build the trust that is such a privilege to have.
This information is courtesy of TEAMeffort, www.teameffort.org. Since 1993, TEAMeffort has brought over 150,000 youth and leaders from thousands of churches of different denominations together to work side-by-side on life-changing, eye-opening, faith-building mission experiences.