In most church situations, members of the church contributed in numerous ways to the youth mission trip. Whether it was being a faithful prayer warrior, donating materials, or contributing financially, the church as a whole was invested in the student mission trip. Therefore, it is wise to dedicate a service to celebrate what God did on the trip.
Here’s how you plan such a service, and I broke it down into categories for you because I’m such a nice guy:
Depending on the talent and trip experience, you may not have the capacity of the youth being in charge of the music for the service. If that is the case, then you simply have the normal praise team sing, play, and lead per the norm.
However, if music was a big part of your mission trip outreach, then by all means, allow the church to participate in what you have worked so hard to prepare and present on the field. Even if it is children-centered music, so what! Sing praises to the Lord!
I’ve done it both ways and they both are effective. Again, it just depends on your circumstances.
This is an opportunity to teach your teens responsibility and also provide ministry training. So, go all out and allow the teens to be ushers, door holders, sound technicians (supervised, if needed), lead the opening prayer, give announcements…and the list goes on. Take advantage of being able to put teens in places during the main service, and hope that it sticks on a regular basis. I’ve seen teens continue in the sound booth or do announcements periodically as a result of this opportunity.
It’s tough to pack in all the details into one sitting, but do your best. Separate the trip training, the responsibilities and the trip days into smaller chunks. Allow several of your students to explain each aspect of the trip, both preparation and the trip itself.
Typically, I say something to the effect of “this was a student mission trip, so you don’t want to hear from me, you want to hear from the students”. And you know what, it’s true! So get the students on stage and allow them to give their testimony. Typically I ask for volunteers, but this year, each of them got on stage and said the following: Name, Grade, # Mission Trip, Responsibilities on the trip, & lesson God taught them. The impact this had on the church was astounding! I’m still hearing great things from this! Sure, many of the teens will be extremely nervous. Sure, you may need to help them with their speech. Sure, you may need to hand out paper bags for them to breathe into…but it’s worth it, and the parents will be thrilled. If possible include leaders in this testimony time. (Disclaimer: I realize if your group is large, this is near impossible, so maybe have them each write/type it out and put in book form & have the older students or those that experience life change give testimony)
As for the message, if you have a student mature enough to present the message, then by all means. Again, anything you can hand off to the students, then do so. With this, please spend weeks up to the message helping prepare and craft the message with the teen. Don’t leave them hanging to prepare for a message. If a message is too big to handle for your students, then allow some to give short devotionals from the Scripture you studied in training or on the trip.
Everybody likes a video. Put some music to it. And if you’re like me, you probably have students that could do this way better than you, so give them the pictures and video and let them have at it.
Other ideas: Include other summer activities within the time of testimony for those that worked at camps or those that were impacted by camp or summer conference.
There ya have it. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear from you.