Tag Archives: Do Hard Things

10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip

Something you will hear me say often in reference to short-term mission trips (Barna research has my back on this one), “There is no lessonGPS logo 2013 I can teach or event I can plan that can do what a short-term mission trip can do”.  What I mean by that is this, the spiritual life change, the comfort zone breakdown, and the transformation that I consistently see result from these trips…it is hard to reproduce, and it certainly should not be replaced in our youth ministries.

Over the years, God has given me the blessing of being able to lead trips to inner-cities (Chicago/New York), overseas (Barcelona, Spain & Ireland as a student), and more local trips like the mountains of Kentucky and the campgrounds of Scioto Hills.   These are some lessons I learned along the way:

  1. Preparation is Key.  What if a doctor never studied anatomy…what if a bungee jump operator didn’t learn to tie a knot…what if a hairdresser never went to cosmetology school….the answer, they would cause a lot of damage!  And same with mission trips.  If you don’t prepare well in advance, you may just cause more damage than good.
  2. Give Expectations Up Front.  This isn’t a come to the meetings when you feel like it experience.  Each potential team member goes through an interview & application process.  As part of the interview, the applicant is given, in detail, all the expectations of the trip, from behavior to training requirements and assignments.
  3. Train Them.  Soon, I will need to write a detailed list of the mission training, but here are some highlights:  read a book together (ex. Crazy Love, Do Hard Things), unity training (see #5), mission training (curriculum like Prepare.Go.Live), Personal Evangelism Training, Guest Speaker with Professional Training, Trip Presentation to Church, Group Practices (Drama, Crafts, etc.), and accountability (see #4) to name a few.
  4. Keep Them Accountable.  They know the expectations (see #2), so keep them accountable.  Each time we meet for training, the team is asked about their church attendance, daily time with God, homework, and team responsibilities.  Sure, they miss every once in a while, but if it happens twice in a row, the student in warned, and extra assignments follow.  If it continues, a meeting the parents and possible dismissal from the team.  Behavior can also be a means of dismissal as well.
  5. Work on Unity Early.  You may thing unity exercises are silly, but you will thank yourself later if you start them early and often.  The transformation I saw from the first time we did the exercises to the last day, it honestly gave me goose bumps to see the difference.  It was because we worked at it.
  6. Open Their Gifts.  Something we do during training is a spiritual gift inventory and assessment.  Following that, I give each student responsibilities based on their gifts.  Ranging from team encourager to teaching team, each team is given responsibilities, but because their jobs are connected to their spiritual gifts, it allows them to have a better chance of success, and less chance of frustration.
  7. Raise the Ante.  One year I walked out on a limb and had students be in charge of certain groups and given leader responsibilities, such as drama leader or music leader.  Sure, I gave them guidance in the process, but I raised the bar in the preparation process, and boy did it pay off!  I saw some amazing leadership growth in those students.
  8. Never Underestimate a Teenager.  I can remember a shy 9th grader coming into my youth group.  He usually sat quietly during events & lessons, saying very little.  Well, as the years went by he began to grow, but still had a quiet, shy nature.  During his senior year, he signed up for the mission trip to Spain.  He was the sound/media leader, which fit his personality.  But, I felt he needed more, so I gave him the task of learning a magic trick for the park presentation.  That same shy, quiet 9th grader, I got to see him do a magic trick in front of hundreds of people, and use that trick to share the Gospel.  NEVER underestimate a teenager…give them opportunities, and push them to new heights in their spiritual lives!
  9. Can I Get a Testimony?  Every year we do a wrap up service for the mission trip for our church.  It’s great, because many in the church gave towards the trip and were praying faithfully (Prayer cards with a team picture are a wonderful idea), and they want to hear all about the trip.  In the past I have asked if anyone would like to share their testimony of what God taught them.  This year, I decided to have every member of the team, including leaders, give their testimony.  Man was that powerful!  Sure, there were some that were extremely terrified, but the audience, especially parents, was extremely grateful.  (Next week’s blog – How to Plan a Mission Trip Testimony Service)
  10. Life Transformation.  As I mentioned in the intro, there has not been a trip that has gone by that I have not seen at least one student’s spiritual life dramatically change as a result of the trip.  There has been dramatic change (not just a mountain experience either) that I have seen in students.  Students taking their summers to go back to the mission field we went to on the summer before or students saying they want to work at the mission we served at after college graduation.  What a blessing to see lives changed!  That makes the effort that goes into #1-9 worth it.

Special thanks to my youth pastor growing up who taught me many of these lessons early, so I didn’t have to learn the “hard way” all the time.  Love you PK!

 

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Book Review: Do Hard Things (Written by Students)

dohardthings1This is a treat.  This book was read by students preparing for a mission trip this summer.  Each of them wrote a short review of the book.  Since this book is written primarily for teenagers in a rebellion against low expectations, isn’t it fitting that teenagers write the review?  Enjoy their honesty and practical reviews.

The Book:  “Do Hard Things”

The Good:

  • “Loved how each chapter had a story…illustrations…” helped understanding
  • “Good ideas & application”
  • Practical – “gave examples…how to do them and how to overcome obstacles
  • “No two people have the same point of view, everyone is meant for a different purpose”.  This book helps a teenager understand this premise.
  • Inspirational stories of people who “pursued what their heart was telling them to do”
  • “Loved chapter 3” and the examples of teens who were unqualified but God still used in mighty ways.
  • “Amazing, inspiring book”.  “Since it’s written by people close to our age, it makes it seem more realistic”
  • “It shows me that I’m not alone, there are tons of people out there doing what I am to do”

The Bad:

  • Too many stories and too much detail of those storieschuck-norris
  • “Didn’t care for the campaigning or advertising in the book”
  • “Some of things don’t apply to me”
  • “Repetitive.  A drawn-out feeling”
  • “Needed more Chuck Norris.”
  • “Examples were only that of perfect success stories”
  • “TOO MANY STORIES, Stop Bragging”
  • “Barely mentioned God in the beginning”
  • Took me a long time “to actually say the word rebulutionary”

The Grade:  B (Average Grade)

Reasons for the Grade:

  • “Challenging.  Relatable.  Pushed me in my relationship with God.”
  • “Not a big fan”.  Not that challenging.
  • “Only talked about success stories”
  • “Very repetitive”
  • “Good & moving book that inspires me and others to step up”
  • “Very good book, but it hasn’t…pulled me to be a teenager like them”
  • “Really great book and it made me realize our generation does need a wake up call”

(Encouraging Side Note:  Each student was given the assignment of coming up with their own “Rebulutionary Action Plan”.  Let me just tell you, I was so impressed.  The plans they have for their lives…they truly are rebelling against low expectations, and I can’t wait to see what they will do for God’s Kingdom next!)

 

 

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Potential of Young People

kideyesGod saw it…when he put an 8-year-old on the throne to change the political and religious landscape of a nation.

God saw it yet again…when he called a young boy into ministry from a deep sleep

God also saw it…when a group of teenagers were asked to stand up against pagan idolatry while facing a fiery consequence.

God saw it once more…when He sent an angel to tell a teenage virgin she would carry and deliver the Savior that would take away the sins of the world.

Jesus saw it…when he chose a bunch of teenagers to be world-changers and his successors of the Gospel message.

What did they see?  The saw The Potential of Young People.

Listen, if you don’t see it, and you are a parent of young children or teenagers, or you work in children or student ministry…then you need to start seeing it.  All throughout Biblical history, young people were used in powerful, dynamic, and world-changing ways.  From Josiah to the virgin Mary, we see God using a variety of characters to be used to carry out incredible tasks.

So why should your children or teenagers be any different?  About 10 days ago, the student leaders of our student ministry were in charge of hosting an Easter Egg Hunt for the community.  They did everything from publicity & recruiting volunteers to organizing set-up and production of the event.  There were 300 people who came to the event, and it was all on the shoulders of teenagers.  These teenagers had an impact on their community because they were given the chance.

Do-hard-things-harrisCurrently, I’m reading a book called Do Hard Things, written by teenagers that started a rebelution against low expectations of teenagers.  They took that idea to the bank, and were able to intern in the Supreme Court at age sixteen.  Their idea of being a teenager was not to wait until after college to make a difference, they believed they could do something right now.

And you know what, I’m tired of low expectations too.  Seeing teenagers plan an event for an entire community successful, allowing students to plan one youth group night a month from start to finish, pushing more young people to serve in church ministries…these things have changed my expectations of teenagers.  It’s time we take them to new heights, push them further, and start seeing the Josiah’s, Mary’s, and Samuel’s of our group become world changers even before they reach adulthood.

Start opening your eyes.  Start seeing the potential of young people.  God saw it, and so should you.

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