Tag Archives: Mission trip

2016 Goals Revisited

In January of this year, I posted my ministry goals for 2016.  When you make goals, it’s a balance of faith, attainability, and measurability.  Let’s take a look and see what God did this year…shutterstock_407994838-800x400

  1. Short Term Mission Trip – Mission trips are a part of our ministry every summer in a cycle of local, out-of-state, international, and work trips. This way, the 4 year high school experience will allow for various types of mission work. This year a trip to New York is in the works.  Grade:  A.  What a tremendous trip.  Click here for the recap.
  2. Inter-generational Ministry Continued Improvement – A tech class for seniors, service projects combined with adult small groups, guest speakers, mentoring initiatives, and integrated mission projects.  Grade:  B.  There is still room for improvement, and that will be reflected in the 2017 goals, but we did host the tech class for seniors, involve adults in combined service projects, and the mentoring initiatives are starting to grow.
  3. Better Timing – Each year I look at my schedule and there is always at least one “why did I schedule that there?”.   This year I want to make a more conscious effort in the timing of events and programs. Team with parents in working out better schedules. Not all conflicts can be avoided, but why not adjust the schedule if it can be.  Grade:  B+.  For the most part, this was much better this year.  I was very strategic in providing rest for leaders, including student leaders, at key times.  Events were pretty well spaced out for maximum impact and family time.
  4. Family Series – I have been trying to find more ways to gather the family together in a youth ministry context. This year, I plan to teach a small series on the family with the entire family.  Grade:  B.  We did it, but it was not as well attended as I had hoped.  It’s difficult when parents are serving in other ministries (not a bad thing) or various other reasons…but the series went well and was well-received.
  5. Co-Mission Event – Continue the annual co-mission, which is a mission conference for students. This year, there may be some changes to enhance and improve the evangelism training for the students.  Grade:  A.  There were several adults and leaders that mentioned this was one of the best Co-Mission events we have had.  We made some practical changes and resulted in a challenging, but encouraging training for the students.
  6. Series on Fear – I read recently teens have a wide array of fears. Fear is often what keeps them from doing right and what tempts them to do wrong. Fear takes them places they don’t want to go and holds them hostage when they want to leave. Fear is something we need to talk about.  Grade:  A.  I tweaked this a little and did a “Fear Factor” event instead and used it as a platform to discuss their fear.  This event was one of the highlights of the year for sure. 
  7. Winter Retreat – In the past, the winter has been difficult to draw up enough interest for a retreat. Part of it is timing with winter sports, weather, and life. But this year we hope will be different having a younger group.  Grade:  A-.   Not greatly attended due to sports conflicts, but overall was a valuable that provided spiritual growth and group unity.
  8. Service – Each year we place a heavy emphasis on service and provide ample opportunity to serve in the church and in the community. This year is no different with continuous plugging in of students in church life and a community/church service project scheduled every month.  Grade:  A.  God blessed us to be able to participate in a service project every month again this year.  That truly is a staple in our youth ministry and the benefits are too numerous to count.
  9. Global Emphasis – With the World in Need month continuing this year, we plan to place an emphasis on the issue of poverty across the world. We hope to encourage the students to not only pray but be a world-changer and do something about global poverty.  Grade:  A.  Whenever you can expand the worldview of a student and raise awareness of poverty, it’s hard not to look at it positively. 
  10. Apprenticeships – Along with having a youth intern this year, I want to encourage the student leaders to seek out mentoring opportunities. These will be called apprenticeships within the student leadership team, but outside the group it is simply the older students helping the younger students with life. Mentoring needs to happen both up and down…being mentored, and mentoring others.  Grade:  A.  What a great experience.  I was blessed to have an incredible intern who was eager to learn and dive into ministry.  I strongly encourage others to consider having an intern work alongside you at some point in the year.
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What I Learned on a Student Mission Trip to NYC

wol-logo-fullThis past week, I had the joy of leading a group of students to a mission trip to New York.  The beginning of the week was filled with hard work on the Word of Life Bible Institute Campus and Word of Life camps.  We mowed acres of land, and painted about a dozen cabins.  It was a full couple days of work.  Then, we took off for New York City to share the Gospel on the streets.  Here’s what I learned from this precious week of ministry…

No “I Can’t”.  We could have easily made this entire trip a week of work.  Painting, cleaning, and serving at the camp would have been a blessing to both our team and the camp.  We would have been physically stretched for sure, but these students needed something more.  This was a step of faith, and for some a terrifying step.  But they did it!  They shared their faith with complete strangers, handed out tracts to people passing by, and prayed with people who needed answers.  I saw fear change to boldness.  A boldness I hope will carry on to bring the Gospel here…and reach this city for Christ.

People Need the Lord.  Sorry for putting that famous Steve Green song in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s true.  There are people who are searching for something bigger, searching for hope, searching for joy, searching for forgiveness…and the list goes on.  And the Gospel can provide all these things.  God has provided a way of hope, joy, forgiveness and assurance of eternal life.  And people need this and many want to hear about it.GPS NYC tshirt design

God Controls The Weather.  I remember looking at the weather for our trip and seeing many days with rain in the forecast.  With good weather being of utmost importance, I just had to pray that God would work it all out.  Well, would you believe that it only rained when we were not doing ministry?  That’s right, it rained at breakfast one day, and on the days of travel.  Incredible!  God is truly in control.

I’m ashamed that I’m ashamed.  Why am I not sharing the sweet good news of the Gospel more?  Am I ashamed of the Gospel?  Am I too lazy?  Am I too busy?  If I’m honest with myself, it is probably a combination of the three.  There’s no reason why I cannot have more Gospel conversations.  It shouldn’t take 1500 miles of travel for me to be motivated to daily focus on sharing the Good News.  While I have the privilege of sharing Jesus regularly as a pastor, I fall way short of the faithful witness God wants me to be.

I love my “job”.  You may think I’m crazy for taking 7 teenagers into New York City (by the way, my wife was with us and she is amazing, and I brought another leader who was incredible on the trip as well).  Who would spend a week of their summer driving nearly 25 hours, staying up late, mustering up energy to get teens up (and yourself up), sleeping on cot mattresses on the floor…I LOVED IT ALL!  These teenagers bring me joy.  I get to see them share their hearts, help others, grow closer to God, encourage each other, fight through fears and frustrations, and come home changed.  I’m so very blessed to this for a living.

imagesSo for those that debate on doing short-term mission trips…do it.  Do it to find life-changing results.  Do it to change the culture of your youth ministry.  Do it to help spread the Gospel and the love of Jesus.  Do it because there is no lesson, program, or event you can design that does what these trips do.  The teens that got on that bus or van at the beginning of the week will be different when they step off that bus or van at the end of the week.  Go and make disciples of all nations!

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Never Underestimate the Youth of Today…Here’s Why

stop_underestimating_yourself_tyrone_smith1Skepticism is not abnormal.  In fact, it puts you in some pretty hefty company in the Old Testament.  Among the doubters – Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, King Saul, Isaiah, Ezekiel…and the one that used his age as an excuse, Jeremiah.

Now, I will give it to Jeremiah – he was young.  In Jeremiah, the Hebrew usage of this word child in Jeremiah chapter one referred to boys or youths.  I read several commentaries – and since there is no age given – the estimations range from a young boy to age 21.

There could very well be skepticism in your families, in our schools, and in our churches.  It could be in the mind of children or teenagers.  These ideas could have been put there by other adults that couldn’t see their potential.  Or they may simply have little confidence or are underestimating the special ways God can use them.

Adults often underestimate children and teens as well.  They may excuse their skepticism by saying they are looking out for their feelings or safety.  Underestimating is sometimes a lack of faith or a failure to see the special gifts of the youth of today.  Don’t underestimate what children and teens can do for the kingdom of God.

Parents – we cannot doubt what God can do in our children’s lives and what can be accomplished through them.  Kids & Teens – listening here and online – God can do amazing things in your life…NOW!

Let me give you some examples of what kids can do:

Picture1Alexandra “Alex” Scott was only 4 years old when she opened her front yard lemonade stand to help raise money for children with cancer. A cancer patient herself, Alex has seen her small stand grow from a curbside staple to a national fundraising revolution, boasting supporters, benefits, and events all across the country.  Sadly, she passed away at the age of 8, but her foundation (Alex’s Lemonade Stand) lives on and has raised more than $120 million and funded over 550 research projects towards the goal of putting an end to childhood cancer.

Picture2Shortly after basketball enthusiast Austin Gutwein turned 9, he saw a video that changed his life: a movie about children who had lost their parents to AIDS. Moved to make a change, Gutwein began Hoops of Hope, the world’s largest free-throw marathon, dedicated to raising money for orphaned children from across the globe and providing them with food, shelter, education, and health care. By doing something as simple as shooting free throws, Hoops of Hope participants have raised over $2.5 million.

Picture3It all started when a 9-year-old saw another student on the playground without a coat.  Since then, Maddy Beckmann made it her mission to keep kids warm in her native St. Louis, and her charity, Coat-A-Kid has coated over 10,000 children since its inception.

Why can’t our children and teens do that in our church, our community, and our country…they can and they are!  In our church, this is what has been happening because we have learned to not underestimate our youth:

Over 200 kids came to the Easter Egg Hunt to hear the Gospel & eat loads of candy…and the entire event was planned by teenagers.  Over 40 meals were delivered last October…by teens.  Two Bible studies were formed in the public schools…and were started by a 13-year-old and 15-year-old.  A community garden was planted in the local middle school…by teenagers.  2 years ago 3 teens were serving impoverished kids in Nicaragua  This summer, a team of teenagers are going to witness on the streets of New York.

Sorry Jeremiah, age is NOT an excuse.  God does not want to hear the excuses…He wants obedience.

(If you want to hear the entire message on “The Time is Now” click here)

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2015 Youth Ministry Goals

As the saying goes, “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”  It’s a saying that goes through my mind during this time of year.  Sure, God can re-direct, and we should always be willing to change our plans according to his direction.  But it is also wise to plan ahead and cast vision for the upcoming year.  Below are 8 goals that I have set for my 2015 ministry year…hoping they can provide you some inspiration as well.  Feel free to comment below with some of your goals!

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2015 Goals:

  • WIN Event—Continue to broaden worldview of students by teaching students the needs of the world. Also, provide an interactive learning experience where they research the world needs on their own.
  • Co-Mission Expansion—Collaborate with other youth pastors to plan a mission project or allow students to form community projects together.
  • New Events—These new events for students include CedarMania and a trip to the Creation Museum.
  • Community Reach—Continue the reach into community by working with a local school in a summer mission project.
  • Junior High Ministry—Continue to expand Junior High Ministry into more than Sunday School, but provide events just for Junior High.
  • Informal Hangout—This is a common request from teens. Add another “Hangtime”, and pursue opportunities to hang out with teens outside of church.
  • Student Led Mission Trip—Provide an opportunity for leadership students to lead a mission project over the summer.
  • Internship Track—Begin to develop ideas for future interns such as reading material, assignments, and training.

 

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Evangelism Resources

In a previous blog on Evangelism, I mentioned the value of setting students up for Evangelism success.  Now, before I move on, let me just clarify.  There is no A + B = Angels Rejoicing in Heaven.  In other words, God is in charge, and it is up the Spirit of God moving in the heart of that individual.  A teen could have a perfect Gospel presentation, and the person listening could still say no thanks.

That being said, it is important you give your students the tools to succeed in evangelism.  One was mentioned here, giving you the website for the wordless bracelets and 4 points bracelets.  These are so valuable because you do not need to bring any materials, simply wear the bracelet for a visual presentation.  It’s like having a PowerPoint presentation on your arm.

share-Jesus-on-TwitterHere are 5 resources that I have used or have had recommended to me are the following:

  1. The Mission Ball – A soccer ball with the Gospel?  Many mission trips will have a language barrier.  This tool can break the ice, and with soccer being a universal sport language, this could be your ticket to a Gospel conversation.  Their website describes it as “simply a soccer ball covered with Biblical text. It includes the 10 Commandments, God’s simple plan of Salvation, and selected Scripture.”
  2. May I Ask You a Question Tracts – These come in multiple languages and are simple to use.  Many people who have used these tracts call them simple, clear, and effective.
  3. Solarium – Are you a visual person like me?  These tracts provide a visual presentation, by presenting the Gospel through pictures.  A tool developed by Campus Crusade, and is described on their website as 50, 4×6 original photographic images and 5 simple questions that allow you to enter and explore the lives of people around you.  Soularium is designed to create a space for authentic dialogue with people about their life and spiritual journey. It’s perfect to use with students, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family – people of all ages!”
  4. EE – 2 Diagnostic Questions – Use these questions to begin Gospel conversation:  1. Have you come to a place in your spiritual life where you know for certain that if you were to die today you would go to heaven, or is that something you would say you’re still working on?  2.   Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God and He were to say to you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?”  What would you say?
  5. eCube – This cube designed Gospel presentation is great for child evangelism.  It’s easy to learn and use, and is a fun way to present the Good News.  This valuable resource also comes in a kids version.

So there you have it.  Help your students share Jesus with these five resources.  Set your students up for success.  Five fun ways to share the Gospel, which will re-energize the passion for the lost in your teens and provide learnable ways to share Jesus with others.

What about you?  What evangelism resources have you used in your ministries that have worked with teenagers?  Share in the comments section, and help others share Jesus more effectively.

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Evangelism Series – Mission Trips

Mission Trips.  What comes to your mind?  I can sum up my experience with these trips in two words:  life-changing and once-in-a-lifetime.  That’s right, I set the bar pretty high, but let me explain what I mean.

In presenting these trips to teens and parents each year, these are the two words I continue to come back to over and over.  Life-Changing.  It is rare that I see a teen, who has gone through training with the proper attitude and teachable spirit and that does not experience some type of spiritual life change (Barna Research agrees).  Once-in-a-lifetime.  How could I make such a claim?  Well, ask your parents, how often do you get to go to camps to serve for a week as an adult?  How often do you take international trips to Japan or Mexico?  Well, when you put it like that…I guess these trips are really Once-in-a-lifetime.evangelism3

So what about Evangelism?  How do you prepare the students to evangelize?  What tools have helped them feel equipped and ready to share the Gospel?  Here are steps to preparing your teens for evangelism for a mission trip.

  1. Train ‘Em.  Before I even start.  You must require each student to commit to mission training.  This training should last several months, and attendance is required.  (2 absences – extra assignment, 3 absences – meeting with parents, 4 absences – dismissal from team.  (Here are some previous article on mission training- here, here, and here)
  2. Can I Get a Witness?  You guys know this generation.  It thrives on community, relationships…while previous generations were centered on knowledge and facts…this generation seeks connections and a cause.  Well, that’s what a testimony can bring.  So, as part of your mission trip training, teach them how to give their testimony.  Both kinds of testimony – the obvious one and the most precious – when they gave their life to Jesus Christ.  But there is another – the testimony of what God is doing in their life now.  TEACH them how to develop these testimonies.  Have them write them out.  Have them share them with the group, with family, with friends…publicly in church or with in conversation with unsaved family & friends.
  3. Fool’s Gospel.  Make sure you are on the same page on what is the true Gospel.  There is some confusion as to what the Gospel is out there.  Guess what?  The Gospel is not giving to the poor, the Gospel is not helping your community…those are things that can lead people to the Gospel or can show the love that is in the Gospel…but not the Gospel.  The Gospel in a nutshell, is the Good News that Jesus, God’s only Son, who did not sin, died a painful death on the cross, to pay the penalty of sin, and provides forgiveness & eternal life in heaven for all those that repent and trust in Him.  It is not what we have done, but is all about what God has done in the finished work of Jesus…Our students need to know this.
  4. Tools For Success.  It is important we do not set our teens up for failure.  So, it is important we give them the tools to succeed.  For example – Wordless Bracelets, E3 Bands (My favorite), or 4points.  Have students wear these AND teach them how to use them.  Provide training on each color, what it represents, verses of support, and illustrations.  Practice within the group.  These bracelets have been so effective – I’ve had some of my students use them at children’s ministry events this year.  They set up a table and make the bracelets & share the Gospel with them.  All because they were given the TOOLS to succeed.  I don’t want these teens on the mission trip fishing with no bait on the hook.  With nothing to fall back on when they get nervous.
  5. Leave it to the Pro’s.  Bring in a professional.  If you are going to work with kids on the trip, bring in your children’s director (that may be you, I know) or an experienced Sunday school teacher, or someone with a teaching background.  Bring the generations together and allow that teacher to teach your students how to present the Gospel to kids.  (Intergenerational Ministry ).  Maybe you are going into a different culture.  Bring someone with that culture experience to teach them how they can be more effective with Gospel conversations.  (Example: Spanish Teacher from Community College)

Disclaimer:  Make sure your students are evangelizing at home too, and not just on the mission trips.  Remind them that every step they take is on the mission field.

 

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Mission Trip Responsibility List

misionesAs mentioned in previous blog posts, it is important to give the students responsibility on this trip, and raise the bar of expectations.  After all, it is called a STUDENT mission trip, not a Youth-Pastor-Led Mission Trip or a My-Parents-Made-Me-Go Trip.  It can be done a number of ways, but one easy way is to give a spiritual gift inventory, then use the results to give student responsibilities that fit their God-given gifts and responsibilities.  Before I give you list, keep in mind a couple of things:  Don’t underestimate these students, Don’t be afraid to let them fail (but not fall completely), and put them in charge of something.  Give them ownership…and here are some ways you can do that…here some examples of trip responsibilities:

Communicator/Trip Administrator: Keep the team current on what is needed at the meetings, keep the church updated on the progress of the team, and maintain home contact during the trip. (That was my job.)

Work Coordinators: Make sure all the stuff gets done in order for us to live. Organize efforts for bag lunches, clean-up, and make sure we have everything we need before going to a ministry site and again when leaving.

Team Encouragers: Make sure we “do everything without grumbling or complaining” and be available to team members when needed. Let them know they are appreciated and valued. Guard the morale of the team.

Communication Assistants: Assist adult leaders by leading tasks and communicating for them as asked.

Ministry Coordinators: Make sure presentation and programs are planned and executed in an orderly and excellent fashion.

Photographers/Videographers: Record images that capture the spirit of the team, the people, the culture and the sights of location to help us remember and to share the experiences with those back home.

Prayer Coordinators: Make sure the team is “praying without ceasing.” Take the initiative to bring the team together for prayer. Keep a prayer journal for the team, including requests, praises and answers to prayer.

Public Relations: Make sure we leave a good impression wherever we go. Prepare “thank you” notes for people we visit.

Praise Band Member: Assist the music leaders. Help lead music, teach hand motions, generate excitement for the songs.

Music/Band Leaders & Members: Need to find children music appropriate for program, come up with motions to songs, practice and know songs well, provide upbeat music portion of program.

Game/Prize: In charge of coming up with group games, organizing the materials, running the games, and distributing prizes.

Drama Team: Find or write a drama that fits the theme of the week.  Team members must memorize their lines, come up with prop ideas, and practice their skits/dramas regularly.  Organize dramas and practices.

Teaching Team: Organize supplies, including materials transportation. Make sure everyone has the proper materials, teach others on the team how to lead story, games, check inventory, etc.

Multi-media Team: Oversee sound equipment, including transportation from location to location, as well as projectors, setup, tear-down, etc.  Also will help with PowerPoint and videos when needed.

Crowd Supervisor: When not included in program, sit with the kids in the crowd, encourage participation, do the motions, create energy, and keep an eye on and control kids in crowd.

Hospitality Team:  Leaving a good impression wherever we go – hotel, conference, on the streets/neighborhoods, etc.  Also, need to make sure this is done during training & interaction at church.  PLEASE & THANK YOU’S ALL DAY LONG!

Cleaning Crew:  You are not a maid service.  However, you need to make sure rooms are neat, people pick up after themselves, & put stuff away.  We are sharing rooms, so don’t treat it like a bedroom.  A big part of your job is encouragement for the REAL maid service – leave thank you notes, and keep room reasonable.  (This applies to those staying in hotels, but can be modified to other mission trip locations)

Prop Set Leader:  Oversee equipment transportation, organizing props, setup, putting them away afterwards, etc.

Supply Team:  “Did we forget something?”.  Your job is to make sure we answer “no” to that question, both when we leave Columbus, and each time we leave the hotel.  Also, help keeping track of people.

Trip Mom: Covers what Youth Pastor/Leader cannot…be a mom to the kids.  This would include helping those that are not feeling well, those that get hurt, those that are crying, and other things that your Youth Pastor is poor at doing.

Team Secretary:  Keep track of all this is mission trip.  Help the Team Communicator and other program team leaders stay organized.  Will also help with organization of team meals and help assist the Schedule Administrator.

Schedule Administrator:  Make sure we are on schedule and not late to things.  Will update the team on what is next and where we need to be.  Will need to have a good handle on the schedule to update leaders & team.

 

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Mission Trip Training – 10 Steps to Prevent Disaster

What is the best way to prepare for a mission trip?  In a word…TRAINING.  You want to avoid the Romeo who tries to ask out the missionary’s daughter or the insurance deductible for what is left of the new orphanage wing…Well, here are 10 steps that will help prevent disaster and set the table for God to work.  (Disclaimer:  Accidents, Trials, and Difficulty can/will occur during mission trips, but there are some difficulty that can be avoided)MissionTrainingPortfolio

1.      Application Process

Mission Trips are serious business.  They must be handled differently than a trip to an amusement park.  You don’t just put a sign-up list on your bulletin board with cool font and clip-art graphics.  No, most of the trips are designed for those students serious about serving God and getting their hands dirty for Jesus Christ.   So what do you do?  You have an application process.  Have each student fill out an application, get references from their parents/guardians and another adult, and must be turned in by the deadline.  Following the application, have them interview with yourself (include parents & other leaders in the interview).  Lay out the expectations of the trip, the assignments, the attendance policy, and the behavior expected in each participant.  If the student cannot meet the expectations, it is in your and their best interest they are not part of the team.

2.      Here’s Your Notebook

Make it look official.  Give each student a notebook with the assignments, place for notes, support letter samples, contact information, prayer requests, release forms, etc.  Students will be able to keep their program assignments and other materials in one spot, and will be advised to take their folders on the trip.  Although it takes some work to put these notebooks together, it is well worth the effort.

Lessons for the notebook notes include Evangelism training, Bible studies on Missions, and assigned reading review.  Guest speakers from the church provide a great way to connect the generations in this effort.  I’ve had elementary teachers and children workers come speak on child evangelism, working professionals speak on leadership or give a “How to Paint” tutorial, and Spanish teachers teach us about Latin culture.

3.      Strict Attendance & Expectations

When I say strict, I mean it.  I give the students one excused absence from training which would include vacation, sickness, etc.  If they miss more than one, they will receive an extra assignment.  Two absences will result in a meeting with the parents.  Why so strict?  I want these students to take this trip seriously.  They will be representing Christ and our church in another state/country, and skipping training shows they don’t see the trip as important.

Also, as part of their attendance each time we meet, I ask each student about the following:  Devotions, Church Attendance, Book Reading, and other assignments.  If there is consistent neglect of these things, additional assignments, and/or meeting with the parents will occur.  If the negligence continues, the student may be dismissed from the team.

4.      Get Your Church On Board

Each year, we prepare a short 15 minute presentation to the church about the trip.  The students present the trip by preparing a PowerPoint, explaining the training, preparation, funds needed, and trip tasks.  A student also will pray for the trip following the presentation.  This shows ownership of the trip and the church will most likely get on board when they hear about the trip from the teenagers themselves.  (And when you get back, makes sure to organize a testimony service)

5.      Unwrap Gifts

unwrapThe last few years I have required that each incoming/new student fill out a Spiritual Gift Inventory.  Using the results of the inventory, I place each student in the groups that best suit their gifts and abilities.  Why would I place a shy introvert whose gift is serving in the lead teaching role?  Similarly, why would a type-A, brilliant communicator with a teaching gift be put in a primarily behind the scenes role?  Sure, there will be times when you go out of your comfort zone, but the primary role should be one that reflects their gifts and abilities, which will in turn allow them to reach their greatest potential for God’s glory.

Tasks and responsibilities could include/but not limited to:  Communicator, Work Coordinators, Team Encourager, Communication Assistants, Ministry Coordinators, Photographers, Prayer Coordinators, Public Relations, Praise Band Member, Teaching Team, Hospitality Team, Cleaning Crew, & Supply Team (Stay Tuned for Task & Responsibility explanation list later in the blog this month)

6.      Unity Doesn’t Just Happen

Unity takes so much work.  This past year we did a unity game and it was complete silence, frustration was high, and people were getting offended by their misuse.  But, we kept at it, continued to do unity games periodically in training, and the final unity activity gave me goosebumps…communication, laughter, leadership, encouragement…that was worth the effort.

7.      Provide Leadership Opportunities

Stretch your students to reach their potential in leadership.  Give them responsibility.  Allow failure, but be there to pick them up when they fail at times.  If the teens aren’t pushed and are not taken out of their comfort zone, your spiritual growth opportunity will decrease significantly.  Allow them to lead music, teach lessons, take the pictures, share the Gospel, lead the devotions…You let them lead, and it may be more work in the outset, but the blessings will be so much more than you ever expected.

8.      Practice Makes…It’s Never Gonna Be Perfect

This is a no-brainer.  You have to schedule time to practice.  Whether it is puppets, music, teaching lessons…give them time to practice during training.  Allow students to be leaders during these practices, particularly the upperclassmen running these practices of their particular part in the program.

9.      Don’t Forget About the Gospelmission-trip-checklist

Speaking of practice, give the students opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel, both real and imaginary.   Here’s what I mean.  Each year, I set up the gym like wherever we are going.  I typically ask 2 or 3 small groups to come and participate in a mock evangelism event acting like different kinds of people.  One year was a park in inner-city Chicago or New York, and other year we were at a camp with a whole bunch of adults acting like elementary kids.  It gives the teens opportunity to practice in a less-pressure filled environment.  As the teens mature and gain more experience, take them door-to-door or to local parks to talk to people about Jesus.

10.  Prayer

Last, but certainly NOT least, is prayer.  Inside the notebooks should be a list of prayer requests that you have for the trip.  Encourage students to pray for these regularly.  Design a prayer card with the team’s picture on it and send those out in your support letters.  Have those cards available in the lobby of the church for people to grab and put on their refrigerators.  Also, as seen in the responsibility list, designate 1 or 2 students to be prayer leaders.  Have these leaders design a prayer book for the trip, and during training have them lead the prayer time and also keep track of individual prayer requests along the way.

See 10 Keys to a Successful Student Mission Trip for more trip information and resources.

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How to Plan a Mission Trip Report Service

missions1In 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:

Music:

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.

Service Responsibilities:

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.

Trip Recap:

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.

Testimonies/Message:

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.

Video:mission-trip-Video1

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.

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2012 Goals – How did I do?

Why set goals and not take the time to check them off.  Sure, God gets the credit, but you get to cross it off the list.  And man, that is a good feeling.  So let’s take a look at the 2012 Goals, and give myself some grades.

  1. Provide more leadership for students, become more student-led –One big thing I did this year was hand over the worship band to a student.  Straight up. Took some faith, but it was in capable hands. So I took it a step further, I gave the students 1 youth group a month…literally gave it to them.  The 1st Sunday of the month, they do everything – I’m talking attendance, announcements, opening game, worship, & prayer time.  GRADE:  A2012goals
  2. Find more ways for students to connect & serve within the church – Students were already doing children’s ministry, my goal was to expand the students involvement and expand the student involvement.  Sounded like I repeated myself, but I didn’t, so leave me along Grammar Police!  What I did was raised the number of students involved in children’s ministry and I also raised the expectation of service for the experienced students (example:  some taught the lesson, and others were in charge of the craft/game).  Students can’t be just there to get out of service, because they won’t be able to get of service (see what I did there?).  GRADE:  B
  3. Begin contacts & establishing a public school ministry – Why is this so hard?  I attended a FCA meeting, and was able to make some visits to school’s extracurriculars.  However, I did not meet my goal.  Principals don’t want to return calls to youth pastors, so they don’t, and I haven’t had a door to walk through yet.  I may have found one recently, so stay tuned.  But otherwise, this was my biggest failure.  GRADE:  D
  4. Summer Mission Trip & Training – 4 months of training – included high behavioral expectation, weekly homework, development of several kid’s chapels, and raising funds.  Then, the trip itself was a complete success.  How do I measure that?  Through the growth of the teens both on the trip and after.  God also blessed us with 2 salvation decisions of kids…amen!  GRADE:  A-
  5. Attend Teen Leadership Conference – 4 Teens attended.  4 Lives were changed.  GRADE:  B+
  6. Better visitor  follow-up & visitor return – Ok, I developed a visitor follow up procedure.  But I still have not had the return that I would like.  Out of the 23 visitors, only 3 are regular attenders.  Sure, the others have repeated visits, which is great, but the regularity needs to improve.  GRADE:  C-
  7. Better orientation for 7th graders – Designed a program/class to help transition the 7th graders and had an event to help with the transition.  Seemed to be effective, but attendance of class was minimal.  Thought good, execution poor.  GRADE:  C
  8. Better Transition for Seniors into Young Adult & Adult Ministries  – This was a home run.  I did a series on worldviews that transitioned the seniors into the young adult ministry.  Saw a great return in that investment.  One senior in particular, who may not have made a clean transition otherwise, is thriving due to the gradual transition from youth group to young adult.  Very pleased with how things went.  GRADE:  A
  9. Continue ministry training/mentorship with senior pastor – How many youth pastors can say they both love their pastor and love the mentorship they receive.  Two thumbs up from this guy.  I’m serious.  So much knowledge, wisdom, and experience in that man, and I’m blessed to have it passed to me.  GRADE:  A
  10. I had a goal a few years ago to read at least one book a month. So let’s go for 2 books a month this year.  By my count, I have read 13 books with 5 almost finished or partly finished.  Unless magazines count, I’m gonna fall short of this goal.  GRADE:  Incomplete

Grade Point Average:  3.0, with average grade of B (not counting Incomplete)

Conclusion:  Sure some of these things were out of my control and some were set too high (I’m a slow reader!), but overall a B average is pretty good.  However, it isn’t good enough, especially when we are talking about ministry.  There are areas for improvement for sure.  IT was nice to see that these goals were measurable and somewhat reachable.

It is a blessing to do God’s work, and God deserves straight A’s.  Please pray that I can get better grades next year!  (2013 Goals – Stay tuned for next month’s blog entry)

How did you do?  Were there things that could not be accomplished on your 2012 goals list?  What are some goals you have for 2013?

 

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