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.
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.