It’s a mission trip not a vacation. This is a value I have been trying to get teens and adults in our church to grasp in regards to teen mission trips the last several years. When I have conversations with youth ministers in various church sizes, denominations, and locations it seems to be a struggle many are having when it comes to conveying the purpose of taking teens on a mission trip. When it comes to youth mission trips it can begin to be viewed as just one more thing the youth do each year a.k.a “The teens each year always have a retreat, go skiing, do a car wash fundraiser, and go on a mission trip.”
In my humble opinion here is the problem, I believe we can begin to forget the purpose in why we go on a mission trip in the first place. I know people will probably have various reasons in taking youth to various locations whether they be domestic or international but here is my rational…
1. To go into the world and make disciples
In the great commission we were given the mission to go out into the world to make disciples. For this to happen we have to personally be growing in the faith ourselves, we need to be a part of the church body, we need to be seeking Christ both in our individual lives and as the body of Christ together. I know some will definitely disagree with me on this point and say that a youth mission trip is a great place to bring a teen who does not know Christ in hopes of them coming to know him throughout the week of service. Does this happen at times? Sure, but my question is should that be the focus? Should the focus be on bringing teens who don’t know Christ or have strayed and are making really poor choices right now in hopes of them turning things around? Or should it be on taking teens who are seeking Christ in their everyday lives and want to share the love of Christ with those around them? Obviously no one is perfect except Jesus and all teens and adults will have room in their lives for growth in their faith but what will be the focus?
2. To reach out to hurting world
We continually see through the scriptures Jesus reaching out and helping not only spiritual needs but physical needs as well. We can read through the scriptures and see where when Jesus met the physical need of someone it opened the door for the spiritual needs as well. Mission trips are a great opportunity to reach out to those who are hurting around us.
I live in Ohio and this year I decided to take our teens to Cincinnati, Ohio for our youth mission trip. Every other year I have taken teens out-of-state but I wanted the teens to see that people in our own state are hurting and need physical needs met as well as spiritual healing through Jesus Christ. I want them to see that we are not going on a mission trip so they can get away from home for a week, we are not going so they can goof off with friends for a week, we are not going for a vacation but we are going to so we can spread the name of Jesus Christ.
Why do you bring youth on a mission trip?