Runners (especially those of the marathon type) I have three words for you: You. Are. Crazy. I have no desire to EVER run a marathon, I greatly admire those of you who do (like my friend and fellow Youthmark-er, Kirk). Though I joked you’re crazy, the reality is, the vast majority of you are very wise! The way you go about doing a marathon is the way I believe youth ministries should practice the art of a short term mission trip.
The Marathon Starts Months Before the Actual Marathon Starts.
Kirk began training for his last marathon several months before he reached the start line of his 26+ mile journey. Likewise, mission trip preparation on every level should start several months before the actual trip. Out with the “sign-up and show up” mentality too many Youth Pastor employ. Whether you’re organizing your own trip, doing a turn-key organizational led trip or a combo, the trip itself may be well planned, but endurance and momentum are built well before the trip.
The Marathon is More Meaningful When Done Together.
Most runners enjoy running with someone (setting the pace for one another), but in addition having someone on the sides cheering them on, nourishing them with energy found through food, drink and encouragement does a world of good for those participating in the run. Likewise, on a short term mission, intentional partnerships with teammates, prayer partners (and prayer parents) back home and the nourishment of guides studies setting the pace will serve as soul-nourishing goodness.
Stretching Out After the Marathon is the Wise Way!
Stretching after the finish line can prevent a future soreness that may exist after a long-run. Missions often feel like a long-run and like a marathon, the spiritual muscles need to continually be worked out. However, all of the pre-race structure you felt leading in to a trip is a lot harder to sustain post-run (or mission)
Because I am not a runner I cannot speak to the myriad of other similarities a runner may blow me away with. However, I can say that I am just (if not more) passionate about the 51 weeks of life surrounding the mission trip as I am the actual mission trip. I believe it is time that we start seeing and treating mission as a full-time, right-here and over-there proposition. Our training is not just for a trip, it’s an investment into current and future mission (in “Jerusalem” all the way to the “Ends”). Some things to consider:
- Caution: Don’t be Lazy: Some of us don’t see training as a time-option. We’re “busy” so doing anything besides sign-up/show-up seems like it’d take too much time– you’re wrong! There are ways to incorporate your training into every aspect of your youth program.
- Wake-up: Some have every intent of including parents, prayer partners and guided devotionals, but you’re unaware of how easy it could be to solicit these partnerships.
- Financially Cautious: The mission may already feel like it costs a lot. I can tell you investing in something that lasts just weeks may serve as the nourishing grounds for something that extends an eternal lifetime!
There are other orgs out there doing some of this, but I am very proud to say that Youthmark has thought of ALL of this (and more). We want to see students equipped to reach out in all directions so that the end goal can be reaching his or her campus, club, community and church with the gospel of Jesus! We want to train you and your group for Mission51. Please check us out in order to dig-in for a far-greater preparation for what is ahead! Whether you have a trip or just need some materials for before, during and after, we’d love to partner with you (info here).