There was a moment in the movie Soul Surfer that made me laugh that probably wasn’t noticed by 99.9% of the audience. The movie portrayed Bethany Hamilton making a last minute decision to join her youth group on a mission trip to Thailand. She showed up at the airport as they boarded the plane and asked if she could come (and did)!
Unfortunately the truth is, a lot of youth group short term missions are actually done in a similar fashion. Many churches operate with a sign-up/show-up mentality. Students sign-up in April, participate in a few car-wash and bake sale fundraisers that are done predominantly by the parents and then the Youth Leader hosts a couple meeting where favorite scriptures are shared and packing lists are distributed. Come June a few have dropped out due to funds, family vacation or a break-up. And on the flip side a few have added because funds, family vacations were changed and a new relationship sprouted and “the Lord wants us to serve together.”
Sadly… very little prayer support has been generated, many congregants just know you’re going on a trip (camp? retreat? vacation?), students view the mission through the eyes of a consumer (what will I get out of this) and too many youth pastors are hoping to produce a spiritual high.
Though a sending team WILL get a ton out of the trip; spiritual, emotional and practical preparation must be done before, during and after the trip. Focus and attention must be given to the people and organizations you’re going to serve and a sustainable change after the mission can and should be the goal!
I am proud of what we’ve been able to do with hundreds of ministry partners over the last few years at Youthmark. But leading short-term missions has never been our primary goal. Our goal is MISSION51! We want to see participants equipped for the 51 weeks of life outside the mission. We believe the mission trip is simply a catalytic and/or culminating event in the midst of the other 51 week mission to our own Jerusalem!
Whether you’re signed up with another great organization, planning a mission to support one of your overseas missionaries or up in the air on what you’re going to do this summer, Youthmark would like to help augment your overall mission experience (and transform it to MISSION51!). Check out our newest “Strategy Pack” that can be used by a group who especially already knows what they’re doing for their trip!
In addition, those of you in the Southern California, Houston, Colorado and the Northwest, Youthmark offers a Mission51 Retreat (24 hour evangelism equipping retreat). For a limited time we’re offering this retreat for only $51 per person (normally $79) when you purchase the Strategy Pack. Please call us 800.455.1450 to inquire.
- San Diego: March 9-10
- Houston: March 16-17
- Seattle: May 4-5
- Seattle: May 11-12
- Portland: May 18-19
- Denver: June 1-2