Going On a Youth Mission Trip 102: Part 2

If the Devil doesn’t succeed in overwhelming you at the beginning of planning your youth mission trip, he’ll ramp up his efforts hoping to have a better chance overwhelming you in the specifics. After all, “The devil is in the details.” But he doesn’t have to be!

How to Get the Devil Out of the Details

Thinking through each step of the trip from start to finish is the key to simplifying all there is to get done and decide. We’ll help you begin by unpacking the C.O.S.T. acronym introduced in the last post. We can’t promise there still won’t be problems, but hopefully this information will help make things less complicated.

Mission Trip 102 - Commitment:  Creatively Serve, Sacrificially Love

Where you’re going isn’t as important as why you’re going and who you’re serving. If you are going on a short trip, there are different types of services you can provide to your community over a short time-frame.

Some examples are soup kitchens, homeless shelters, pregnancy centers, city clean-up, or city park landscaping projects. Your church leadership may be able to provide you with elderly, infirm, or other members-in-need in the church who could use lawn care (leaves raked, weeds pulled, and/or general yard clean up), house cleaning, or grocery shopping.

Maybe there is a church plant in a neighboring community that you can encourage by distributing door hangers announcing their presence in the area, working with the new church to put on a VBS for the neighborhood kids, or helping them set-up their rental space for the church to meet.  

If you can commit to a longer trip, there are different organizations that provide many of the logistics to help support your youth group. A great place to start your search is by visiting www.teameffort.org! ☺

Another option is to partner with a missionary or church planter your church supports.  As you travel to their country or state, your group will have a unique opportunity to learn from experienced ministry leaders, adapt to a different culture or language, and offer encouragement, fellowship, and assistance in any way they need.

Mission Trip 102 - Organization: Lead, Communicate, Delegate

Maybe you already have a leadership team in place but, if not, you’ll want to recruit a few other adults to help you plan. As you identify who the leaders are, you can work on deciding where to go, how you’ll get there, who is going and compiling a budget including what the church is able to contribute and what the youth cost will be.  

Next, you’ll want to begin preparing students spiritually (and culturally, if necessary), and delegating aspects of the trip to the other volunteers, chaperones, and church staff who will be attending.

A few things to consider delegating: planning fundraising activities, communicating details to parents/guardians (cost, dates, travel plans, packing list, fundraising dates, standards for eligibility, etc.), researching any travel requirements (particularly if you’re traveling outside of the US) like vaccinations, passports, and other forms of ID that may be necessary.

Remember to alert parents/guardians of these needs, giving them plenty of time to schedule appointments and complete the necessary paperwork. Last, you’ll want to communicate the dates of the trip with any volunteers so they can request time off work.

Mission Trip 102 - Size: Eligibility, Unity, Teachability

Knowing where you’re going and what you’re doing should help shape what eligibility for participation looks like. You’ll want to evaluate the youths' overall maturity, if they have a teachable spirit, and if they promote unity in the youth group.

This may mean only Sr. High youth group members can go. Asking them to meet basic requirements (ex: attending the fundraisers unless a previous obligation prevents you, being faithful to church attendance and youth group attendance, participating in the preparedness meetings, which may include reading a short book/article, instruction in cultural understanding, etc.) before going will help them take ownership of the trip as well as allow you an opportunity to observe their life.

It’s important that they understand God wants to work in them as well as through them.

Mission Trip 102 - Travel: Ride, Rest, Refreshments, Recreation

Regardless if you’re going near or far, this aspect will perhaps take the most planning.

Delegating this to someone who is familiar with shopping around for the best prices and then booking airfare and/or renting vehicles would be ideal. You’ll also need to consider where you’ll stay when you get to your location (dorm, host homes, the church, etc.) and who is going to organize that. Also, you’ll want to determine who will provide meals for the trip.

On a youth trip to Canada, two of our chaperones came almost exclusively to plan the recipes, purchase the food when we got there, and cook and serve our group meals out of the church kitchen for the duration of the trip.  We didn’t want to be an extra burden to the church we were helping. Last, plan for some fun!

Look for a few nearby attractions (ex: theme park, beach, hiking, well-known monuments, etc.) where you could spend a day exploring. Serving Jesus while building new relationships and strengthening existing ones is a huge benefit to youth mission trips.

Bon Voyage!