Discipleship on Youth Mission Trips

Whether you’re a youth leader bringing your students, a camper attending the trip, or Summer Staff dedicating your whole summer to missions, I think discipleship is a common goal and hoped for outcome from any youth mission trip. In fact, it is one of the reasons why taking your teens on a mission trip can be important for your youth ministry. We pray for and prepare for these weeks of getting out of our comfort zones and into a spiritually focused environment to physically serve in a big way, and this summer, let’s start praying for moments of good conversation, breakthrough and the development of solid discipleship to start while on your mission trip this summer.  

In thinking about discipleship on a youth mission trip, I can’t help but be brought back to a beautiful moment from camp this summer.   We were on a site where the home was essentially unlivable, but with a family living inside of it. Campers hadn’t been at the house more than a couple of hours before the ceiling caved in. From most of our perspectives, this house was beyond saving. As TEAMeffort, we got to come in and reframe this trailer home, repair the roof, all of the interior drywall, and make it livable again. Towards the end of that first week there, two campers from different churches were talking, one a high school senior, the other a sixth grader. The older camper was talking about redemption, and how Jesus takes us from bad, broken, and essentially “beyond saving” and turns us into something beautiful, whole and worth treasuring. He used the transformation of the house sitting in front of them to help make this concept make sense to the younger camper. This high school senior saw a moment to teach about Jesus, and to make a new concept make sense to an eleven year old, and he took advantage of that. These are the moments we’re praying for this summer!

So what can discipleship look like while on a TEAMeffort trip? Here are some ideas we have for y’all:

Youth Leaders discipling their students:

  • Consider setting up small groups/prayer partners within your youth group, and set aside time for them to meet during the week and after you’re home!
  • Use time on the mission site while you’re doing jobs like painting, laying shingles or nailing down decking boards to really talk to your students about how the week is impacting them.
  • Be sure each student is getting some one on one time from a youth leader or chaperone!
  • After the trip, use our Post Trip Devotional to follow up on and continue what was learned during the youth mission trip!

Staff discipling their campers:

  • Like the older camper did, use the image of your mission site and the change that is happening to talk about Jesus and the change He makes in all of us.
  • Be around during the down time (like at the camp store, after chapel and during meals), and anticipate and initiate conversations about what the Lord is doing this week!
  • Ask your campers what they thought about last night’s chapel message, and how they related to it.
  • Be ready and willing to share your testimony, and what you were going through when you were your campers’ age, and how Jesus used that.

Camp Directors discipling their staff:

  • Spend one on one time with each of your staff members, checking in not only on how they’re doing at camp but also asking about what’s going on at home and with their family.
  • In addition to your daily Staff Devotion time, add in time to be in prayer together as a staff and share highs and lows of the day!
  • Spend time talking to each staff member about what they’re learning in their quiet times and what they’re learning from the summer itself.
  • Stay in touch after the summer! Stay up to date about how your staff got back involved on their college campus, how their quiet times have been, and how what they learned leading youth mission trips over summer is still affecting their day to day life!
Finally, part of discipleship is diving into the Scriptures. Check out these Bible verses that speak about missions.