Now What? Surviving The Weeks After a Mission Trip

After my first mission trip, I got off the church bus and thought to myself, “Is this really it?  I just go back to my regular life now?”  That feeling has stayed with me after other student mission trips and TEAMeffort summers.  It is hard to transition from a time of deep community, limited access to distractions like internet or Netflix or back home troubles, daily devotion and worship, and serving your face off.  Moving back into “real life” can feel daunting or meaningless. 
A truth we can hold on to is that our time serving with TEAMeffort, or any mission trip, is real life.  Each experience we had, each way we saw God move, and each commitment we made is just as real as homework, deadlines, and our family and friends from home.  We can also be sure that the same God we felt so close to during our time away is the same God who will meet us in our kitchens, our youth rooms, our dorms, and sanctuaries when we are home.
We want to resource you with some ways to move back into your day-to-day after an experience like TEAMeffort.  Let us know what ways you have re-settled after time away from home!

Staff!  Wow!  You made it!  8 hard weeks of early mornings and late nights, lunch prep and construction, conflict and bonding.  Some of us walked into the summer knowing exactly what our August would hold, some of us had no idea, and some of us had our summer turn our plans on their heads.  Welcome to the badlands, as Doug would say.  There are some highly practical ways you can stay engaged in your faith as you transition back into your daily life:
  • Rest.  Rest with real, sabbath rest.  Binge watching your show you missed out on is great, but Sabbath rest gives you an opportunity to connect with God, and take a look at what He accomplished this summer in you
  • Spend time reflecting.  Use a journal if that is helpful to you, talk to some friends, and stay connected to your staff to remember the good, bad, and ugly- and how God moved through it all. Katie's story is a great example of reflecting on missions.
  • Have an answer prepared
    • One of the hardest parts of returning from a long time away is answering the question “So how was the summer?”  Having an authentic answer prepared will help you from feeling overwhelmed by emotions, and can serve as a witness to the one who hears is
    • Identify what made it special
      • What was it that made your time at TEAMeffort so different?  Was it the community, the worship, having so much opportunity to serve?  Identify what it was about the summer that made you come alive, and incorporate that into your life!  You can have a strong community back home, you can worship as often as you’d like, and there are more opportunities to serve than you will believe once you start looking for them.

Students! For some of you, this was a week of firsts- first time leaving home, first time leaving the state, first time to the beach or mountains, first time swinging a hammer.  For others of you, it’s just not summer without TEAMeffort!  Either way, you have experienced being stretched and put out of your comfort zone.  You have experienced new friends, conflict, learning a new skill, maybe even being without the comforts of home, like your phone or your own bed for a week.  With all the experiences and highs and lows you may have faced, it can be difficult to transition back into your day-to-day life.  It’s important to remember that the same God you felt so clearly at camp is the same God you have access to every day.  He is listening just as closely; He is looking to grow you just as much.
  • Think about what made your time away so special. 
    • Was it the deep community?  Was it learning something new?  Was it helping someone in need?  While it may not be exactly the same, each of these things are available to us back home as well. 
    • Ask your youth leader what opportunities there are to serve in your community or your church.  See if some friends want to start a weekly Bible study. 
    • Make an effort to connect with people in your youth group you don’t normally spend time with.  Think about what commitments you made during your week away, and find an accountability partner to hold you to them!

Youth leaders!  We know your week at camp or on a student mission trip can be one of the most stressful, yet most fruitful weeks of the year!  Begin to take stock of what was hard, what was awesome, and what you HAVE to do again next year.  Take notes now so when Summer 2020 rolls around, you’re ready to go!  
  • What students or chaperones stood out to you during your trip?
    • It may be time to invite that person into deeper levels of leadership within the youth group or church.  What can you encourage that you saw over your time away?
    • Identify what the students loved, and incorporate that into your regular youth ministry year.  Was fellowship over lunch the highlight of everyone’s time?  Was there a game that stuck around long after your week at camp?  Noticing what makes your students excited is a great way to capitalize on the energy of the summer.
    • Accountability
      • One of the hardest parts of a youth mission trip is the back home accountability. No one likes to be held accountable!  As a youth leader, one of your biggest struggles is holding your students accountable for the commitments they made over the summer, but this is a great opportunity to build relationships and spend some time together one on one.

Your time with TEAMeffort can be life-changing - and taking the time and being intentional after the summer is over can help ensure a sustained longing for Jesus and the peace, joy, and hope He offers us. What do you do to remember God’s faithfulness after a mission trip?  What is most challenging for you about returning home?  How can we help you through your transitional season?

No Comments