Congregational Prayer and Commissioning for Youth Mission Trips

You’ve registered your youth group for a summer mission trip. You’ve had parent meetings. You’ve maybe had a group preparation meeting to go over teamwork and training for construction work. You’ve fundraised. You’ve got all your paperwork done.

All set? Not yet!

Something we recommend each group does before they leave for their summer youth mission trip is to recognized and dedicate the group during worship one Sunday before they leave. What is especially important is to have the church pray for the group and commission them.

This is important for a few reasons.
1. It Ties the Youth to the Mission of God.

This is significant for showing the youth that they are a vital part of what God is doing outside the walls of the church. The words of the church’s prayer and commissioning should connect the youth with God’s work.

This helps youth see that they are part of something bigger than themselves. They are part of a movement: a movement still ongoing for 2000 years. 

As the youth go:
  • They are planting seeds (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). 
  • They are serving as God calls us to do for our neighbors (Lev. 19:18; John 13:12-14). 
  • They are being a witness in the world (Matthew 5:16)
2. It Confirms to the Youth that They are not Doing this Work Alone.

They have the congregation’s support and prayers with them as they depart. We see that Paul was encouraged by the prayers of the congregations that prayed for him (Romans 15:30). It is encouraging to youth to know they are in the minds and prayers of those back home. 

But most importantly, they will be assured that the Holy Spirit will go with them in the work.

3. It Connects the Youth to Their Local Church

As they go out and serve, they do so on behalf of their church. They are representing their home church. 

When the congregation prays and blesses them in worship, it connects the youth group to the entire church. This is different from knowing you are being prayed for (as #2 above). This is the assurance that you are also a part of the congregation that is praying for you. 

Youth need to know they are a vital part of the church and this is a way to emphasize this.
What to Include in the Prayer and Commission? 

Here are a few things we recommend to include:
  • Adoration: First, give God the praise for all He does.
  • Thanksgiving: Give thanks for the group called to do God’s work. 
  • Intercession: Ask God to go with the group and direct their path. Pray for how they will affect the lives of others but also for how God will work in their life. Pray for their witness, their use of their gifts, and for unity in their combined efforts.
  • Dedication: Lift to God (as a group or by name) those going. 
  • Affirmation: Affirm your faith and that of the congregation. Ensure that the church will continue to be in prayer for each person going. 
How to Structure It?

There are many ways to do this but most churches go one of two routes. For both, it is great to have the group come stand before the congregation in front of the church. 

Individual Prayer
One is to have a person in the congregation (typically the pastor or youth leader) pray for the group. You could lay hands on them and/or invite the congregation to extend a hand towards them.

Short Example Following the Recommendations Above (edit as you like):
God, we give You honor and praise for how You hold all things together and for the grace and mercy You give us each day. We thank You for how You call each of us to Your purpose. But today, we give special thanks for calling this group of youth and chaperones. This is not just any trip because You are calling them to something bigger this week: to be a witness to You, O God, in the lives of those they will serve. Give them unity and direction through Your Spirit. And through their service, we pray that You also mold the hearts of each member of the mission team to be more faithful followers of Your Son. We lift each one up to Your care as they go forth as members of ______________ Church and children in Your Kingdom. AMEN.  

Congregational Recitation 
The second option is to invite the congregation to participate in the form of a call and response commissioning. Many denominations already have litanies you may follow or edit with pastoral approval, so be sure to also check your denomination’s resources.

Short Example (edit as you like):
Leader: God, we give You honor and praise this day
Congregation: For how You hold all things together and for the grace and mercy You give us each day.

Leader: We thank you for calling this group of youth and chaperones.
Congregation: We celebrate their calling. Help them be a witness to You, O God, everywhere they go and in the lives of those they will serve. Give them unity and direction through Your Spirit.

Leader: As you use them to be Your witness, we also pray that you mold each of their hearts. Guild them to become more faithful servants and followers of your Son, Jesus Christ. We give to your care __________ (Name each member aloud.). 
Congregation: We dedicate these to your service to go forth as members of _____________ Church. We affirm our continued prayer and support as a congregation on behalf of their service to You. AMEN

These two commissioning prayers are short examples we hope you will find fruitful and will give you guidance on ways to dedicate and bless your youth group on their mission trip. As your local church is praying for you and your youth, we here at TEAMeffort are in constant prayer for you, too. We especially pray for how God will work through and within your youth group.