Having a Missional Mindset

You are probably in full swing of the school year by now! Despite it looking different than previous years, having a full, and busy schedule probably hasn’t changed. Having students with needs, difficulties, and hardships probably hasn’t changed. Communicating with your church leadership, coordinating events and planning weekly messages probably hasn’t changed. Despite all that has changed over the past several months, your role has not! You have continued to invest in, disciple, love on, and pour into students through various platforms. You have continued to sacrifice time, walk in patience in having to use more technology than anyone could ever want to use, and become the most creative youth leader ever as you’ve reached out to students in new ways.

Something that might feel like a lifetime away is your mission trip this summer! There is a lot that is going to happen in the school year before June and July hit. Once the spring rolls around, talk of the mission trip becomes more of a focus, and preparing for the trip fills up all the chatter! From packing lists to permission slips, to growing as a group, to planning free day activities, there is a lot that goes into it! One of the biggest conversations we are sure you’re having is about a missional mindset while on your trip.
 not in vain!
It’s valuable to spend time with your youth before your trip to talk about what it will look like to serve someone else for the week. What their living situation and lifestyle might be like, what they are used to that perhaps seems strange to us, even being with other youth groups for the week, and choosing to serve them are probably a part of your conversations to prepare. But, what about those months before the talk of the trip begins? What about right now and having conversations about being missional? What about being missional when you can’t be in person as often or have online classes?

The challenge is not about developing students into having a missional mindset for your mission trip, but encouraging them to live it out during the year so it is second nature on your mission trip and you can choose to go deep in other ways. As followers of Jesus, our job is to be missional! To work willingly for the Lord in whatever we do (Col. 3:23-24), serve the least of these (Matt. 25:40), to be blessed in giving not receiving (Acts 20:35), or to serve and not be served (Matt. 20:28).

So, here we will leave you with a few ideas on how to maintain a missional mindset during the school year instead of just during your mission trip:
Talk About It! You are already providing amazing content for your students from week to week. Toss in an additional discussion question or point to your message about how living for the mission of the Gospel is a part of everyday life of walking with Jesus. Have students share about how they are doing that now, or maybe a way they can choose to step into that.
Do Something! Despite times looking a little different, there are plenty of people that still need the truth and comfort of Jesus! Write cards to people in your congregation, have a prayer board for student’s friends who don’t know the Lord yet, have students clean up the pews or seats after Sunday service, or have them volunteer to hand out bulletins.
Have Accountability! We are sure you are using accountability in your youth group as it is, so why not add in some ideas about being missional together. Maybe it’s encouraging the students that go to school together to pray before lunch with each other or choose to sit with someone who usually sits alone at lunch. Maybe it’s going to a sporting event for a younger student to cheer them on, or in groups to volunteer to clean up the youth room and bathrooms after meeting. Doing it together, and being able to talk about it together makes all the difference!
Share Truth! It’s easy to do something for someone and know personally why you are doing it, but it’s much harder to share that verbally with someone else! Brainstorm with your youth about a verse they could share with someone, about how their testimony is powerful and worth talking about, and above anything else, continue to have them talk through explaining what the Gospel is and how they would share that with someone.
Be Uncomfortable! Going on a mission trip can be a bit of a culture shock at times. You’re away from home, you are around people you don’t know well, you are serving someone who lives a potentially very different lifestyle than you do, it’s uncomfortable! But, usually once we get into the ‘swing of it’ during the school year, we are pretty comfortable. We all have our routines, friend groups, schedules, and we know what to expect. Challenge your students in being put in uncomfortable situations. Go together on a weekend and clean up trash at a local park, get rid of one piece of clothing/game/toy a week, and at the end of the month go together to donate it, reach out to school contacts and see if they have opportunities to volunteer with the janitors who work at their schools.

Know that you are doing an amazing job and we admire you! We know you do so much more than what is seen or recognized, and your labor for the Lord is not in vain!