It Takes a Church: Sending Your Youth Group Off Well

In just a few months, the church of tomorrow will be heading out your church doors for their TEAMeffort Missions Trip. We pray it will be a significant experience in their relationship with Jesus and their future investment in His work near and far. You most likely have been involved in bringing them to this point through contributing financially, helping with fundraisers, and praying for them.

As camp approaches, here are some special things your church might consider doing to send them off well. (You may already be doing these things, so take or leave what applies to your church context!)

1. Find out the specifics

Find out the specifics of where they’re going, who they’ll be serving, and what their general schedule will be. You can always check out our website for an overview of what camp involves and read through the details about the area they’re serving in.

2. Partner in prayer 

Partner in prayer with a student or two. Find out what their expectations are, what they’re nervous about, and what they’re looking forward to. Ask them if they have any specific requests you can be praying for through their trip.

3. Don’t forget those on the outside

There may be students going with your youth group who are not directly involved in your church. Maybe they’re coming with friends or maybe their parents are making them go because they think it will be good for them.  Regardless, sometimes these students can be marginalized and maybe even seen as a threat to the “real” church youth group. However, this can be a mission within a mission! Maybe this is the first time some of them will hear the Word of God and see their need for Jesus. Think about how you can reach out to these students and make them feel loved, welcomed, and assured that they are being prayed for and supported too. 

4. Provide Snack Bags for their road trip

A Trail Mix Bar is a fun way to send them off and wish them happy trails! Have some separate containers filled with salty and sweet finger snacks and paper cups or plastic sandwich bags they can use to carry their snacks. A few favorites for the mix are gummies, Cheez Its, and the marshmallows in Lucky Charms cereal. Here’s a website with a “recipe” if pictures and specifics are helpful.

5. Provide a few road trip games

Provide a few road trip games to encourage group interaction. This is one I recently bought for our family

6. Come to the church to pray

Come to the church to pray with them as you send them off. It’s so encouraging when your local sports team is heading out of town to a big tournament and the school and community rallies around them with a special send-off. How much more should we celebrate and encourage our students who are pursuing work that’s more lasting than a championship title?

7. Order or make church/youth group T-shirts

Order or make church/youth group T-shirts before they leave. Having a visible reminder of their connection to their church back home encourages them that they aren’t alone in mission. It shows they are connected to something bigger than themselves and are accountable to that place as well. Practically speaking, this is also an easy way to find the group when there are several other students about the same size and volume level as yours!

8. Consider sponsoring a student 

Consider sponsoring a student who needs extra money. For some students it may have been all they could do to scrape the money together to go on this trip. Consider buying them some of the things they need to bring by asking the youth leader for the packing list. Or you could provide them with some spending money for extras along the way (money for their ‘Free Day,” souvenirs, food, etc.)

9. Stay up with their trip while they’re gone

Stay up with their trip while they’re gone by following TEAMeffort on social media. You’ll be able to live through the week with them as you see the pictures of what they’re experiencing, singing, or hearing in chapel. When they get home, you’ll be able to ask specific questions based on what you’ve seen. It will mean so much to them to know that you cared enough to take the time to pay attention to what they were doing. You can follow us on Facebook here and on Instagram here.

10. Encourage them

There are so many voices and distractions seeking to pull them away from following Jesus. Tell them how proud you are of them, that they’re prioritizing this trip and spending their time investing in others.

11. Hold a special missions-focused time

Hold a special missions-focused time in a church service or even a whole service dedicated to informing the church about their trip and some of the specifics of it. Maybe a few of the students would be willing to share how the church can be praying for them as a group and the people they’ll be serving. Then have some people lead the church in public prayer over the group.
Paul and other apostles made it a habit of requesting prayer from the church for their missionary endeavors. Although your students will only be gone a week, they are still experiencing life-changing work and need God’s help through each step of it. Here are a few verses to pray for your group.

Ephesians 6:19 - Pray. . .for [us], that whenever [we] open [our] mouth[s], words may be given. . .so that [we] will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel,

2 Thessalonians 3:1, 2 - Brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith.

Hebrews 13:18, 20, 21 - Pray for us. . .may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip [us] with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Thank you for participating with your youth group in the gospel in these and other tangible ways. You are living out the truth that God has put his church together with many parts in one body, each part having equal concern for each other (1 Corinthians 12:20-27). May God bless you for being a part and doing your part!