So… you’re going on a mission trip this summer. You’re the one in charge and you’re planning everything. You’ve selected the location, the local partner, the service you’re doing, how long you’re going to be there, the place you’re going to stay, the meals you’re going to eat, who’s speaking during your worship services, and who’s driving the vans. Whew! Did I leave anything out?
That’s a ton of work. And then, you’ll be the one in charge the whole time that you’re there (not to mention the trip to and back). Wow… that’s a lot. But, wait…
Doug Fields’ post about Serve first… lead second made me think about all the incredible leadership opportunities that exist in a week-long summer mission trip. Within the context of that week away from home, in uncomfortable situations, real significant growth can be be produced in a teenagers life. It’s a great situation to give them a chance to lead. Here’s a few ways you can facilitate that and make your life easier during the mission trip.
1) The Service Project: Why not let one of your youth be the leader at the project site? Once you know that details of the project and have made sure the basic safety issues are covered – let one of your kids lead. How cool would it be to see a 15 year-old girl organize and direct the work of her peers and adults? Imagine the pride a teenager would feel knowing they gave the guidance and encouragement everyone needed to serve well. You’ll be there to make sure nothing “goes wrong” but maybe you can give up control and see your students succeed.
2) The Worship and Devotions: You’ve planned for times of worship during your mission trip. Think about how you can give students a chance to lead in those moments. Can a student lead a devotion during lunch at your service project? Could a different student pray each night as part of your worship service? You could also encourage your teenagers to share a testimony or “God Sighting” of what God is doing in their life (recently or during the trip).
3) At Your Lodging Facility: This is great place for your kids to step up and take the lead. Let a student lead free-time activities. Give a student the opportunity lead the dish washing crew or the bathroom cleaning crew. If you’re cooking your own meals, give your students the chance to actually cook (please follow applicable safety guidelines).
Your mission trip experience can be so much more than only serving someone in need. And it can be so much more than you being the only one leading. There are many, many opportunities for you to see real growth in students. Don’t miss out on the chance to see the teenagers in your group grow as leaders as well.