Asbury Park, NJ courtesy of APP

Asbury Park, NJ courtesy of APP

As many of us attempt to get our students serving this summer, there is often a “trip” of some kind planned.   We plan, give packing lists, and prepare their hearts for  what’s ahead.   As the youth leader we are very focused on what OUR youth will get out of their time, and how it will impact them for eternal transformation.  This is the way it ought to be.


This summer I am on the other side of the mission’s trip.   As an inner city ministry in an area devastated by Hurricane Sandy, we have gotten an inundation of groups wanting to come and be with us for a week.  It has been interesting to be the bridge between those coming, and those who will receive help.  This has got me thinking

As you take off for your trip have you considered what your APPROACH will be?

To The Situation You Will Serve:

It is important to prep your team for the situation they will encounter as much as possible.  What will they see, smell, experience?   Some circumstances of abject poverty or desolation will be shocking.  When you arrive at a site the focus needs to be totally on those you are giving to, while processing your own reactions to the time there.  Students need to be prepped to take the work they will be offering seriously, to stay consistent in their time and efforts,  and to debrief with you in the evenings after their days.

To The People You Will Be Serving:

Destitute people in difficult situations rarely define themselves this way.  Are we giving or stripping a person of their dignity?  Make sure you approach every person you serve with respect and honor.   Before you make any assumptions ASK a person what they would LIKE for you to do for them.  Our opinions of what we feel someone might need,  isn’t nearly as important as the way they will receive our offering.

To The Partnering Site:

Even if you are going with a missions organization there is a group on the receiving end.   Are you respecting their methods and approach to ministry?  Are you asking them what THEY would like from you?  Communication, and follow through of their requests is vital.  Remember they were here before you came and they will stay after you and your students  go home.

If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with it would be this.  Remember, it is a privilege and an honor that a community has invited you in to be with them.   Sometimes we and our students need them really more than they need us.


Leadertreks has released a great free eBook to help and engage parents when their students go on a mission trip. Grab it today!

All programs and trips have short comings in youth ministry and one of them for student mission trips is that parents are not involved. Mission trips are better when parents work hand and hand with youth workers. In Helping Parents Connect, Doug Franklin outlines how parents can be involved in their students’ mission trips before, during, and after the trip. This tool is designed to get you involved from the beginning and to help parents grow with your kids through this experience.


If all goes well, by the time you read this I’ll be on my way to Rwanda with about 15 students and some incredible leaders. On the blog this week we’ll have all sorts of guest posts and guest editor-in-chief Geoff Stewart will be posting regularly as well. If you would, please take a second and pray for health, strength, and safe travel for our students. Excited!

Day ONE & TWO: Travel to Kigali, Rwanda
Pray for a smooth airport check-in. Pray for safe travel to Rwanda. Pray for rest and the preparation of our hearts for ministry. Pray that all goes smoothly with the logistics of travelling with a group our size.

Day THREE: Genocide Memorial and travel to our main ministry site
Pray that our students would be excited on their first full day of ministry, loving the people whom they are serving.  Pray that the team has a heart of compassion and understanding as we learn about Rwanda’s history today at the memorial.  Pray for safe travels to this rural city.

Day FOUR & FIVE: Church and meeting with pastors. PEACE activities
Pray for the people of Rwanda, that their hearts would be open to the Word of God as it is preached today in churches. Pray for great conversations as we meet with the pastors of local churches. Pray that we would be able to accomplish much with them in preparation for the week of ministry ahead. Pray for your student today.

Day SIX – NINE: PEACE activities with Churches
Pray for endurance for long days of ministry. Pray that our team connects with the Rwandan community, making them feel loved and cared for. Pray for friendships to be built among Rwandan and Saddleback students. Pray that the team continues to shine the light of Christ even if we are exhausted.

Day TEN: Travel back to Kigali
Pray for safe travels and rest as we return to Kigali. Pray for your students as they begin to process and debrief the trip. Pray that, as we conclude our time in Rwanda, we would be able to reflect on what God has taught us and encourage one another with stories of God’s work.

Day ELEVEN & TWELVE: Pray for safe travel back to America.
Pray that we adjust well spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Pray that God would continue to work in our hearts after we return. Pray that we would continue to remember and reflect on our journey in Rwanda. Pray for protection from sickness and fatigue.

Follow us on Twitter or Instagram for updates: @hsmrwanda

I was just checking out the Simply Youth Ministry website and ran across this closeout deal on a mission trip resource from LeaderTreks that looks super promising called Prepare Go Live. Of course, I’m a sucker for a good deal, too! Anyhow, might be something you would be interested in, too!


Last week was so much fun Simply Youth Ministry is bringing it back!

Today from now until 7pmEastern time you can get the 3-part mission trip kit Prepare Go Live for 80% off! Here’s a clip from the product description:

Few things will bring the gospel to life for your students like heading out onto the mission field. Spending a day, weekend, or longer in service to God, for his love, and with people in need brings the calling of Christ vividly into focus. With this easy to implement 3-part missions trip curriculum, you’ll get everything you need to get your students ready (Prepare), devotions for the trip (Go), and follow-up materials (Live) to make their experience part of an ongoing, godly lifestyle. And what good would we be if we didn’t include helpful stuff for leaders to make the whole trip more fun for everyone? No good at all, so we’ve given you plenty.


Here’s a video we used to promote an upcoming mission trip to Kenya with HSM. I’m so excited to go back again this year.


Evangelism is a scary word because so many of us believe we have to have a memorized plan or speech, we must preach to the crowds of people, or we must have a flashy and trendy way of presenting the Gospel message. We have taken the word evangelism and associated it with something difficult to do. In reality, evangelism is a lifestyle. It is simply how we live our lives. The truth is we evangelize daily. We point people towards Christ or away from Christ on a daily basis simply from how we live our lives.

I once heard someone say, “You will never talk to your friends about Jesus until you have talked to Jesus about your friends”. This statement has stuck with me over the years and has helped me remind myself and my students that the best evangelism is friendship evangelism. Our best witnessing efforts will happen with those whom we share real life with on a daily basis. Friendship Evangelism simply means “caring” for people. Someone once said, “The best evangelism takes place in a context of mutual trust and respect. It takes place between friends.”

In the context of student ministry I see students struggle with how to do evangelism. We strive to help shape their everyday choices to simply following Christ’s example. Christ lived and breathed evangelism. He took every day situations and taught truth from them. We want our students to realize that every bus ride, every lunch break, every classroom discussion, every practice or rehearsal are all opportunities to point their friends to Jesus.

We also believe that God calls us to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Because of that calling our student ministry goes on international missions as well as domestic missions. However, over the years I have noticed students willing to fly to other countries to share Christ but struggling to share Christ locally and domestically. Because of this mindset, we are now in our second year of the following strategic plan to help students create a healthy and biblical mindset of missions:

First we offer what we call Outreach Saturday Projects (OSP). These projects rang from yard work to nursing homes, to cleaning local school campuses, and everything in between. We leave our church campus and serve in our local community. Students who desire to go on our domestic or international trips are required to attend a percentage of these OSP’s.

Secondly we offer our Spring Break Mission Trip. This is usually a three to five day trip during their spring break where we go and serve domestically. Right now we are in our second year of partnering with the Florida Baptist Children’s Homes where we go and serve on location with them for our trip. This trip serves two purposes: first it forces students to make a sacrifice. They must sacrifice the beach and hanging out with friends in order to serve those less fortunate. Secondly, it allows me the chance to see them in action on the mission field dealing with changes, team work, etc. Any students who desire to travel internationally with us are required to first attend a spring break trip. They are only required to attend once but many students are already signing up for another trip simply because they understand the biblical purpose for the trip.

Lastly, we offer an international mission trip in the summer. This trip is usually seven to ten days in length and will be in a third world country. We are in a partnership with Guatemala for the next two years and thus we will travel to this country together. This trip is the climax for a student’s mission experience. They will be exposed to things they have never seen, they will see God work in mighty ways, and they will be used by Him in ways they could never imagine. They leave this trip understanding what it means to share Christ with the poor, hungry, and orphans. They will return home with a new outlook on life and because we have a strategic plan to take students from serving locally to serving internationally we have seen students truly understanding the biblical mindset behind the reason we go and serve. This in turn also helps in students living for Jesus and accomplishing the friendship evangelism in their everyday lives.

Jeff Dye is the Minister of Students at Northcliffe Baptist Church. Follow him on Twitter here!

The group of American teenagers piled into the back of a dump truck and bounced across the small South American town. Dressed in matching T-shirts, long skirts, and khaki’s, the students attracted a lot of attention as they held on to the sides. The students had spent their first four days of their short-term mission trip in this new culture leading vacation Bible school, constructing a roof for a small orphanage, and doing various sports ministries. Their leader hadn’t told them much about this visit, just that someone would be sharing with them. As they walked in the gate and into the compound, they were greeted warmly and ushered into a large marbled parlor that also served as a church on Sunday mornings.Their host had been a missionary for 30 years — to the United States. And for the following hour she shared her heart for reaching America with the Gospel. She challenged the students in two ways: 1) See the needs of the people in your own community and be missions-minded to them and 2) Learn from Christians in other cultures. I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of those American teenagers as they sat there wide-eyed, considering, for the first time, that missionaries come to … America? And that late afternoon meeting ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for them.

I often wonder what we’d think if a short-term mission trip came to the community around our churches. What would we have to explain about the peculiarities of American culture to them? In my region, how would I explain Amish to them? Or interpret the meaning behind ‘touchdown Jesus’ on the Notre Dame campus? Seriously, what needs would they work to meet and what would they do in ministry? How would we respond to having a short-term mission team from overseas come to our area? Would we help with similar graciousness as those that host our groups in other countries? Where would they see the gap between church culture and the local culture? And, perhaps more importantly, what could we learn from them?

For the last two years, I have worked on two book projects that have opened my eyes to the future of youth ministry at our doorstep and around the world. Globalization gains momentum each year and presses in on nearly every local youth culture around the world. A youth worker from Houston just caught me off to the side at a conference where I was speaking, overwhelmed with the new realities he faced. He asked about how to handle legal issues related to immigration, working with the dynamics of Southeast Asian family culture, and how to understand Buddhist theology. As much as some want to ignore cultural issues, they give dramatic to how we do youth ministry and how teens think about theology and the world.

I think a short-term mission trip is not only a fantastic opportunity for your students to serve, learn, and grow, but it is also an opportunity for you (and I) to learn and grow as well. The next time you are on a short-term mission trip, I recommend finding some local Christian youth workers, who will probably be volunteers, and take them out for a meal or coffee. Spend the time getting to know more about their stories and ministries. Ask them to share what lessons they’ve learned and what challenges they face. Ask them where globalization influences the youth in their community and seek to understand how the church has responded to the new cultural influences.

Most of our printed materials come from a very distinct culture within America, but most youth ministry in the world takes place in other cultures. I’m of the opinion that, as youth ministry continues to grow in excellence all over the world, we in America can learn from those who lead in other countries and cultures. And a short-term mission trip is a great first step to do that. I know I learned from the various authors of Global Youth Ministry how to recognize the gaps between church culture and youth culture. I’ve been challenged by youth leaders in Eastern Europe to see the potential for youth ministry to be a shaping influence in my local community.

We’re always looking for fresh insights about youth ministry. I think many of them in the coming years will be coming from people leading youth ministry in other cultures. If leaders are learners, short-term mission trips are fantastic learning opportunities that God might use to expand your vision and invigorate your ministry leadership.

Terry Linhart now teaches youth ministry at Bethel College in Indiana and blogs at His forthcoming book, What Can We Do? (co-authored with David Livermore), provides creative solutions for youth groups to get involved and impact the lives of people and around the world.