Below is an excerpt of an article I wrote for Youth Specialties. Click the link at the bottom to read the entire piece.
Oh, the mission trip. These short-term, service-based excursions have been a mainstay of youth ministry programming for years. Not only do they help teenagers to think beyond themselves, but it often gives them a renewed joy of serving that is gained from their new perspective. For many of our churches, they are also great ways to connect with missionary partners around the world.
Mission trips can also be the bane of some youth pastors’ existence. There are so many details to figure out, especially if you are going out of country. The fundraising can be a pain, no matter how good you are at it. And there are tons of papers for the students to turn in, and we all know how good students and parents are at turning in paperwork.
So if we still believe in these trips, how can we make them better? I think one of the best ways is to plan ahead. Plan way ahead—at least a year. And with that in mind, here are three ways to think ahead about your mission trip.