8 Tips to Planning a Life-Changing Mission Trip

Real life transformation occurs when Jesus disrupts our routine and gets us outside of our comfort zones…Amen?! When teenagers get outside their daily routines and away from their phones, powerful growth occurs…especially when they serve others. They are able to take the focus off of themselves.

They’ll get away from peer pressures and embrace their identity in Christ. Millions of teenagers over the years have been transformed by mission experiences. Planning a mission trip can be intimidating, so here are eight “sanity tips” to plan a life-changing mission trip without losing your mind…

1. Don’t do it all yourself.
You might be great at planning events but mission trips require different expertise. Maybe you’re looking for a community service mission trip, but unless you have relationships with local non-profits or ministries in the area you want to serve, it may be very challenging to find meaningful service partnerships. Perhaps you want to try international missions, but don’t know the first thing about customs or packing light for a youth group. A youth mission trip organization like Group Mission Trips can share their experience to make this process more seamless.

2. Determine How Long The Trip Will Be. If you are just starting out, try a shorter trip. Get comfortable with the process of doing a mission trip before you jump off the deep end. It’s similar to running a marathon, if you strap on your running shoes and try to run 26.2 miles on your first run you will end up dead. A good place to start may be Group’s four-day Weekend Workcamps.

3. Choose: Domestic or International trip? The choice is going to be driven by what everyone is comfortable with and where you feel God is leading you. The right mission trip provider can help you find the right destination. If you are going international, find a mission trip partner who embraces the concept of sustainable local ministry…where you come to serve and not be served.

4. Engage key teens and parents early and often. Talk to them about the benefits of going on a mission trip and how this experience will help teenagers with leadership and life perspective. Parents can be your best ally. They want their kid to embrace their faith and a mission trip can do just that. OVER COMMUNICATE! Once is never enough, so keep the conversation going.

5. Shocking truth…the type of mission trip is not as important as you think. Getting into the habit of serving takes a lot of pressure off of finding the perfect trip. Start with the date that works best for everyone and then work back into the type of service. Going the other direction can cause a concussion from constantly beating your head against the wall.

6. Don’t wrestle against other activities. You are trying to work with these other activities not against them. Early in January, most schedules for summer events will be posted. Find the most amendable date and go with that.

7. Use this as a strategic way to get more committed volunteers for your youth ministry. Identify key parents who you want to be more involved in your youth ministry. Approach them with this opportunity to not only have their son or daughter to on a life-changing mission trip, but that they can be a part of that experience.

8. Emphasize friendship. Deepening friendships with others and Jesus is the secret to growing and sustaining a vibrant youth ministry. Start with friendship first then move to Bible knowledge. Want more time-saving wisdom to plan your next youth mission trip?

Get your FREE “90 Days to Summer Mission Trip” Planner from Group Mission Trips!   [Click Here to Download Now!]

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How to Get Students Reading Scripture

I have had a huge burden for a few years now to get students to read the scriptures.  I’ve come up with a way that many of them have been receptive too.  Simply by sending scriptures to their mobile phones!  Now hundreds of students and adults have signed up to receive these.  If you’d like to share with your youth group, simply tell your students to text FOLLOW MYSCRIPTURES to 40404. Each day they will receive a verse from the Holy Bible that I select personally. It’s that easy!  

If you’d like to announce or share this in your services or youth group this weekend, I’ve created a FREE DOWNLOADABLE PPT SLIDE that you can insert into your announcement loop. Simply [Click here] to download the zip file of the PPT and Keynote slides.

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Win a FREE TICKET to Orange!

Just recently we announced on This Week in Youth Ministry that we are giving away a FREE TICKET to the Orange Conference in Atlanta, GA! This conference ticket, valued at $349, will be given to one lucky leader on February 17, 2017! Go [here] to enter this giveaway.

This conference is designed for the entire family ministry team – for children’s pastors, youth pastors, college pastors, and more!  There is something for everyone.
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Click [here] to explore The Orange Conference – Check out the breakout sessions, see the lineup of Keynote speakers, plan your trip to Atlanta, and more!

Podcast Names Co-Host, Leneita Fix

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I’m stoked to announce that Leneita Fix, veteran youth worker and author, will be joining me on This Week in Youth Ministry Podcast for shows scheduled to be released in 2017. Leneita is a great friend and offers a solid voice in Youth Ministry and I felt she would be a perfect fit to join our conversations on the podcast.

Fix has appeared on This Week in Youth Ministry several times as a guest, and debuts as co-host Thursday, January, 26th. Be sure to check out this fresh, new episode with Terrace and Leneita as they interview Natasha McGill, from New Zealand, on the subject of Problem Solving in Youth Ministry.

Click [here] to listen to This Week online, or [here] to launch in iTunes.

Don’t Let #2017 Get Away With This …

I have a resolution for YOU and ME.
 
This year, 2017, let’s work to make our relationships better.
 
Seriously people.
 
We are SO lame sometimes when it comes to relationships.
 
It’s not that hard, people.
 
How many times has a friend or family member said “Hey, let’s talk soon?” Or “Let’s do lunch soon, k?”
 
And it never happens.
 
Good intentions, yes. But it doesn’t happen as much as it should.
 
It’s 2017 people.
 
We have phones (connected to our heads at all times!), the internet, vehicles, and SO many other means of getting us face to face with someone or ear to ear in mere seconds.
 
There is no excuse.
 
You are NOT that busy.
 
I’ve reached out to people on numerous occasions (sometimes for an ENTIRE YEAR) about talking with me. Did I say a YEAR? Yes.
 
And just today someone vented to me that they are weary of reaching out to someone who has told them several times over a 3 year period that “they’d like to get to know her.”
 
Did I say 3 years? Yes.
 
The busiest person I know (I’m talking the leader of a Company…family man… wears about 15 more hats than I do kinda guy…) gets back to me within 24 hours when I reach out to him. Every single time!
 
“Relationships are the most important thing to us,” we say.
 
Let that sink in for a moment.
 
What means the most to people on their death bed? Their relationships.
 
And we let dumb stuff and silly stuff come between us.
 
We grow apart.
 
We isolate ourselves from each other.
 
And yes, make lots of lame excuses.
 
If someone means something to you, let them know.
 
If it’s important to you, make time for it. Make time for them.
 
You are not that busy.
 
It can be done.
 
Don’t let 2017 divide us like 2016 (and so many years before) did.
 

What God Told Me About Donald Trump

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Less than 48 hours ago God spoke to me about Donald Trump.

Before I share this, let me just say, I know some people reading this don’t believe in God, some don’t understand how God speaks, and others will doubt that God said this [to me] at all … but it’s my experience, my testimony.  Just please honor this, if you would, and hear me out.

I’ve actually always had a hard time describing what it’s like when God speaks to you.

Even as pastor and Bible college graduate, I’ve had a hard time explaining the voice of God. But, I’ve always explained [the voice of God] this way to people: when you hear it, it’s undeniable.  It’s like hearing your mom or dad speak to you.  You KNOW their voice.

So, less than 48 hours ago I believe God said this to me:

Rally as many Christians world-wide, as possible, to pray for America. Pray for healing.  Pray for unity. Pray for Donald Trump and all newly elected leaders for 21 days.

Immediately I was humbled.

Anytime God speaks to you it should humble you.

Then I realized something remarkable.

Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the 20th day of January.  His first full day of his Presidency will be on the 21st day of the year.  There’s your 21 days.

So immediately I sprang into action.

I shared the word with a few close friends.

And then recruited them to help me get as many people to commit to prayer for the first 21 days of the year as possible.

If you want to join me for 21 days of consecutive prayer, to God, for America, and for our newly elected leaders please visit www.TwentyOneDays.org.

MinistryDownloads – BOGO Offer!

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BIG NEWS from MinistryDownloads.com.   We’re offering a BOGO Deal for the next 3 days!  You can BUY a Resource Bundle for yourself and then GIFT one to another friend\youth worker\church leader!  It’s been exciting today to see leaders gifting other pastors. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Hurry, this offer ends Wednesday, December 7th, at 11:59PM EST.
Go [here] to MinistryDownloads.com

New Site: MinistryDownloads.com

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I’m stoked to be able to announce that I have launched a brand-new resource site, MinistryDownloads.com!   I’ve always wanted to create a hub where I could share resources that I’ve created and curated for ministry and ministry leaders, and just a couple of days ago it became a reality!

The site debuts on #BlackFriday – just mere hours away – with an Epic Resource Bundle of resources (over $500 worth of resources actually!) available for ONLY $49!!!

The FIRST 10 people to purchase the bundle when it releases will receive an additional bonus (we’re giving away gift cards, additional downloads, and other prizes too!). Sign-up here, to be notified when the bundle releases… as it will be released at a super secret, undisclosed time on Friday, November 25, 2016!  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Voting Isn’t All That Matters Tomorrow

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On this final night before the Election (thank God!), I am so sad at
what shape our country is in after this election. I think the candidates
we have chosen reflect where we are at as a nation. It’s rather
pathetic. In fact, tonight on CBS News, Bob Schieffer said “It’s like
our country is under a curse, based on the candidates we have.”

Honestly, I hate the way elections go for us. We’ve been enduring this
cycle now for 2 years…and when you think about it, we are picking
a president at this point based on who smears their opponent better.

People have bought into this negative speak. I’ve tried to be careful
of what I’ve said, when I’ve said it, but I’ll admit it’s been difficult.
Some people have been down right cruel and I’ve had several people
say nasty things to me (personally). Which is quite ironic, considering
most of these same people are quick to call out Trump (for example)
on the nasty things that he has said. Hypocritical much?

So today I’ve thought about our election process. Weird, I know.

What would it have been like if we had nominees who shared their
policies a year out (2 years is too long, right?) and then spent the year
on a “Do Good” campaign … and after that year we compare what each
candidate did with their time & resources for one year (coupled with
their policies) and cast our vote then? Think of all the $$$ the candidates
raise & pour into negative ads alone? These dollars would be spent doing
good! Wow. What that year could do for our country would be AMAZING.

We really need to rethink our democracy.

With this said, VOTE. Get out tomorrow and VOTE.

I’m not voting for a candidate. I’m voting strictly on policy. Both
candidates are flawed (some people are still in denial about that),
so either way this election goes, as I see it, we still need to depend
on God’s guidance for our president-elect and the direction of our
country.

Voting tomorrow isn’t all that matters though.

As one of my friends put it today: “It matters more how I treat people
tomorrow than it does how I vote. It matters whether I love the unlovely,
respect those who disagree with me, help the helpless, honor my wife
and my kids, and act toward the person who cuts me off in traffic. That’s
how the world is changed. One loving act at a time.”

And tomorrow, regardless of how the election goes… let’s just agree to
move forward and be better (especially better to each other!) We need
each other and we need God.

May God have mercy on us. May he guide our country. May he keep
people from acting fool after tomorrow’s decision is made. And may
God bless America again.

4 Tips for Empowering Students to Serve

Every youth pastor has felt the pressure to have a high energy youth ministry program in their church, but if you really want the next generation to be actively involved you have to get them serving.

I appeared today on the Nick Blevins Family Ministry Podcast, and discussed my advocacy for empowering students to serve in ministry. You can listen to the entire interview [here] or on iTunes [here].

On the show I discussed a number of things, but I mention some keys to empowering teens to serving.  I’ll share 4 of these with you here, but you’ll have to listen to the podcast for the rest.

4 TIPS FOR EMPOWERING STUDENTS TO SERVE:

  1. Identify clear roles and needs and then provide clear paths for students to serve.
  2. Connect with other ministries and advocate for students serving.
  3. Consider setting up time parameters and seasons for serving positions.
  4. Partner with organizations to help students serve in the community.

I explain each of these in greater detail in my conversation with Nick Blevins. Listen to this episode, then comment here or Tweet me (@terracecrawford) with your feedback!