Where Should You Go on Your Mission Trip?

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So you’ve decided to go on a mission trip! This is an exciting time of gathering ideas and interest from your students, but it can be overwhelming when you have the entire world to choose from. While this decision should be made with input from your church and students, as well as a tremendous amount of prayer, we think there are some questions that can help you narrow down what’s possible for your group. These four questions can help you narrow down where in the world you should go on a mission trip, but don’t be afraid to speak with a reputable mission trip organization for more input!

1. How far will you go?

For every group, there are some practical limitations to consider. This question can help you narrow in on a location or region. There are a few factors that go into answering this question including budget, time constraints, and desire to engage with language and cultural barriers. Generally speaking, the further you go, the more apparent some of these things may be, but none of these are insurmountable barriers! If you feel led to serve far beyond your borders, just know it’s going to take a little more time to plan.

2. What are your hopes for your trip?

There are a variety of mission trip opportunities that all offer unique value, both for your students and the community you are serving in. Taking stock of what you hope to do on the trip can narrow down some locations. If your group is handy and ready to jump into construction projects, hurricane relief mission trips or other construction-based trips are an incredible way to use and develop your skills. Not as prepared for physical labor? Urban mission trips provide great opportunities for relational ministry that can be incredibly impactful for everyone involved.

Are you hoping to engage in what’s happening in the headlines? Or embrace struggles happening in quiet corners of the world? There’s value in both, but we encourage you to look into options beyond what’s in front of your face. There’s value in returning to a community on the long-term path to restoration and there’s beauty in showing up in the wake of disaster. Reflection on what this should look like for your group can steer your decision in a healthy direction.

3. What do you hope your students take away?

Every mission trip should first and foremost be a positive experience for the host community, but the reality is, mission trips are also an incredible way to grow spiritually and develop leaders among your youth. So, knowing your students and what you hope they gain from an experience can provide helpful direction for your trip as well. Students often walk away from trips with a greater understanding and appreciation for new people and cultures, greater leadership abilities, and a deeper faith in the God who created and watches over all of us. While these can be fostered during in a variety of serving experiences, consider how exactly you hope your students will grow and make sure your mission trip selection will allow those experiences to take shape.

4. What happens after the trip is over?

No matter where you choose to go, consider the impact your trip can have on the big picture, rather than just focusing on what your team might accomplish alone in the short span of a week. Partnering with a community or organization over a longer period of time or going somewhere where long-term relationships are already in place will allow you to get the most out of your experience. If you’re feeling called to help in the wake of natural disasters, pray about your options and consider looking beyond what’s currently in the headlines. Places like Texas or Puerto Rico, where disaster struck a year or so back, are still in terrible need and are already almost completely forgotten. Rebuilding after disasters often takes years, even if we only hear about the efforts for a matter of months.

Need help figuring out where to serve in 2019? Speak with a mission trip support representative from Experience Mission today. Call 888-475-6414 ext. 1 or fill out a mission trip interest form.

LIVE from D6: John Stonestreet

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing my notes with you from the General Session and keynote speaker, John Stonestreet.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from John Stonestreet:

  • The age-old question we have always asked … “Where do we draw line?”  @JBstonestreet “What is our salvation for?”  
  • “If we only react to culture we won’t have the end in mind for discipleship of our kids. We need to be proactive.”   @JBStonestreet 
  • “When we are trying to raise kids in this culture we need to know what we’re after.”  @JBStonestreet  You cannot escape culture.
  • “We are not saved for ESCAPE.”  @JBStonestreetChristianity is not an escapist religion
  • “You can’t escape culture, culture is the water in which we swim.”  @JBStonestreet 
  • “The God of the Bible does not usually yank people out of trouble but rather walks with them through it.”  @JBStonestreet  2 Corinthians 5:18-19ff
  • “There is no such thing as being on the wrong side of history, there is only being on the wrong side of right.”  @JBStonestreet
  • “You cannot understand the story from the moment, you an only understand the moment from the story.”  @JBStonestreet 

If you’re not at the D6 Conference, please follow along on social media using the hashtag #D62018 or my personal twitter, @TerraceCrawford.

LIVE from D6: Robby Gallaty

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing my notes with you from the General Session and keynote speaker, Robby Gallaty.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Robby Gallaty:

  • “God works the best in our waiting.”  @Rgallaty  “FAITH — faithful, available, intentional, teachable, hungry”  @Rgallaty 
  • “For years we have taught people how to share their faith but we have failed to teach them how to share their life.”  @Rgallaty 
  • “Game changer in your ministry:  Baptism can’t be the finish line, Baptism should be the starting line.”  @Rgallaty 
  • “We tell people what they have been saved FROM but we have failed to tell them what they have been saved FOR.”  @Rgallaty 
  • “We have created generations of spiritual infants in the church.”  @Rgallaty 
  • “What would change in your ministry if you realized you had 3 years left to serve?” @Rgallaty 
  • “What is going to last for eternity is the lasting impact we make on the people who outlive us.” @Rgallaty 

If you’re not at the D6 Conference, please follow along on social media using the hashtag #D62018 or my personal twitter, @TerraceCrawford.

LIVE from D6: Edward E Moody Jr

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing my notes with you from the General Session and keynote speaker, Edward Moody, Jr.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Edward Moody, Jr:

  • “Everyone needs to know and be willing to perform emotional first aid.”  @EdwardEMoodyJr 
  • “1 out of every 4 adults will struggle with a mental health or substance abuse problem at some point in their lives.”  @EdwardEMoodyJr 
  • “Hurting people are going to come to us. The question is, “Will we be ready?”  @EdwardEMoodyJr
  • “Every chance you can pray with people who are hurting, pray out loud and by name.”  @EdwardEMoodyJr
  • “It’s key that people are part of a church where they have real relationships.”  @EdwardEMoodyJr

If you’re not at the D6 Conference, please follow along on social media using the hashtag #D62018 or my personal twitter, @TerraceCrawford.

LIVE from D6: Lee Strobel

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing my notes with you from the General Session and keynote speaker, Lee Strobel.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Lee Strobel:

  • “There is a virus of DOUBT infecting our young people today.”  @LeeStrobel 
  • “62% of Millennials believe that God exists.”  @LeeStrobel 
  • “Teenagers are twice as likely today to claim that they are athiest.”  @LeeStrobel 
  • “We’ve never seen such a concerted effort by athiest to deconvert Christians than ever before.” @LeeStrobel 
  • “The #1 reason young people are citing for leaving the church today is DOUBT.” @LeeStrobel   
  • “We MUST let young people know that it is okay to ask questions.”  @LeeStrobel 
  • “If we don’t help young people get answers someone else will.” @LeeStrobel 
  • “We need to give our kids the confidence that we have the truth.” @LeeStrobel 
  • “We need to create safe places for students to ask their questions.” @LeeStrobel  500 churches in Chicago are soon banding together to look at the greatest objections to the faith. There is great power in this!
  • “So many people are just 1 or 2 sticking points away from making a decision for Christ.”  @LeeStrobel  Don’t forget this scripture … 1 Peter 3:15

If you’re not at the D6 Conference, please follow along on social media using the hashtag #D62018 or my personal twitter, @TerraceCrawford.

LIVE from D6: Rob Rienow

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing my notes with you from the General Session and keynote speaker, Rob Rienow.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Rob Rienow:

  • “I was passionate at church but not at home.”  @VisionaryFamDeut 6:5
  • “The Great Commission begins at home.”  @VisionaryFam 
  • “Family worship is the engine that powers the Christian family.”  @VisionaryFam 
  • “We’ve got Christian families who are well fed but starving spiritually.”  @VisionaryFam 
  • “There is a program that every church needs to run… its Family Worship in every home.” @VisionaryFam Eph 4:12
  • “Family ministry is about equipping at home for Gospel impact.”  @VisionaryFam 
  • “We have to first worship in our homes and then spread it everywhere else!”  – Johan, Age 10, Bangalore India
  • “The church is doing more than ever before to reach kids.  But we have taken our foot off the family pedal.” @VisionaryFam 

If you’re not at the D6 Conference, please follow along on social media using the hashtag #D62018 or my personal twitter, @TerraceCrawford.

 

LIVE from D6 with Greg Stier

I’m LIVE blogging from the D6 Conference in Greensboro (NC).  Today I’m sharing a Podcast recorded LIVE from the D6 Conference!  

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from the description: This Week in Youth Ministry – Episode 132 – ★ LIVE From D6 with Greg Stier  Terrace Crawford is LIVE at the D6 Conference and talks with Greg Stier, founder of Dare2Share Ministries about what makes Thriving Youth Groups!  Plus+ Terrace talks with Richard Ross, Ron Hunter, and More!

Join 4,300+ other youth workers and listen to episodes weekly [here] on the podcast site, or click [here] to access iTunes!

How to Engage Social Media on Your Mission Trip

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Thousands of people embark on short-term mission trips around the world every year. And, along with mission trips, come the inevitable social media posts about the trips. You know the ones I’m talking about—dramatic before and after photos of construction projects, selfies with children in tattered clothes, and intimate glimpses into broken situations around the world. Unfortunately, these posts often send the wrong message about the heart behind the trip. Surely there was more depth to the experience than what these posts seem to convey!

As we seek to follow Jesus into a life of service to others, the life we’re called to is contrary to the self-promotional “default mode” of social media. To serve and dignify the people we engage with means humbling ourselves and going beyond the “hero” mindset. The first step is to be intentional in the stories we tell.

1. Tell The Whole Story

When posting on social media during a mission trip, it can be tempting to only share what we ourselves are doing. But, it’s important to be intentional about how we position ourselves in the story. Instead of just sharing about the food we distributed or the building we painted, let’s talk about the big picture, like the ongoing work our ministry partners accomplish day in and day out. This way, we remove the spotlight from ourselves and celebrate those who have dedicated their lives to serving in their community.

2. Connect With Local People

We often have a false picture that people in developing communities don’t have access to technology. In reality, most of the people we encounter have a Facebook page as well as other social media platforms. Let’s leverage this opportunity to build deeper connections with local people or stay in touch after the trip. Talk about local people in the way you would talk about a friend. Don’t exaggerate or diminish the work they are doing in life, but seek to frame them in the best possible light.

3. Be Fully Present

It’s tempting to hide behind a screen. We want to remember the connections we made and share our experiences with friends and family, especially those who supported our trip. But this mentality often holds us back from being fully present and could unintentionally send the wrong message to local people. It’s important to remember we are guests in someone else’s home. Let’s get to know local people, see what their community actually has to offer, and take photos only sparingly. We might miss out on a few photo opportunities, but we’ll experience a whole new depth to our encounters and might actually forge lasting, meaningful relationships.

4. Remember the Mission

With everything we do, we want to keep the mission of our trip at the center. We go to humbly serve, to learn from others, to dignify them, and to empower local ministries. It would be incredibly sad if we let social media hinder these goals. It can be tempting to exaggerate the work we do through photos, videos, and stories aimed at pleasing donors or seeming impressive to friends and church members, but ultimately we have the opportunity to engage in a really important conversation about the way we are called to serve others. Which involves caring first and foremost about the people right in front of us, their dignity, and the hope and love we’re striving to share.

Excited to serve in 2019? Join Experience Mission in one of 25 communities on a short-term mission trip! Fill out an interest form today to find the right fit for you and your youth group.

 

Who Needs Compassion?

WHO DO YOU NEED TO SHOW COMPASSION TO? This week my world was rocked by the suicide of a young church leader. You just never know what someone is going through. God has poured in more compassion and asked me who I should show compassion to? So I thought I’d ask YOU the same question… WHO DO YOU KNOW THAT NEEDS COMPASSION RIGHT NOW? There is somebody who needs it.

• Who have you ridden off because of an offense?
• Who irritates you or drives you crazy?
• Who have you ignored?
• Who have you abandoned?

Give them your time, your understanding and your compassion today. You never know what might happen. 

How to Get Your Teens Out of Boredom (and On Mission)

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Does this youth group rundown look familiar to you?

  1. Show up.
  2. Give students some time to socialize.
  3. Get the energy moving with a game.
  4. Reel them back in with worship songs.
  5. Encourage them with a message.
  6. Send them off and repeat the following week.

This familiar pattern sometimes seems like the only way to do ministry—either because of our own experiences from growing up in church or from what we see other leaders modeling in their youth groups.

The harsh reality, though, is that in many respects, we’re boring our teens and draining their passion for God. Sure, they may be engaged for a time. But because we’ve conditioned them to come to group thinking it’s all about them and what they can get out of youth group, we’re starting from the wrong premise. No wonder they’re soon spiritually apathetic.

Teens need an outlet to grow and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. They need a mission that will put them in the driver’s seat of their faith, hand them the keys, and encourage them to drive out on the streets. A mission to exercise all the spiritual truths they are learning at youth group out in the real world.

The Great Commission is the very mission that gives meaning and purpose to our faith beyond just believing that Jesus exists. It gives your teens the incredible honor and privilege of participating in a 2,000-year-old mission of bringing the gospel to the lost, hurt, and broken of the world.

Honestly, is there anything more exciting than that?!

Preparing for the Mission

It can feel a bit daunting to just jump in and start tweaking your weekly rundown, so here are some ideas to set you up for success:

  • Spend some time in prayer.
    • Seek wisdom on how to best introduce the Great Commission to your teens. Ask God to prepare your students’ hearts to receive His command—especially those with spiritual apathy. Ask Him where in your community or elsewhere He wants to use your ministry to further His Kingdom.
  • Explain Jesus’ mission.
    • Help your students understand that the command to share the gospel wasn’t just given to the original disciples 2,000 years ago. It’s a command and a privilege for all disciples, including your teens, to take part in as followers of Christ.
  • Invite your teens to obey Jesus’ mission.
    • When Jesus gave the Great Commission to His disciples, He didn’t mean it as a suggestion. He was giving all believers a command to follow. Challenge and encourage your teens with opportunities to exercise their faith and actually go out on mission together.
  • Equip your teens for this mission.
    • Before you commission your teens, train them in ways to share their faith. Show them how to navigate the unpredictable and sometimes terrifying terrain of gospel conversations—including how to bring the gospel up, listen to the other person, ask good questions, and give an invitation to salvation.
    • Quick tip: One easy way to help students gain confidence in sharing the gospel is to give them time during youth group to practice gospel conversations with each other.

As you brainstorm ways to get your students living out the Great Commission, don’t feel like every lesson or event you do needs to be an original idea. Utilize resources like the “4 Chair Discipling” book from Sonlife, or Dare 2 Share’s “Life in 6 Words” curriculum to teach your students how to share the gospel with their friends.

A great event idea to jumpstart the mission-oriented mindset in your students is Dare 2 Share LIVE, happening on October 13, 2018. All you and your teens have to do is show up at a LIVE satellite site near you to experience an incredible day of evangelism training and sharing the gospel in your own community!

A Mission to Last a Lifetime

The best thing about giving your teens a mission for their faith is that it isn’t just a one-time idea for youth group. It’s a continuous way of doing ministry that invites your teens out of spiritual apathy and self-absorption and into a deeper relationship with Christ for the rest of their lives.

Because at the end of the day, all we want in youth ministry is to see our students know Jesus, passionately follow Him, and share the news of His love and saving grace with others. Let’s not wait another minute to invite our teens out of boredom and into the greatest adventure of their lives!