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.

5 Things That Reveal The Leader You Are

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People who are always quick to figure out the type of leader you are, especially if they are to follow you. There are a number of ways that reveal who you are as a leader without you saying a word.  Carey Nieuwhof recently posted an article about this,sharing these 5 different things. I will share 2 of them here with you and link you to the rest.

1. WHETHER YOU DELIVER ON YOUR PROMISES

You never need to open your mouth for your team to determine whether they can trust you.

Trust, after all, is confidence.

The best way to establish confidence as a leader is to do what you said you’re going to do when you said you’re going to do it.

The challenge, of course, is that’s much harder to do than it seems.

Be careful about what you promise.

Be even more careful about how you deliver. It is far better to under-promise and over-deliver than it is to offer assurances that mean nothing.

And if you mess up, own up. People respect that.

And then do everything in your power not to repeat the same mistake again.

2. WHETHER YOU TRULY VALUE YOUR FAMILY OR THEIR FAMILY

I was talking to a leader the other week who was trying to figure out how much time to take off when there was so much to do at his rapidly growing church.

As we discussed this, it occurred to me that how he valued his family would signal whether he wanted his staff to value their families.

Most team members want a senior leader to go home at night to see his family.

The late night, early morning and all weekend emails actually discourage your staff.  So do the seven day work weeks.

Even if you tell your staff “you take time off, I need to work,” they rarely feel secure in taking that time off.

Unfortunately, it took me years to learn that my working longer hours communicates to the team that it’s never safe for them to take time off.

How you value your family signals to your team whether you value their families.

[Click here] to read the rest of this article …
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If you want practical help overcoming some of the biggest challenges leaders face, get a copy of the new book Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That Nobody Expects and Everyone Experiences which tackles the seven core issues that take people out: cynicism, compromise, disconnectedness, irrelevance, pride, burnout, and the emptiness of success and provides strategies on how to combat each.

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: Dannah Gresh

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, Dannah Gresh.

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Dannah Gresh:

  • “There is no statistical difference between non-Christian women and Christian women who watched, read, and defend Fifty Shades of Grey.” @Dannahgresh 
  • “Today, families want to worship God in the way that fits them, not the way He wants to be worshiped.”  @Dannahgresh
  • “As pornography increases, sexual desires decrease.”  @Dannahgresh 
  • Lie #1  — We need to be “Normal” to be relevant.
  • “The truth is God wants us to stick out.”  @Dannahgresh
  • “We want to fit in, but we don’t want to be all in.” @Dannahgresh
  • “Teenagers do not want something more. They want something different.” @Dannahgresh
  •  Lie #2 — We can go without God.   
  • God’s presence is what we are missing.  ((See John 15:5))

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: Kyle Idleman

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, Kyle Idleman

Tweetable Quotes (and Highlights) from Kyle Idleman:

  • “Transparency has a tendency to be contagious.”
    @KyleIdleman
  • “Transparency is contagious. Transparency is what connects us. It will give you freedom you didn’t even know you needed.” @KyleIdleman
  • “We can have good intentions that never get lived out.”  @KyleIdleman 
  • Are you well intentioned without being intentional. In a year, will anything have changed? @KyleIdleman
  • “You will always harvest what you plant.”  @KyleIdleman
  • “You will sow what you reap. God has hard-wired this into the universe.”  @KyleIdleman
  • “We must take responsibility for the seeds that we have planted.”   @KyleIdleman 
  • “Being intentional is different from having good intentions.” @KyleIdleman

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 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.

 

5 Reasons to Start Planning Your 2019 Mission Today

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In the midst of a busy season of mission trips and youth camps for your students, it’s easy to get caught up in just keeping up with what’s going on. But taking a few minutes to think ahead could save your future self a ton of trouble. Getting a jumpstart on planning your mission trip for next summer will mean you might be breathing a little easier this time next year as the finals details fall into place more naturally. The team at Experience Mission have compiled a short list of the reasons why they recommend planning early for your 2019 Mission Trip.

1. More Time To Recruit for Your Team

When you have a longer window to let people know about your trip, you’re likely to get more students on board, as well as more adult chaperones. Adults will have ample time to plan their work schedule around the dates that you’ve selected, and parents can avoid scheduling vacations during mission trip week when they know in advance. Often times, word spreads slowly about the mission trips. It’s important to allow enough time for the excitement to build before deposits and registrations are due!

2.  More Time to Fundraise

Fundraising can be a daunting task for any group, especially when you have a tight deadline to stick to. By assembling your team and making plans early, you open up more opportunities throughout late summer and fall to do a few early fundraisers like car washes and fall festival activities that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to participate in. More time turns what could be an overwhelming goal into easy bite-size chunks throughout the year.

3. More Time to Prepare Your Students

For many students (and adults!), going on a mission trip is a very spiritually impactful experience. How much more effective could you be at reaching your students and building meaningful connections in the community if you had ample time to prepare everyone beforehand? By planning early, you have more than enough time to host several pre-trip trainings where you can explore what it means to serve cross-culturally and maybe even read a book together! These types of pre-trip activities are crucial for helping your students feel equipped for what they will experience when they go.

4. More Options for Locations and Dates

Many mission sites fill up early. By planning for your summer trip in the fall, you will have a wide selection of dates and locations available to choose from. There’s no need to for last-minute scrambles and frantic calls in the Spring, hoping there’s still space for your group. Lock in your dates early and enjoy the assurance that you have plans you can count on for next summer.

5. A Better Mission Trip Experience for Everyone

By planning early, you can take it slow, make intentional choices, and involve your students in the process. You have time to pick options, present them to your group, pray, and make decisions collectively. No need to make a last-minute decision when you realize registration deadlines are closing! You have the ability to help everyone going on next year’s trip to feel informed, prepared, and committed to the mission when you give them the time they need to be ready.

Ready to start planning for 2019?

Registrations are already open for all 25 communities where Experience Mission leads teams on short-term mission trips! Fill out an interest form today to find the right fit for you or talk through your options with one of EM’s mission trip support staff.