Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Mission Trips Biblical?

The Gospel Coalition has just run a fantastic series contributing to the ongoing debate surrounding the effectiveness and biblical basis for short-term mission trips.  As youth groups everywhere spend their summers on trip after trip, often the crux of the youth ministry experience, it is important for us to examine this practice through a gospel lens.

Take a look and let us know - what do you think about youth short-term mission trips?

Celebrating the Short-Term Mission Boom

Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Mission Trip

Toward Better Short Term Missions

1 comment:

  1. It's been 8 months since this was posted though nobody actually responded and perhaps nobody will ever read this.

    Youth missions can be done well, but that hinges on the preparation for the trip including trip selection and how the students are prepped. I choose domestic missions trips that allow my students to share their faith. That means I don't choose trips described as "work camps". We've done trips that had us working with homeless folks, doing VBS and relational evangelism on US Indian reservations, rural ministry etc.

    Beyond that, I require my students to complete 8 2 1/2 hour training sessions beginning two months before the trip. We talk about what the gospel is and how to communicate it. Students are required to learn about a dozen verses that help in presenting a Biblical understanding of the gospel. They also are required to prepare a brief testimony and we practice sharing the testimony and the gospel with one another and in scenarios with church members who "pretend" to be non-believers. All of this gives our students a basis to understand the gospel in their own lives and it gives them experience in communicating their faith. We challenge each of our students to find people they can share their faith with while we are on the trip, but the evangelism training obviously transcends a week-long trip. We also stress that evangelism is to share the gospel well and leave the results to God (not coercing people to pray the prayer so that we can inflate numbers to our congregation and our ministry partners).

    As one senior shared last night in front of the congregation, "I've been on 6 trips and done training now 6 times and learning what the gospel is, and how to communicate it, has done so much in teaching me about what my faith really is."

    Financially these trips can be done for 15 people at around $7-10 thousand (total including all project cost, transporation, lodging, food, etc.)and it has a lasting impact in the communities we go to and in the lives of our students (a win-win).

    I have led one international trip to visit missionaries our church supports to assist them usefully in their ministry. The purpose of this trip was to help give four of my senior high students (all of whom had expressed an interest in pursuing full time missions after high school) the opportunity to have a taste of what missions is. I personally could never justify taking 15 high school kids across the world at $3000 a pop to hug little kids in an orphanage in Uganda for 3 days, and then spend 3 days "debriefing" on a safari and calling that a missions trip.

    I realize this is an old post, and I'm not even holding my breath that anybody would read this, but I would be curious to know other youth pastor's experiences with STM.