5 Reasons Every Teenager Should Go On a Mission Trip
What would you do if you discovered an incredible experience that opened eyes, softened hearts, empowered service and changed lives?
When a youth pastor saw how mission trips had drawn his students to others and toward Jesus, he asked himself that question. His answer was starting YouthWorks, an organization that now invites over 30,000 students and leaders on mission trips each summer.
For over 20 years, we have seen mission trips play a crucial role in the lives of countless teenagers, and we continue to believe every teenager should experience a mission trip.
1. Mission Trips Bring Youth Groups Together.
If you’ve ever been on a weekend student retreat, you know how that experience can build community. Teenagers ride together, play together, eat together, stay up late together, get up tired together… “Together” is a powerful word. Think of “together” as glue – the more broadly it’s spread, the better a youth group will bond. Mission trips apply “together” to students’ sense of adventure, their desire serve, their relationship with God, their daily experiences, their broken comfort zones and much more (including these things below!).
2. Mission Trips Broaden Perspectives.
Teenagers might be more connected than ever with what’s happening around the world, but have they seen what it’s like to live below the poverty line in small-town America? Or experienced the energy and exhaustion of inner-city living? Or felt the heartbeat of Native America beaten across the taut surface of a drum? Pulling teenagers from their typical context helps them understand that the world is larger that their daily lives would have them believe. By beginning to understand another setting, their own context comes into truer focus.
3. Mission Trips Challenge Comfort Zones.
Beyond broadening perspectives, mission trips demand that teenagers participate. Painting a house, playing with kids, serving a meal, sleeping on an air mattress, experiencing a new culture – these are a few examples of ways comfort zones are crossed. But when coupled with intentional processing and worship, mission trips have the unique ability to challenge students’ comfortable perceptions of God and the world. Faith steps beyond the doors of the church and demands to be applied to real-world living.
4. Mission Trips Empower Students.
God is doing incredible work through the Church. The energy, authenticity, fresh perspective and passion teenagers bring are a vibrant part of that church. Done well, mission trips help students take ownership and initiative. Eyes are opened. Passions are ignited. Possibilities are exposed. Pursuits begin. Mission trips help teenagers see what they are capable of. But first, the Church chooses to believe in the incredible opportunity of being a teenager – not a possibility to be met “someday,” but a boiling potential just waiting to overflow.
5. Mission Trips Create Sacred Space.
The Israelites used to build monuments by throwing together big piles of rocks to point at later and say, “That signifies God’s faithfulness in our nation.” For many teenagers, mission trips represent a time and a place when God worked in and through their lives. More than a mere mountain-top high, these sacred spaces both anchor students in their faith and propel them forward in their relationship with God. Even in times of trouble, teenagers often point toward their mission trip experience and say, “That signifies God’s faithfulness in my life.”
How YouthWorks Helps More Teenagers Go on Mission Trips
QUALITY EXPERIENCES – We want mission trips to be much more than something students are supposed to do. We want mission trips to be something students want to do. That’s why we put considerable time and resources into created excellent curriculum, hiring great staff, making meaningful connecting and choosing awesome activities within incredible communities. We care about teenagers, and we want them to love serving others as much as we do.
DETAILS – That’s right. At YouthWorks, we do details – the big ones, the small ones, the ones you might never know exist. We’ve got people who like words, people who like numbers, people who like maps, people who like brainstorming, people who like design, people who like hiring, people who like… well… love communities… and when you’re planning for your YouthWorks trip, we’re all working for you – because we also like you! And you do the most important job of all: walk alongside students. We do the details so you can invite, focus on and love teenagers.
CLOSE-TO-HOME LOCATIONS – With over 75 mission trip destinations across North America, there is bound to be one close to you. Taking teenagers on a mission trip doesn’t require crossing international boarders, and with YouthWorks, it might not even mean crossing state lines. We want mission trips to be attainable for teenagers, parents and youth workers.
AFFORDABLE OPTIONS– Many churches go with YouthWorks because they recognize a truly quality experience at an affordable price. We work hard to keep mission trip prices as low as possible because we don’t want finances to be any teenager’s excuse for staying home. Our average youth mission trip cost is $279 with options as low as $229. (Of course, family trips cost only $99 per person!)
SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITIES – When we hear about a specific student or church who is struggling to make it on a mission trip because of financial restraints, we do our best to work with them to find a solution. If your church needs any help financially or you have a specific student that needs help getting on a mission trip, connect with our Service Center.
RECRUITING RESOURCES – Sometimes it’s hard to communicate how important an experience could be for a teenager to attend. That’s why, each year, we create resources – like posters and videos and lists of good practices – to help youth leaders communicate with students about their upcoming trip. Ultimately it is parents and youth leaders who prompt teenagers to go on trips, so we want to help them do the best job possible.