I believe in the power of a great mission trip to inspire teenagers to serve the poor, reach the lost and do some good. Over the years I have seen the impact mission trips have on teenagers, including my 15 year old son, both emotionally and spiritually. Just getting an affluenct (compared-to-most-of-the-world) American teenager in the grit and grime of an underdeveloped country is often enough to change his/her perspective for a life time.
While I believe in the power of a mission trip to impact a teenager I am also convinced that youth ministry needs a better kind of mission trip for the investment. Every summer, millions of dollars are raised for mission trip type endeavors. And I fully believe that many (if not most) mission trips fail to make a maximum impact, both on the teenagers and they people they are serving.Here are the questions that have brought me to this conclusion:
- What is the real long-term impact of mission trips, both on the teenagers themselves and those they are serving? If they're just building a building or painting a wall, then the impact of that trip may fade with the paint.
- If evangelism is not core to the mission trip, then what long-term difference is that trip really making? If we really believe that the gospel is central to transforming a life, a community and a country (Romans 1:16), then why wouldn't we put it right smack in the middle of our mission trip efforts?
- As my friend Brian Aaby has often asked youth leaders, is that one week you take your teenagers on a mission trip really equipping them to live a life on mission for the rest of the 51 weeks of the year? (By the way, Brian has developed some excellent resources to help them do just that!)
The best brand of mission trip can give people both bread to eat and the "Bread of Life" to transform (John 6:35.). It puts in water wells and gives people the Living Water (John 4:14.) It builds the homeless a house on earth and one in heaven (John 14:2,3.)
And I believe the best of the best mission trips prepare teenagers to live a life on misison for the gospel. It enables them to see their peers on a whole new light. It breaks their hearts for the poor of their city and the bad, the broken and the bulllied at their schools.
The best mission trips equip teenagers to see their lives as a mission trip!
And this is exactly what Lead THE Cause has developed into over the last 5 years. It's a week-long, in-country mission trip strategically designed to impact a city with the gospel while equipping teenagers to live on mission for the rest of their lives. Teens leave with a plan to pray for others with passion (intercessory prayer for the lost), pursue others with love (serving the hurting and loving the lost) and persuade with the truth of the gospel.
One youth group from Katy, Texas used Lead THE Cause for their mission trip week and were forever transformed in how they do and view mission trips. Check out this powerful story:
See more stories like this one here.
Teenagers who experience Lead THE Cause leave ready to live a life on mission for the gospel the other 51 weeks of the year. But they also leave fully equipped to engage in other kinds of mission trips.
They'll no longer be satisfied just painting a wall, building a building or digging a well. Yes, they'll do all that on their future mission trips PLUS share the gospel to the lost and train those that are Christians how to share their faith. Why? Because they've been given the tools, resources and training at Lead THE Cause to make the gospel central to everything they do!
Next summer we will be holding these "mission trips designed to help your teens live a life on mission" in 4 cities: Denver, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas. Our goal is to leave these cities changed by the power of the Gospel and prepare the participating youth groups to change their cities when they get back home.
If you're a youth leader who is in the habit of taking your teens on an annual mission trip, take a look at Lead THE Cause. It's the best of an in-country mission trip experience and a transformational equipping event.
You'll never look at a mission trip the same again and you, like your participating teenagers, will "gospelize" every mission trip you ever go on afterwards!