By Dale Lusk
Mission trips are often a major part of the student development plan in many churches. I think that is great! I’m all for it.
Unfortunately, many of us as youth pastors might be missing out on what probably is the most important student development element of a mission trip. All of the preparation meetings are super important. The team building, ministry preparation, language learning, prayer, cultural sensitivity training, and more, are necessary and make the trip worthwhile for the hosts.
Of course the cross-cultural relationships built during the trip, as well as the serving, the learning, allowing God to utilize your student’s skills, putting others before yourself, etc. All are so important to the encouragement of the local ministries and enhancement of what they are doing in their communities.
And yes, the debriefing times during a trip are important, as students are wrestling with all of the input they receive each day during a trip that sometimes blows their minds. Then we often return home from a mission trip and quickly move on to the next thing thereby missing an incredible opportunity.
I remember the spring youth mission trips I ran when I was young. We spent months preparing for the trip, hours debriefing during the trip, but as soon as we got home all of my energy went into the next things I had planned (graduation events, summer planning, camps, etc.). This got me thinking – I totally missed out on a great opportunity.
With that being said: What do you think?
Do we really think students (or anyone, for that matter) are truly able to grasp what they learned on a mission trip DURING the mission trip. Wouldn’t it make more sense to work through those issues more in depth AFTER the trip?