Picking the Right Trip: A Lot Like Clothes Shopping?

Not all mission trips are created equal. Not all youth groups are the same. Picking the right trip for your group is a lot like finding the perfect pair of jeans (bear with me, guys). You may have to try on a dozen pairs before finding the one that fits. And if you just jump on board the first trip you find, you’re probably going to be the person at the party in the acid washed overalls–frustrated, shunned, and upset with yourself.
Okay, enough with the shopping metaphors.
The best strategy for finding the right mission trip for your group is to pick an organization that you trust, talk with them about the discipleship experience you can expect, and figure out the specific needs and spiritual maturity of your group.
If you’re trying to find a good organization to travel with, ask around. Check with mentors, other youth leaders, or the missions team at your church. Figure out which organization you can rely on and don’t worry only about the budget (even though that’s important, too).
The most critical part of a trip isn’t what your group will do, but what the trip will do for your group.
Don’t just assume there will be a “spiritual element” to the trip that the leaders sort out for you after you arrive. Ask questions and find out what the organization’s overall mission is as well as the focus of that particular trip.
Discipleship opportunities don’t always just happen. Maximizing what your group will get from a trip means covering it in advance with prayer, preparation (both heart and head), and planning.
Most organizations have different levels or types of trips (here’s a full list of AIM’s mission trip levels). Before you pick one, be honest and realistic regarding where your students are spiritually and in overall maturity. If they’re not ready to do one-on-one evangelism, that’s okay, just select a trip that’s geared towards physical acts of service.
With missions, you don’t have to go big or go home. Just go.
The first time Jesus sent out his disciples to minister (Matthew 10), he specifically told them to stick with the people and areas they knew best. He even told them exactly what to say. Baby steps are okay. You want to challenge your youth without weighing them down under unrealistic expectations. If that means scaling back what you might want and doing what’s best for the group, then so be it. At the same time, don’t be afraid of a challenge. If you’re group is ready for something bigger, help make it happen.

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