3 Conversations To Prepare Adult Leaders Before The Mission Trip

by James Davenport, Discipleship Coordinator

When leading a mission trip, I love finding out who is on their very first mission trip? And more often than not I discover there are as many first time adults as there are youth. One of the biggest obstacles for an impactful student mission trip is having experienced adult volunteers. Typically, adult volunteers sign up because vans need driven, youth need chaperones, and medical expertise is much appreciated. And as much as we would all love to have seasoned veterans of youth ministry join us on a mission trip, most likely your adult volunteers this summer are on their first mission trip!

Below are three conversations I encourage you to have with every adult leader BEFORE the mission trip, which I believe will profoundly alter the impact of your trip this summer.

 

THANK YOU

If you have yet to thank each adult volunteer who has willingly said “yes” to coming with you on the mission trip – STOP READING – go thank them right now!

For those of us in ministry, it is all too easy to forget that adult volunteers are most likely using their precious and limited vacation time to serve the needs of the youth and the church. They will sleep on hard floors not beds, they will shower in trailers or other such facilities that are most likely not as comfortable as their own, they will stay up later than preferred, and smell things they wish they never smelled. Yes, every adult volunteer is making a sacrifice, start every conversation with your volunteers with the words, “thank you”.

Be creative in how you do this: A hand-written note. A personalized prayer. A midweek cup of Starbucks. And if your adult volunteer is married or has a family, take the time to thank their spouse, their kids. Allow every family member – spouse and child – to hear your words of appreciation. A culture of thankfulness and of value towards one another builds an attractive movement others will want to join.

 

DISCIPLESHIP IS RELATIONSHIP

A week-long mission trip is around 150 hours. That is a lot of time! Take a moment and add up how many hours you typically have throughout the year with any of your students? If you have the traditional 90-minute youth meeting every week that only adds up to 78 cumulative hours (and that is assuming your students show up every week!). Here is my point, a one-week mission trip more than doubles your time with your students in any given year.

Mission trips offer you an incredibly profound discipleship window. The question remains, what is your plan? In my experience, the one thing that moves the mission trip from a mere mountain top experience to lasting life change is meaningful relationships with mentors.

While there is great importance in informing your adult volunteers of the details, make the effort to move from informing to equipping. For example, as you inform your adult volunteers about the daily schedule, expend even greater energy equipping them how to find those teachable moments within the schedule to connect with students. Provide insight and testimonies, give tangible tools, and ultimately offer vision for why this is a game-changer! Over the past decade, research consistently reveals the number one influencer to students’ faith was meaningful, Christ-centered mentors. Challenge your adult volunteers to intentionally have at least one meaningful conversation with a student every day of the trip.

 

YOU REPRODUCE WHAT YOU ARE

Ostriches do not reproduce giraffes any more a wallaby can reproduce a jellyfish. The truth is you can only reproduce what you are. And if you are in the business of reproducing disciples (which I trust that you are!) than it is profoundly essential that you and your adult leaders possess a faith that is worth reproducing. Students will mirror their own faith by what they see and witness in you and the adult volunteers.

Offer your adult leaders a pre-trip devotional guide, a list of Scriptural based prayers to be prayed over the students, a selection of verses to memorize as an encouragement for their own soul, etc. The spiritual health of your adult volunteers will largely dictate the spiritual health and impact of your students on the mission trip. Help your adult volunteers grow in their own passion for Christ and give them the necessary on-ramps by which they can be energized in their faith this summer.

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Here at Next Step we are incredibly grateful for every student, youth leader, and adult volunteer who will join us this summer. We are praying for you, asking the Lord to stir your affections to greater heights and depths in your love of Christ! We are for you!

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