Best Reasons to Serve on a Next Step Summer

By Brian Ledtke, Internship Director

The heat is immense. The couple of overworked air conditioners in our church in the Bahamas are spitting out a warm breeze and we’re all still sweating from the day’s hard work. I’m smelly, a fly buzzes around my face, and sweat runs down my arm as I try to strum my guitar while our worship band leads It Is Well. And yet, despite the physical discomfort, I look around and every eye is shut, hands are raised, faces are gleaming with sweat, but everyone is lost in the worship of our Savior.

It is absolutely beautiful. 

It is moments like this that I will never forget. 

I’ve spent two summers with Next Step as a worship leader in both Jamaica and the Bahamas and I could regale you with hours of stories of how God worked in amazing ways. Every person who has interned with Next Step could do the same and everyone’s stories would be different. 

But what are some of the best reasons to spend your summer serving for 10 weeks on the mission field? If you’re on the fence about doing it, I would love to tell you some of the best parts about serving with Next Step, but I’ll also bring in a few friends who have also spent a summer (or many summers) with Next Step to tell you why you most definitely should. 

Kinsey Tucker: The best part about serving on summer staff is being welcomed into a new community and learning about the strengths of it. You become a local for 10 weeks, enjoying the best local restaurants and becoming a part of an awesome church community. 

Andrew Colby: Serving with Next Step gets you great work experience and gives you a chance to step away from everyday life and be able to focus on your journey with Christ. You also create lifelong friends and gain a support system no matter how far away you are from the rest of your team after the summer is over.

Marissa Martinie: There are many; you get to be a role model for youth, have eye-opening experiences, learn about and love another community, learn new skills you never thought you needed, meet people from across the country, and grow in leadership, collaboration, and faith. 

Brady Westlake: 

  • First, Next Step brings people together. My summers gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over with different life experiences and backgrounds. The people I served with on Next Step trips are still some of my best friends to this day. After a Next Step summer, you come home with 100 new best friends from all over the country! 
  • Second, you and your team have to get creative in numerous ways! I think the best example of this is the food. Once we get tired of eating the same thing every week, everyone starts to get creative with the menu. I remember using ingredients from our menu to make quesadilla concoctions and garlic butter noodles. 
  • Last, one of the best parts is getting to travel all around and experience a new place with your friends. Whether learning about a different culture or getting to experience nature in a new and exciting way, the travel experience always brings me closer to Jesus in more ways than one. 

Jessica Dunn:

  • Ongoing opportunities. Serving with Next Step for the summer opened the door for relationships and opportunities to build with communities all over the place! After my summer with Next Step, I got to go on other off season trips, speak at a youth lock in, help train other interns, write blogs and devo stories, and get my friends connected to share their stories too. You may be surprised what opportunities might come from one summer!
  • Inside Jokes! It has been years since my first summer with Next Step and I still laugh when I think about some of the memories and inside jokes that happened that summer. They may be some of the “you had to be there” type moments that no one around me understands — but I still get a good kick out of them! 
  • New Perspectives. I thought I was passionate about serving people before this summer…but working alongside Next Step has given me a broader perspective on how to truly care for a community and come alongside others in community development.
  • Learn New Skills. You will get put in situations that will allow you to learn something you never knew before. You may get to step into the kitchen to help the cook, help fix sound equipment or run slides, or even get to help on the construction site. In these situations, you will fine tune skills you never thought you had! 
  • Impact the lives of youth. You will meet so many incredible students who want to change the world. You will play such a unique part in their story as they leave their homes to serve, too!
  • Deeper understanding of who God is and how He loves you. When you step out of your comfort zone and give up your time and ability to serve others, God will show up in incredible ways! He wants to show you who He is and how much He loves having you as part of His team! 

These examples from Kinsey, Andrew, Marissa, Brady, and Jessica are all excellent! One of my favorite parts of serving is that it is following the path less traveled; the path that Christ laid out before each of us. It can be dangerous, you can get tired, hungry, cranky, and sore but once you’ve reached your end goal you look back and realize all those hard and difficult moments were so worth it. 

It’s all about the journey. 

God created us to do the seemingly impossible (ex: leading 10 weeks of mission trips!), because it is through the seemingly impossible that God makes everything possible. He doesn’t want us to play life safe, He wants us out in the world getting scraped and bruised, but never relenting in our love for others and for God. He created us for so much more than the safe life.

Sure, you may get discouraged and miss the comforts of home, but in those moments God will remind you that taking the road less traveled is exactly where He wants you to be — and there’s no better place than being exactly where God wants you. 

If you’d like to learn more, or apply, head over to

Next Step Ministries