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Every student pastor I know wants to make sure their student ministry is helping teens get a grasp on what it means to serve the world and spread the message of Jesus. We talk about global issues throughout the year and a summer camp every year. We work to make sure and partner with the mission efforts of Grace Community Church with Operation Serve where we invest in our city. We give and we go. We want to be a ministry that takes action not just encourages great discussion. This is my first post in 10 days because a team from Relevant Student Ministry has been serving in New Orleans in a week we call SERVE New Orleans. In our third year with this partnership we experienced a great year and made a real impact…BUT…it took us several years to figure out how this was going to work. Here are some lessons we learned over the past three years about how to create a next level mission experience…

  • Partner with a local church // we tried doing a mission trip using a missions organization with multiple churches but it just did not fit our ministry. We needed to focus. We found that partnering with a local church that has relationships with the community and can continue the work started by the mission team the best route for our team.
  • Stay plugged into a region // Mission work is not tourism! Mission work is about making a difference and we have chosen to stay plugged in with one city, one church and 2 areas in that city. One week of the year we can promise families we will be there to invest in their part of the city. We have lives life with a few kids for three years now!
  • Do what you are good at // don’t try to go to a city and do things your team are not good at! Serve in a city and do what you are best at. At Grace Community we do children’s ministry well so when we go on mission trips we serve kids and families! Your church might be able to pull off a sports camp or do construction. Just do what you are good at.
  • Bigger is not better // our mission trip teams are made up of around 25 people. THAT IS IT! As the ministry grows we will add other teams going to other areas. The right size team makes sure every leader has a job on the team. Bigger just leads to more problems. Mission trip experiences are a time to invest in the lives of teens and work with them to invest in others. Bigger is not better.