This past weekend our student ministries went on our local missions trip in some nearby cities. We had a ton of jr. high and high school students give up their Memorial Day weekend (even some students give up going to their prom to serve), pretty incredible. It was such a great weekend. 3 days of different serve projects, night-time sessions and growing together. It is one of my favorite trips we do all year. When I got home I was thinking about the trip and had some thoughts on leading a mission trip with students.

Have open hands – If you have ever run a missions trip before, you know there is a ton of planning and hard work that go into the details before the trip even begins. When we get out to do those things, not everything goes as pretty as it looked on paper. Don’t grasp on to your plan with closed fists, have open hands. Be flexible. Something might happen to switch it up and instead of freaking out, relax. Sometimes God moves in some big ways even if we didn’t plan them. We don’t want to miss them because we were holding on to our plans too tightly.

It’s okay to be uncomfortable – Mission trips should be uncomfortable. We tell our students before we get to whatever site we’re going to be working at that it’s going to be uncomfortable at first. It’s okay, work past it. God shows up in our uncomfortableness because He uses those things to stretch us and grow us. Every time, students would rise to the occasion and they were glad they keep going even if it was awkward at first.

Have fun – It’s not all work and no play. Yes, we are there to serve and help our students learn what serving is all about, but we can have fun while doing it. I believe laughter breaks down walls. It allows us to be more vulnerable with each other and those we are serving. One of my favorite moments of the trip was when we got done with our work early so we took our van to Starbucks to reward them. Some of the best conversations of the trip were from our super casual but fun detour.

Be the example – Students follow us. We are the leaders of the trip, they will do what we do. If we are sitting back, they will naturally want to sit back as well. If you are getting your hands dirty, they will see it’s okay to do the same. When students would get a little uncomfortable on the trip and hover around me, I would say, “Come on, let’s go talk to that person together”. Or “Let’s go clean this thing together.” And they would be all in. Lead by leading them into service. Serve them by showing them how to serve others.

Ask Questions – Whenever you have a free moment, ask questions about what you just experienced. Ask about what they saw, what they felt, what happened, what did you like and dislike, where did you see God in all of this? The answers will be great.

I love being able to get to serve alongside students. Love when we try and go make an impact on others– and what it does is make an impact on us as well. It’s the best.

Have you ever done a local service-type trip? What did you do? Where did you go? Was it a success? Tell us about it below.