rebelling against low expectations

Should teens go on mission trips?


CASSIE WRITES: I have a friend who has raised some concerns over teens going on mission trips.

First, she points out that many teens go on mission trips seeking a ‘spiritual high,’ and when they get back, away from the spiritually intense environment, they don’t know how to be consistent in their daily walk. They don’t realize that the Christian journey is not all ‘highs,’ which can yield a net negative result.

Second, teens are eager to go on mission where they can serve God, without realizing that serving God starts at home and right where God has placed them in day-to-day life. They’re willing to serve God overseas, but not at home.

Third, the financial aspect. Is it really a wise use of money to spend a few thousand dollars to send a teen overseas for a few weeks, when the same amount can sponsor a native missionary for a much longer period of time?

What do you guys think? What are some pros and cons for teens going on mission trips? If you’ve been on one, why did you go, and do you think it was worth it?

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  • I’ve been on a missions trip, and I thought it was worth it. I think that as long as you’re doing it with the right heart attitude and you feel that God is prodding you in that direction, by all means do it!

  • From the concerns mentioned in the question, it seems that the issue is not so much whether teens should go on mission trips as much as what should be the attitude of teens toward mission trips. But they are indeed legitimate concerns to which I hadn’t before given too much thought.

    For concern number 1, think about Christ before He began His ministry. He went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days (Luke 4). Talk about a “spiritually intense” time!

    Concern number 2 is also a legitimate concern, but is again not an issue of simply going on a mission trip; it’s an issue of the heart. And again, Jesus’s example displays that it’s quite possible to go away and still keep the right day-to-day mindset.

    As far as concern number 3, it really depends on the person. Sometimes teens find their God-given ministry while on a mission trip, and it turns into something big. Was it worth their going? Absolutely! For others, maybe not.

    I wouldn’t say everyone should go on a mission trip (I never have), so it depends on the person. Is it wrong for teens to go on mission trips? No. Should teens go on mission trips? That takes a lot of prayerful consideration for each person. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts.

    • This is literally what I was thinking! It’s sad that a lot of teens go for the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t mean that teens should NEVER go on mission trips. You’re totally right, it’s a question of attitude. πŸ™‚ Awesome comment!

  • Be sure that you go on the mission trip to truly serve–not just for the admittedly amazing experience of traveling and seeing a new place. I have a missionary kid friend who takes a rather cynical view of mission trips because (often, not always) they create a giant logistical headache for the hosting missionaries, and the students who come just don’t work very hard.
    She tends to point out your third concern–spend that money in the more effective way!
    However, a well run mission trip can both accomplish a big short-term project for missionaries and teach teenagers about missions.
    Whether a teen should go? I don’t have enough experience to give any good guidelines on what trips are worth the investment. But if someone does decide to go, they should go to serve, not just experience. Going overseas when you’re not serving at home is missing the point.

  • I wouldn’t say that teens shouldn’t go on mission trips,but what I would say is that if you do go on a mission trip make sure that you are their to serve. Matthew 20:28 says this, “Just as the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If you do go on a mission trip make sure that your heart is in the right place, and that you are their to serve others!

    • Your so right Emma, and i think most people forget that and think their just on a vacation!! good point!!

  • Hey Cassie!! i totally understand were your coming from. I think teens should go on mission trips, because it grows and changes them, and also God can do a lot of work in them by helping others. i’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip because i have a heart for the less fortunate i have a heart to bring light to the world. i want to shine God’s light. But i guess what you saying is that teens go their because they want that mountaintop experience but we can’t stay on the mountaintop the real change happens in the valley. i’ve experienced that and it’s hard coming down from the mountain because you felt so near to God and everything seemed perfect but we can’t live on the mountain and i think that’s what teens don’t get is that we have to use the things that we’ve learned on the mountain in the valley, we have to take the tools we’ve been given into the real world. and i’m not saying going on a mission trip isn’t the real world but, i’m saying taking those things into every day life.

    But i don’t think it’s right to force a teen to go if they don’t want to or don’t even believe or care about God. Because it waste’s so much money. But God can turn their belief around and bring that teen to Him. I think there’s a fine line.

    But i also know that my heart yerns to go on a mission trip. Not only to help third world countries but to use my gift that God has given me to bring others to Christ and to show them who he is. Because i believe dance can say so much more then words ever can and if i can find a way to bring dance to third world countries then i will. It’s a dream of mine.

    Anyway i feel like i’ve ranted πŸ™ i hope this helps you at least a little Cassie thank you for posting your question!!
    God Bless,

    • “We have to use the things we learn on the mountain in the valley” – so very, very true! Thank you Madeleine Grace!

  • I believe teens should go on mission trips. We are the generation that will help God shape our lives. I went on mission trip and we taught bible stories to kids and helped wherever we could.God might have used us to share the love of Christ to them. My pastor always tells us,”You might be the only Bible they ever see.”

  • I’ve been on a few mission trips, all of which were national so far, but I’m going with my family and a few others from my church to Mexico this summer. This is the first time for me to be going to another country, but I feel certain that I won’t regret it. I’ve very much enjoyed spending time with and learning from the others in my church in previous years, and I know this time won’t be too different from those times.
    You said something, Cassie, about after coming home and feeling inconsistent in one’s walk with Christ. This may be true, and I can relate with that, but I think that spending all that time with believers and learning from them is worth feeling inconsistent immediately after coming home. If I didn’t go on the trip, I would not have even thought about spending more time in the Word daily. I think it’s a very building experience to be on a mission trip.
    Oh, and to answer your concerns on the price, just remember this, if God wanted another missionary to be sponsored instead of you, He would make sure it got done. I would say, pray about it, as much as possible, then listen for God’s answer.

  • I have been on one national mission trip and am planning to go on another this summer, and I definitely believe teens should go on them. When I went, I was already at a high point in my faith, and being surrounded with other believers and experiencing even more of that ‘spiritual high’ pushed me to get even deeper into the Word and spend even more time with Him after I got home. One thing I noticed when I was on the trip was that many kids who were there only went because they had always been going. This is the wrong attitude. We should be going because of love and a desire to serve others. When we have this desire, it becomes easier to serve even in the mundane. Also when they did that, they weren’t growing in their faith, it was just something to do every summer.

    • “serve even in the mundane” –well worded; that’s a very big and very important part of a life of servitude towards God! =vD Something our instant entertaining generation has to get used to.

  • If I might add but a small tidbit, here it is for what it’s worth.

    Mission trips, done right, are a way for God to use you to work in ways you don’t normally get the chance to do. AND, mission trips are ways for God to stretch and grow you in your faith. Take both of those factors into consideration.
    For me, I have had quite a bit of experience with mission trips, especially recently. My family went to El Salvador for a week and did children’s ministry to three different churches and communities. Did we have an impact in the community? Yes, small though it may have been. Did the trip leave an impact on us? DEFINITELY. I grew in my faith more than I ever have before. Many times, God uses times of service to Him to impact us, and the people we minister.
    Was it worth the money? For myself, definitely. However, for others it might not be. Going on mission needs to be done for the right reasons, just like anything else. If you don’t have a good attitude with an intention of doing your hardest and best, you aren’t going to be very usable by God. But, that is part of the preparation to going. You have to go for the right reasons.
    As for the fact that we need to reaching out in our own backyard, that is definitely true. Jesus told us to reach out to our own Jerusalem before the ends of the earth. However, everyone of us should do what God has called us to do. Seek His face daily and He will help you make the right decision.

    Forever on Mission,

  • I think teens should definitely go on missions trip if they get the chance. I’ve been on two and am going on another this summer. I don’t think being on a spiritual high is a bad thing, and it might take you awhile to get over it, but I don’t think that being closer to God is ever bad. And I’ll just add that it really isn’t about us when we go on a missions trip. It’s about the people we are going to serve. If we impact their lives at all, then I think that it was completely worth it.

    • I agree that spiritual highs aren’t bad. But it’s the RELYING on them to be everything in your faith that isn’t good. If we can’t cope with the times that God chooses to stay silent, that’s not a good foundation for faith.

      • Yes, I agree with that completely. I guess it has a lot to do with how mature you are in your faith in the first place and how well you can cope with things like that. But, in my opinion, I also don’t think that the risk of being on a spiritual high and it effecting you later should stop teens from ever going on a missions trip, if that makes sense. I’m not sure if that’s what you were implying or not, that is just what I understood from your question.

          • Yeah, it really does depend, I guess, on who the teen is and how they will respond. If God calls you to go on a missions trip, though, teen or not, I don’t think anything should hold you back. But if you aren’t sure, then yes, in that circumstance, the teen probably shouldn’t go. So in conclusion I really agree with what everyone is saying πŸ™‚

      • My Pastor often quotes his seminary professor, who said:
        “things don’t grow on mountain tops. They grow in the valleys.”

  • Service aimed mission trips are important because they show the local church that they have brothers and sisters all over the world, and that we are one in Christ regardless of all our differences. It’s a huge encouragement to them, even though it is a bit rough sometimes. Just be sure your trip is focused on loving the people you meet and that you’re actually being a help to them.

    • I agree completely! Our heart needs to be in the right place when we do something like that (actually, I think there was just an article about that πŸ™‚ ) It is really cool to see fellow Christians in places you’ve never even heard of. It’s also really awesome how strong their faith can be despite how little they have πŸ™‚

  • Serving by going on mission trips is a great opportunity for teens, especially those who want to become a missionary overseas someday. I personally think that you do have to be mature enough mentally and spiritually before going on one, however. I spent a week in Appalachia with a girl who was still depending on her mother to pick out her clothes. I’m not saying that to judge, I’m saying it as an example; mission trips can be very spiritual things, and if you aren’t mature enough, you can get really upset or broken up about what you see or experience.
    Mission trips themselves are great things, and I love the idea that teens can get dirty while helping others, and also learning from the adults who are taking them on the trip. Going on one for your own personal gain is a bad idea, as you can pull the focus from the people your supposed to be serving to yourself. Mission trips aren’t a vacation with friends, or a service to your own feelings. They’re all for somebody else.
    God Bless!

  • I partly agree, but I just want to say this:For the first two points, I guess that depends on the maturity level of the teen. On the third point, what’s the difference between an adult going on a missions trip or a teen? While I agree with the point, why does that apply only to teens? Seems like a double standard.

    The church I used to go to in Michigan (before I moved) had a missions trip to Detroit (I guess this kind of relates to your second point). I went on it and I learned a lot. I realized how blessed we are compared to others. One of the places we served at was a year-round public school in the summer. Most kids went there for the lunch and the dinner they were sent home with. Very sad. I wasn’t that mature then, but if I had the chance I’d go on it again. The experiences were worth it.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Chris T! With the adults/teens thing – I guess that last point applies for adults too. I didn’t include them simply because I didn’t think about it – I was just listing reasons for teens. But yes, you’re right, they should be included in that last point too.

  • I believe from personal experience that mission trips are one of the things God can use to produce tremendous growth in a Christian teen.

    When I went to Africa at 17 years old, I had to trust God. I mean really trust Him. I had to lay down my life and fears in order to take His hand. Then He led me onward.

    The plain fact of the matter is that mission work will never be easy, whether you are an adult or teen. Coming back to reality also means culture shock. It took me a few weeks to adjust to living in the US. Satan loves to get his foot in the door of your life whenever possible. I suggest clinging to Jesus in those times after the trip and being faithful to read the Word. We have mountaintops and valleys in the Christian walk. He promises to walk with us in those places and we must be faithful to follow in His steps. The Christian life will not always be thrilling. Jesus didn’t add a disclaimer in The Great Commission (suggesting reasons why not to go). He gives the command to all–“Go!”

  • I totally think teens should go on missions trips.
    My reasons are three-fold, two for those who are going, and one for those who are in the country being visited.
    1) It really helps the teens grow both in their maturity, wisdom, and knowledge. While on the trip teens learn maturity, they have to survive without their parents. But they aren’t without guidance, the team-leaders are often highly knowledgeable, and spending time with people who aren’t your parents, but are teaching good moral character, is super beneficial to teens. And the trips often teach a teen that’s paying attention knowledge they aren’t likely to pick up anywhere else. Now admittedly, your friend’s concerns aren’t unfounded, if a teen isn’t spiritually grounded, then it might not be super beneficial for them. Of the two missions trips that I’ve gone on, one was with my youth group and one was with a group of men in our church. And both were certainly fun, but the trip with other men really helped me. One of the big problems with teens now is that they don’t have examples of how they are supposed to act, so they base it off of their peers(and we know how that goes), but to go on a trip full of different versions of Godly men that can be respected really helped me(and I’ve been raised in a Christian home).
    2) Missions trips are also great testing ground, alot of the missionaries I know are missionaries because they loved the missions trips they went on as teens. They didn’t necessarily feel God’s calling then, but almost all of the stories I’ve heard mentioned teen mission trips. And some missionaries did decide to become one during a missions trip as a teen.
    3) It really helps the people we are going to go help, either it encourages them that there is still hope for the youth of the US, or, those that organised the trips organised a trip that could only be done by that group, not by some permanent missionaries, but only by that group. I went to Costa Rica in my first trip(the one that was an all men group), and we fixed a church up. Tiled the entire floor, fixed it’s wiring problems, gave them a working restroom. The thing though, was that there was not a way that missionary could have done all those things with the money we spent. There’s a big difference between a pastor getting an extra dozen thousand dollars to hire people to work on his church, and 13 men working 10-12 hour days, paying for all the supplies, and only asking for rooms and food. And then in my second trip, to Italy(youth group this time), the local church still couldn’t have done what we did, we spent 7-8 days evangelizing with the local kids, and their church couldn’t have talked all those kids, nor likely even attracted that number of kids to the park. Going on a trip get’s stuff done, even if it’s not always what we intended, it’s what He intended.
    My point isn’t that all the trips I go on get stuff done by the way, I just realized I might sound that way, but I’m not try to self-glorify. My point is that God puts together exactly the team needed for that trip, and if He needs pure work force muscle power and electrician/plumbing knowledge then He puts together 13 guys, and if He wants large numbers of children being evangelized He grabs 20-30 teens that can play soccer(the sport of all Italians). He know’s what’s best, so if all we have to do as teens is try and make sure God’s got as many opportunities as possible to use us.

    • Thanks for you thoughts, Jediah! They’re good points. Although I would have to say that sometimes the teens DON’T learn maturity, unfortunately. But I would by no means say that that’s the majority of teens on missions. I guess it depends on who’s going. If it’s teens from your church who want to make a difference, they’ll probably learn better. But if it’s a stack of teens going because their parents made them, or just cause it’s over-seas…. probably not so good.

  • Cassie, you are so insightful. I speak from experience. One time, a long time ago, there were requirements, spiritual and otherwise for teens going on trips. Depending on what denomination you are in and who is leading can make a lot of difference. Charismatic and Pentecostal denominations tend to put a lot of emphasis on spiritual highs for the moment. Some churches still do require accountability. One church in our area has chosen a town a few hundred miles away and all year the youth are required to earn money for all of the needs for that town and they go back yearly. It teaches commitment and they learn to love these people. The denominations’ leadership is really responsible for these trips. I have been on mission trips and teen spiritual getaways. The ones my husband and I attended were nothing but hormones on steroids with some spiritual activities thrown in. There are parents that would not let their kids go unless we were going with them. I have ministered to hundreds of teens in my lifetime, and the percentage of adults 30 on down, who were raised in these type of churches, who are still active in church is less than 20%.

    While many parents had good intentions and hope for these trips, the church has failed to realize that the maturity of teens in the church are way below the maturity level of those going on trips 40-50 years ago.

    Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on these trips each year. I wonder if these kids would work as hard if they had to donate all of their money to the missionaries and pastors in the field.

    I don’t deny that some labor and building has had a beneficial impact in some areas, but wouldn’t it be wiser to send the money to the area for the pastor/missionary to use as he sees fit. They could put people to work, feed and clothe the poor, etc.

    • You just drafted a response completely devoid of any mention of God’s specific leading to the individual. God’s leading is not necessarily logical to our human minds. You’re right; I don’t understand why God would lead 16 year old, unexperienced me to go to Malawi. I don’t get it. But you know the beauty? I don’t have to. I just have to trust God, obey God, and leave the results up to God. I don’t have to figure out whether it’s more efficient to go or stay, I just have to obey God’s leading in my life. He said go. I went.

      I just returned from an overseas missions trip. I didn’t go because I thought it would be really exciting to eat rice two meals a day, get drenched to the skin, have water drip on you all night while you sleep on a damp mattress, and go to the bathroom in a hole in the dirt. That has a way of keeping people from going just for the fun of it, or for the spiritual high of it. It does have a way of deepening your reliance on Him.

      I’ll tell you why I went. I went because I felt God leading me to go. Not because I enjoy doing that. Not because I enjoy getting soaking wet and eating rice with a group of other young people (although I found in a weird way it has its own set of enjoyment).

      “wouldn’t it be wiser to send the money to the area for the pastor/missionary to use as he sees fit.” Do you realize that you and I are called to be pastors/missionaries?

      “They could put people to work, feed and clothe the poor, etc.” Those are both great things. But they’re not the goal of missions. The goal of missions is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. That is the goal of missions trips, something you addressed under the heading of “etc.”

      One of the reasons I think missions trips can be very good is because many Americans do what it appears you just did (I may be reading your post wrong; this is just what it seems at a glance). “Evangelizing other cultures is someone else’s call. Just give your money to them.” That’s not what the Bible teaches.

      The Bible teaches that it’s my job. It’s your job. Matt. 28 is not aimed at certain, specific individuals who get struck by an amazing call to take the gospel world-wide. It’s a call to every single believer.

      Do we need people to stay in America and proclaim the gospel? Absolutely! Do we need people (maybe even teenagers too) to go to China, Brazil, or Ukraine to proclaim the gospel? Apparently Jesus thought so!

      Do you think missionaries just one day wake up and fall, completely ready for the mission field, right in the field God wants them in? I don’t think so.

      I feel God wants me to go to Africa as a missionary. I just returned yesterday from my first overseas missions trip to Malawi. Some of the reasons I went was for a first taste of African culture, to see if I could tolerate it, to talk to national pastors as to needs they see, and a few other things. I felt these were things that I needed to address so I could be better prepared.

      Reaching the lost, of America or Africa, is not some one faceless person called a missionaries job. It’s yours. It’s mine. Sometimes God uses people’s gift of money to missionaries. Sometimes He uses individuals, untrained, young, nontalented individuals.

      Don’t force God’s leading in your life (to stay home and send money) to apply to everyone else’s life.

      I’m sorry for being so blunt, maybe even harsh. I’m a little low on energy right now, and really do appreciate your input. I may disagree, but it is interesting to look at other’s opinions! Thank you for sharing.

      • First of all, I have lived many more years than you. I have been highly involved in youth at every capacity and sent hundreds of kids on trips. And I speak from much experience. Do you have any idea how many of these kids claim they want to be missionaries in their teen years? Out of hundreds of proclamations, I personally know of only one and he didn’t want to be a missionary, who actually became one. I have seen more money wasted on these so-called mission trips that I am convinced that except for a minute of a fraction that are meant to be missionaries, the money would be better spent in the field under mature missionaries. Teenagers should still be under the training of their parents and when fully trained and mature, if there is still a desire, then pursue it.

        And, finally, with all due respect, I certainly don’t need a lecture or a reminder of what all believers are mandated to do once saved. You might be wise to find an older mentor. It would do you good.

        • I’m sorry. I didn’t answer you as my elder with the respect and grace I should have. You are obviously older than I am and have certainly had more experience. Please accept my apology.

          I still disagree as to our respective opinions, but my attitude in my response to you was wrong.

          • Apology accepted. Bless you in your life’s ventures. Keep in His Steps! He will never fail you.

  • Last school year I felt the call to serve in the mission field, so I talked to my parents and we found a team for me to join. In June I went to a 10 day training camp a couple hours away from my home then I taught free day camps over the summer called 5 Day Clubs.
    Yes. I believe that if you feel truly called to serve in the mission field, take a leap of faith and do it. In the three months I served in the area around my home I learned the power of trusting God. It may not be right for everyone but for being the one who had the opportunity to do it. I’d do it again in a heart beat. Jesus shaped my faith in ways I could never imagine as I was on the street telling children about Him.
    No, it wasn’t easy; but it was worth it. When I saw the joy in a 10 year old girl’s eyes as I handed her a Bible of her own I knew I’d done the right thing.
    It’s not always easy, but when you’re truly serving God with all your heart, it’s ALWAYS worth it.

    • Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Clubs and 5 Day Clubs are definitely great ways to spread the Gospel in your community! It’s how I first got involved in children’s ministry.

  • There’s definitely a difference between teens going on missions trips to learn about the mission field, to increase their knowledge of conditions around the world, etc, and a bunch of teens needed changed attitudes or hearts getting sent somewhere. πŸ™‚

    That said, I’ve actually heard a lot of quiet anger from people who have lived/served overseas long-term regarding “church trips” where people come in, do something they think is helpful, and then leave, without actually linking into to a local church/asking the people there what they could do that would really be helpful. Often this actually causes more problems than it solves. (And how helpful are you being if you come in, ruffle the feathers of a secular organization who is there all the time, and then leave? You certainly haven’t left good conditions for the spreading of the Gospel.)

    Yes, there are projects needing teams…but what would the effect be on local economy if the church there could hire people to complete the project, and bring in people who otherwise might not have come near the church to get to know the Christians there and possibly open some doors?

    And what would the effect on /you/ be, if your youth group got together and made enough money to send to the church to enable them to hire those people, without you getting a spiritually-charged trip with your friends out of the deal?

    Not to say that no one should ever go on a missions trip! But from what I’ve seen, there are many more poorly done and overall unprofitable trips than there are ones resoundingly beneficial. So I’d say Be Careful. πŸ˜€

  • Great insights and concerns raised. It shows a depth of concern for the mission of God’s church that is so refreshing and wonderful. I praise God for it.

    From personal experience, I was on and off a spiritual high ground from 14 to 20, so that first point is so valid. I also work with teenagers whose Christian involvement is oriented in external manifestations, which our fledgling ministry seeks to address with mentoring and relating better with them. Lastly, I’ve both served on a short-term cross-cultural mission and supported planted and native missions.

    Teens should definitely go on mission trips, but as we all know, nothing is ever black and white. The comments below have already painted a great charcoal canvas of this topic, but allow me to place my three cents on the table.
    1. Missions have to be something they feel called by God to do, and that they pray long and hard for the discernment about the opportunities God has opened up for them. Not every open door needs to be walked through, and we frail human beings need the grace and guidance of God to know which ones we should cross the threshold of. For the very points you raised, teenagers need to be guided by prayer and those who are much wiser before they enter the field.
    2. It’s definitely hard to gauge whether or not a person truly walks with Christ from Monday to Saturday. Our engagement needs to be more than Sunday-duty-engagement, which is actually what I hope to do and keep doing with my students. It’s important that when teens go on a mission trip, they are still grounded in the fact that missions is merely an extension of who they are inside, what their spiritual walk is like when no one is looking. Anything else is hypocrisy and grieves the heart of God.
    3. If God calls, it doesn’t matter the resources necessary to get there, He will provide them. It also doesn’t matter who we’re sending, whether they’re under 20 or carrying a ThM from a major Christian seminary. There is a place for cross-cultural ministry and a place for native ministry. Cross-cultural ministry allows you to bring the plight of our brothers and sisters of other cultures to our attention. It fosters prayer, it helps get balls rolling, it encourages the down-trodden and exhausted siblings in Christ, it opens up our tiny little worlds to the enormity of God’s earth and the mission of His Church. That is something I believe teenagers, especially in the Rebelution, should really get to see and experience if given the opportunity.

  • When I traveled to South Africa for six weeks, I only went with 2 other people. I’ve also been on trips with other teens. I find that mission trips can be more effective if people go in small
    groups. I believe more work is accomplished and you get to know the
    people you are working with much better. Often times if there is a group of teens, they can become focused on each other and not on what they came to do. I do think however, that a mission trip can positively influence a teen. I also agree with Chris T.’s point, that the motive behind mission trips should apply to adults as well as teens.

      • Louis – I was in Rustenburg, South Africa which is about 2 hours from Johannesburg. We helped at Dayspring Children’s Village, which is a boarding school for disadvantaged kids from preschool to ninth grade. I taught English to first graders and piano lessons. I went with a family friend who started Dayspring. It was really a great opportunity and I would not have been able to go without God’s help and my church’s support.

        • I’m glad you had a good experience in South Africa. I was naturally curious because I live here now =vD

  • I haven’t read any other comments yet so sorry if this has already been stated but:

    I’ve never been out of America. Just recently my youth group brought up the opportunity to go on a missions trip to Brazil! I’m very excited as my older brother has already gone, and it was life changing. He didn’t do it just for a spiritual high or anything, actually we both love to continue helping others in our own community. It’s just you get a different perspective when you’re really there in third world countries, you get to see firsthand how they live and how much they need the hope that only Christ can give. Along with that he (my brother) helped rebuild a church and several schools within very secluded Amazon tribes (not to mention he held a sloth *-*)

    So yeah we need to keep up with our daily things that can be just as good opportunities to serve and reach out, but I think for me at least, going on missions trips is what keeps my fire alive and how I keep things from feeling monotonous. It doesn’t mean you have to just do missions work or just do stuff in whatever country or community you live in. If God is calling you, go.

  • I will say that missions trips can help teens to get a better perspective of God, at least as far as I’ve heard. It can indeed help them be able to experience God in a new and exhilarating way. I hope to go on a mission trip soon myself, but I am not going with the sole desire to get a “God high.” That’s another reason: make sure your motives are pure and self-less in your desire to go on a trip. Go with the attitude of a servant, and be ready to do anything and everything you are asked. So I would say that your motives should be right, and if you really think that God wants you to go, go.

    Hope this helps.

  • My daughter is months away from a mission trip to Zimbabwe. We struggled with the amount of money it would take to send her, thinking that like many of you have mentioned, wouldn’t it be better to give the money to the native missionary we support? However, when we mentioned this to him he said, “No, we want you to come and see what we are doing here. Then you will go back home and get others excited about our work.” A missionary we support has also said that natives of the countries she visits are so grateful that you would want to come. They are blessed by your coming. So we view mission trips as very beneficial. I do agree with another poster that your mindset should be to serve in areas specifically asked, not what your team thinks is important. Be willing to serve in any way.

  • This is definitely an interesting DQ… and I must admit… I actually agree with Cassie…

    However there are always exceptions. If it’s a “Rebelutionary Teen” we’re talkin about… then they will, no doubt, be serving GOD no matter the setting. Sadly this IS NOT the norm!

    Also… the description Cassie gives above of “youth missions trips” reminds me of another almost identical youth experience… Youth Camps and Youth Conventions! Honestly, we could throw them all in the category of “Christian Highs” for teens.

    Now I DO think these events can be beneficial to the “Saved teens” in our churches… But to the “Unsaved majority?” Ummm… NO! (I personally have never heard a truely challenging sermon at a youth event… ya know that “MEATY” message that leaves you with something to chew on! Something that will truely equip you as an ALREADY SAVED teen! But maybe that’s just my experience…)

    It seems to me that the “main course” being served at today’s youth events is NOT “the meat” but “the milk” of the GOD’s Word.

    • Wow, I feel the same way about a lot of “Christian” youth geared events. Although it’s rare to find camps and conventions actually geared to saved teens, they do exist! I went to a camp that had more of the “meaty” stuff just this past summer. I crave the MEAT! And I crave community with like-minded, already saved teens who share my appetite.

      • I so CRAVE that too! I knew there JUST HAD to be places out there for you and me, Riley! Lol.. It’s good to know you’ve found one! πŸ˜‰

        • Ahhhh! Can I join!?! Other Christian teens who are passionate and knowledgeable about their faith!?!!!!
          Sometimes I feel like Isaiah, when he told God that he was the only one left who truly believed… However, there 7000 who remained true (1 Kings 19)
          But more and more I realise that I am not the only one…
          God is good

          • I think that was Elijah…:). But isn’t it such a beautiful story? It just goes to show that even the prophets of God caved and felt insecure and lonely at times.

          • Definitely! Welcome to the club… lol Although if you are a Rebelutionary, then you have already joined! πŸ˜‰


        I want something where people can go to dig into the bible, not just skim the top.

        Oh my word! I am so happy now! #imnottheonlyone!

    • So true! Thankfully I’ve been blessed to attend an amazing youth conference over the past few years. The teaching is always very deep and powerful. We have a “deathball” event, though (basically dodgeball on steroids), which is fun, but they make too big a deal out of it, and I think a lot of the youth are only there for that. Regardless, it’s a blessing for those who take it seriously. πŸ™‚

    • Good points! And you’re right – many other youth-geared events fit in the same category, unfortunately. I’m with you – feed me meat!

    • Yes, this modern “watered down” average Christian youth group subculture is a truly sad thing and a far cry from the standard that Timothy set.

  • I went on a mission trip to Uganda last year with my dad and I was all into it. I had been raising my own money for a long time to go and get (I didn’t know this at the time) a spiritual high. I definitely learned a lot! Absolutely no part of me regrets going. I did experience a spiritual high but I also learned that these spiritual highs are just feelings and a real relationship with God is continuous and everyday, despite how we feel at the moment.
    I think teens should absolutely go on mission trips. Even if they think they’re going for that feeling -what they don’t realize is a spiritual high- they WILL benefit others in at least a small way and definitely benefit themselves in the long run.
    I also discovered, after I came home to boring, everyday life, that I would rediscover a new passion for Uganda. I have grown in spirit and maturity since my last trip and I can honestly say I have more to offer now. I don’t think I would have grown as quickly or in this way if I hadn’t gone to Uganda in the first place.
    I fell in love with a country and a people and I believe God put the desire in me to go back. I trust him now with my spirituality and I’m not in search now for spiritual highs. (I do enjoy them but I don’t base my Christian thinking on what I’m feeling anymore)
    Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • I think teens should definitely go on mission trips!! I have been on 2 of them, both inside the country. (Not all mission trips are overseas.) They have been 2 of the best weeks of my life and I will never forget them. I would love to go on an overseas trip sometime, too.

    There is definitely a high that comes with a trip like this, and it is very disappointing when it dies down. However, after it’s gone, I remind myself of what I learned on the trip and what I was thinking when I was all excited. There is a lasting impact, it just may not be super obvious because the high doesn’t last. First of all, there’s the impact you had on the people in the place you were serving, and then there are the relationships you built with those working with you, and also the lessons you learned about God and yourself.

    On one of the mission trips I was part of with an organization called World Changers, the focus of the teaching time was making an impact right where you are. The leaders talked about how we have all been given a circle of influence where we can be serving God. So sometimes a mission trip can actually motivate you to go home and make a difference with your own family, friends, and community.

    As for the money, the experience is definitely worth every penny.

    So there’s my thoughts…I havent read many of the other responses yet, so hopefully I’m not just repeating what everyone else said. πŸ™‚

    God bless,

    Amanda <3

  • Regarding your friend’s concerns, this is what I think.
    1. Although I get what your friend is saying about a “spiritual high,” I think that it can be a good motivator to examine how you’re living at home. What was it during that trip that made you feel so close to God? Was it the fact that you were focused on others and not yourself? Was it because a leader was laying out your day for you and building in time for devotions (and you struggle to make time at home)? How can you take the things that brought you closer to God during the trip and replicate them at home?
    2. I don’t think it’s so much that teens are unwilling to serve at home as it is they’re unsure how to serve at home. Going on a mission trip provides specific ways for the teen to serve. I believe that if teens were given specific ways to serve at home, they’d jump on board and do it.
    3. If the teen is certain that the mission trip is part of God’s plan for him/her, then yes, it is a wise use of money. While it’s true that a native could stretch the money further in our eyes, many people don’t know natives in foreign countries and are not willing to support a cause they don’t feel connected to. These same people, however, know the teenager and are glad to give to someone they know for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. Perhaps after the teen returns and shares about their trip, the people will feel more connected to the foreign country and continually give to a native there.

    I personally have been on 9 mission trips in the last 7 years. I’ve learned lessons that I couldn’t have learned at home, and I’ve learned things that carry over to how I live at home. I’ve also seen teens (from other youth groups) who are also on trips give their lives to God because for the first time, they see the things their leaders talk about every week in action, and it finally makes sense. (And while you should be able to see people living out their faith at home, when you’re sleeping on the same floor at night and telling other people about Jesus together and doing yard work for people you don’t know, it’s a lot easier to see).

  • I understand what your friend is saying and I partly agree with her. We should invest in ministry right here where we can have a longer impact rather than investing in a one-time trip and we should support missionaries who are already on the field. At the same time though, especially for people who want to be full time missionaries at some point in their life, the mission-field can be good practice for real life (I think. I’ve never actually been on a foreign mission trip) and can forge deeper, God-centered friendships between people on the trip. I guess I think it really depends on the persons motives: whether they are going to get (even if what they want to get is an encounter with God) or to give. The new article, “Why do you do what you do?” relates directly to this topic of motives. It’s pretty good.

  • These questions are all ones I wrestled with before going on my first missions trip last summer. It seems many Christian teens do them because it’s “the thing to do” and “all my friends are doing it.” Those are poor reasons to go. Another struggle is knowing that short term missions can do more harm than good (reference When Helping Hurts and Eyes Wide Open).

    So, by all means, don’t jump into missions (long or short term) without a lot of prayer and a lot of research about the pros and cons of short term missions and an understanding of the countries culture. Ask tons of questions. Keep in mind that it’s essential to go with a learning, humble heart–not the mindset that you’re going to help or save poor, uneducated people who have the misfortune of living in an undeveloped country.

    That said, we tend to live in a bubble. Missions can be a fabulous way of breaking out of that bubble, moving out of our comfort zones, and learning new things. I believe there’s a reason Jesus said to *go* in the Great Commission. It doesn’t absolve us from serving in our “normal habitat,” but perhaps serving at home does not absolve us from the command to go either. Just a thought to chew on. πŸ˜‰

    • I agree with your point that short term mission trips (in the hands of the wrong people or if the team is made up of immature or worldly Christians or fake Christians). And it’s also an excellent point that it gets you out of your comfort zone and that you should go with a humble, teachable, servant attitude. And with lots of prayer and research about the country you’re visiting. This research part is one where I’ve seen Americans fail at numerous times.

  • Soooo
    I had a long answer written out, and Disqus decided to delete it. lovely. so just go read @LeahGood ‘s comment… good stuff!

  • Sooooooooooo
    Disqus decided it would be a good idea to delete my long comment… lovely :/ Might get around to retyping it later, but there are some great answers here already!

  • No church should be doing ‘mission trips’ overseas if they aren’t willing to do them here first. Too many churches go overseas when they could go down to the homeless camps. But they don’t.

    • Both, we could do both. But I agree: evangelize in your subdivision first, then your city, then your state, then maybe other states and nations, like the same order followed in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

  • Yes, teens should go on missions trips! It doesn’t have to be very far at all. You could call going to local rescue missions and telling people about Christ a missions trip. I definitely wouldn’t recommend going on a youth group missions trip out of the country because of the high risk involved, however going on a family missions trip overseas could be a lot of fun. For eight years in a row now our family has gone to Ironwood Christian Camp in the high desert of Southern California for one week in January for what they call Nehemiah Work Week. Lots of other families go and we have lots of fun. We do lots of work during the day. All the work we do helps get the camp ready for the summer. Some of the projects our family has worked are: clearing the lake of cattails and muskeet (a project that comes up pretty much every year), organizing different areas, hospitality (another one the that comes up every year), building stuff (another practically annual project), and working in the kitchen (another annual one). My dad, an all-around handy-man, has helped build and repair many things there. I could write a whole l lot more about it but I think you get my point. We can go on missions trips and and affect hundreds of lives without even seeing our talking to them. We can go on missions trips without even going out of State. I’m sure there are church plants or camps in your State that could use some help d for a week or two. A missions trip can be life changing. Many amazing things have happened because a teen went on a missions trip. Children have been adopted andmovements have been started. Yes, teens should definitely go on missions trips.

  • I believe your friend is over-thinking it. I went on a Missions Trip last June to New York City. I plan on going back this year too.

    You see, my church provides many opportunities to go on missions trips. I would LOVE to go on every single one, but that’s just not realistic. Besides becoming a Christian, going on a missions trip is one of the best choices you can ever make. It’s not about getting a “spiritual high” or “looking spiritual” or “posting selfies of you and the native kids on Social Media”. It’s about gaining a new perspective of gratefulness, growing more mature in your walk with God, doing the work of God in a way that is obvious, and getting to know the other people on the team like close brothers and sisters.

    I would recommend your friend goes on a missions trip and see for herself. It’s not something that words can adequately describe. Though I cannot go on every missions trip opportunity my Student Ministry gives out, I can go on a few in my Hig School years. It is DEFINITELY worth the money, unless you don’t have the money to begin with.

    In other words, if you have to go into debt or take money away from things that are more important (like food and shelter for example) then that’s probably not the smartest move. loi. But if you do have the money, it’s ten times better then an expensive vacation to say… Florida’s beaches and Disney World.

    So, in answer to your question, @disqus_0EPlfBsVWj:disqus , yes, it is definitely not only okay for teenagers to go on missions trip, not only good for teenagers to go on missions trips, but it’s great for teenagers to go on Missions Trips. They’re amazing and I highly recommend them. πŸ™‚

    God bless you!
    – Trent

  • Should teens go on missions trips? YES!

    I have gone on two mission trips down to Mexico and they literally changed my life. Now addressing your friends concerns…
    1. I wouldn’t necessarily say mission trips bring spiritual highs but more like strengthend relationships with God. You go and see the Lord’s work and the needs of the world and it impacts you, it really does. But in my life after being on a missions trip it just helps bring me closer to God and help me have passion for His kingdom. I will say the hardest part of the mission trip is leaving- I really developed friendships with kids down at the orphanage I served at and it was pretty hard to say goodbye.
    2. When I got home from my missions trip I was asking myself “Why would I serve so much on the trip but not here at home?” After my trips I see the Lord helping me grow in my servanthood at home. So I think the impact your trip makes on your heart overflows into your work at home too.
    3. We should be wise with our money and that is a good point, your friend brings up. I do see the benefit in sponsoring a missionary instead but sometime God calls YOU!

    Like Trent said, I would recommend your friend to go on a missions trip and see for herself because there really are no words to describe it!


  • While you’ve raised some valid concerns, I believe you missed a very important aspect of teens going on mission trips. Is it a waste of money? Absolutely not. I believe every teenager -every Christian, for that matter- should go on at least one mission trip throughout the course of their life. While it’s true that the amount of money it would take you to go on certain mission trips would be able to fund other things, I firmly believe everyone needs to experience a mission trip. My family goes on mission trips to Uganda every year. We’ve built relationships, started an orphanage and are now leading in teams annually for construction, water filter distribution and medical missions. I myself have been on five overseas mission trips, but technically my whole life is a mission trip. Going overseas to places like Zambia, Uganda, any third world country; it changes you. Seeing how these people live gives you a greater appreciation for what we have. Seeing how these people, who have next to nothing, are willing to give so much; seeing how they are so joyful, hopeful when you share with them the gospel; watching, experiencing for yourself how God changes lives, transforms people; after that, you’re never the same. I come back to the U.S. after a mission trip with not only a greater appreciate, but a greater passion to serve Christ. Not only in other countries, but right here, where God has placed me. So should teens go on mission trips? I can find no feasible reason for someone to be against it, unless they themselves have never experienced one. My best advice would be for them to pray about it and see what God is leading them to do. If a teenager, or anyone else, believes God is calling them to go on a mission trip, then go for it.

  • Hmmm…
    I think is comes down to motives… [see last article :)]
    Is the mission trip full of serving or preaching, or just lots of group activities with a couple service projects. Is it a mission trip, a project trip, or a vacation in disguise? Mission trips should be with the objective of sharing the gospel–if the main focus is anything else, it should not be called a mission trip. Serving physically is good–Jesus did it! But fixing a house will not directly save a soul. I would say be sure you really know what you are getting into.
    to take a concept from another speaker I once heard, do you want the picture of yourself holding the poor little child in your lap, or do you want to genuinely nourish the child’s soul with the gospel? aka something to think about
    As far as sponsoring national missionaries vs going on mission trips, that too is motives, and is not either/or. Once again, be sure it is a real mission trip. There is also probably a balance of how many times you go…
    I have also heard about teens who go on mission trips, come home, and then switch churches, because their church wasn’t alive enough. That is not the “fault” of the mission trip! God wants on-fire Christians!
    P.S. I have never been on a mission trip, but I would like to πŸ™‚

    • I Agree; make sure it’s a genuine missions trip, not a vacation in disguise. I’m also much more in favor of a two month trip than a two week trip.

  • Mathew 28:19-20… the great commission. 1 Timothy 4:12 ‘Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.’ I think that these verses answer that question.
    We are all called to ‘go’ even us teens. Jesus’ followers were young adults (maybe even teens) themselves. I believe that we all should ‘go.’

    • Yeah, all the disciples were teens except Peter were teens πŸ™‚ And I agree completely, the Bible applies to everyone, even young people (and sometimes especially young people) πŸ™‚

  • A friend sent me this article, knowing I would be interested, having just returned from a missions trip to Africa yesterday. I apologize in advance if I am too blunt, being a little low on sleep… and maybe patience!

    Objection 1.) Your friend is not addressing a problem with just missions trips. People do spiritual things looking for spiritual “highs” witnessing, praying, singing, preaching, and teaching, along with missions trips. I don’t see a long line of people lining up to protest against people doing any of the other things I mentioned just because some do it for the wrong reasons. Instead, I see Christians attempting to encourage each other to do these things, just adjust their attitudes so that they’re now doing the right things, for the right reasons. I think this should be our response to missions trips.

    If you have a friend going on a missions trip who is doing it for a spiritual high, by all means, encourage them to either change their motivation or don’t go! But don’t condemn ALL missions trips because someone on the team, or on some team you knew of in the past, may have/have had a wrong motive! Aren’t we glad that we don’t apply that logic to going to church! (Billy Bob and Sister Susy came to church today just looking for a spiritual high; I’ll have the church secretary send out a church-wide email canceling church. Forever.)

    Objection 2.) More of the same. If you see a friend going on a missions trip, and they say something like, “I am so happy to go on a missions trip so I can serve God, ’cause I can’t at home”, please, be a good friend and address that. You’re right, each and every one of us have a God-given ministry, called everyday life.

    However, the fact that some people say that doesn’t mean that we should cancel all missions trips forever so that no one will ever, ever go on a missions trip for that wrong reason again! That also means no one will go on a missions trip for the right reasons again either!

    Just because some people do things for the wrong reasons does not make it your friend’s job to condemn that ministry for everyone!

    Objection 3.) This one is actually a good point. However, I was personally able to share the gospel with about 500 people in Africa while I was there. I don’t really feel like doing the math as to whether if I gave that money to someone else, maybe they could have done more with it. It’s certainly possible.

    God uses organizations and individuals. He’s not limited to one or the other. If God tells you to send your money to an organization, he’s got a reason for that. Obey him. But don’t condemn someone who felt leading the other way. He has the same duty you do, to obey God.

    But my motivation for going on the trip was not that I was going to do more than anyone else to spread the gospel. I went because I felt God leading me to go. I don’t know how necessarily logical it was to use as much money as I did to fly there, travel around Malawi, then fly home. I do know, with 100% certainty, that it was God’s will for me to do that.

    If your friend feels led by God to give her money to a missions organization, that’s awesome! She should do so. If I feel led by God to use my money to send myself to the mission field, short term, that’s awesome too. I should do so! And she should not try to assign God’s leading in her life to mine, any more than I should try to assign God’s leading in my life to hers.

    My point is this: follow God’s leading in your life. I’m not saying your friend has to go on a missions trip to please God. I am saying that the Bible is very, very clear that it is our job as Christians to proclaim Jesus Christ to furthest reaches of the world. Can you do that better by supporting an organization or by going yourself? I don’t know. That’s not my job. My job is to simply do as Christ commands me to do!

    I don’t think your friend addressed what she thought she addressed. Much of what she said was true. Many people go on missions trips for wrong motives. I agree; they shouldn’t go on missions trips with that kind of motivation! However, I don’t believe that some people’s wrong motivation should stop other people (with right motivation) from going to teach Jesus Christ in Africa, Asia, or Mars!

  • I think it can be a really good thing. Especially for teens that are obsessed with themselves. Sending them to live in a third world country for awhile really wakes them up to reality. Yes it costs a lot of money, and it would probably be worth more to just send the money. But it is more for the people going on the trip really than the work you are doing. Though it impacts both. The most important impact is on the young person themselves.

  • Well, I do believe that you can spend thousands of dollars for one week and you can ask yourself if it was frugal or worth it. The answer depends on whether it was God’s will or not. I would highly recommend teenagers to first have a strong quiet time and relationship with God through Jesus Christ before going on a missions trip. When I was 16, I wanted to go on a missions trip to rural Mozambique, Africa, from Texas. It never happened, because it wasn’t God’s timing yet, and I wasn’t ready yet; I didn’t really have much of a quiet time. (In that state, I could’ve done more harm than good, as could any other American youth who spiritually immature). But, when I was 17, God got me to start reading my Bible and it radically changed my life, even though I was already saved. Then, after about 7 months of reading my Bible a lot, every day, God led me and gave me peace about going to Mozambique for a missions trip, and He opened the doors and provided the funds and I went three months later and I was in Africa for three months (for the summer break of 2009). Going for a couple months helped to justify the enormous travel costs. It was an awesome experience and helped me to grow in my relationship with God. I was 18, and I sort of worked like an apprentice alongside the missionary there. I was the only young person on the mission base. It was a very positive experience. But God knew I needed those 10 months of preparation in His Word before I was allowed to go. Many such young people go on mission trips end up going to the mission field themselves. I did.

  • I think a forth point is that some teens may be eager to go on a missions trip just to escape there parents or leave the place that they live for a while.
    It looks like they’re being great Christians, but really they’re just trying to get out of the house and away from responsibility’s. Sort of like a holiday.

    Just a thought..

  • I have a tough time with this question myself. I agree that we should take plenty of time to pray and carefully evaluate our motives before going on missions trips, as we should before doing anything, of course πŸ™‚

    “‘Consider the lilies of the field’- they grow where they are put. Many of us refuse to grow where we are put, consequently we take root nowhere.” -Oswald Chambers

    Like anything else in a sin-marred world, we can use mission trips for God’s purposes or our own. That’s why I think the quote above is applicable to this topic as a tool for personal evaluation. I mean, If I am truly devoted to the Lord, shouldn’t I be displaying that focus and drive wherever I am? Am I growing where I am planted? Do I give it my all here and now, or am I relying on an exciting experience (maybe that “spiritual high” your friend was talking about) to produce service?
    So, like most other folks said, it comes down to a heart issue. But while we think about that, let’s remember the words of the great commission- to make disciples. That seems awfully difficult to do in a week or two πŸ™‚ Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking missions trips completely! There is undoubtedly a tremendous amount of good done through them. I just think we need to use care especially on short-term evangelistic trips. One book that I thought had a good perspective on this was “Will our Generation speak?” By Grace Mally. In any case, when we are honestly willing to do God’s work and obey His commands, and if we will humbly seek after Him through His word and prayer, he will show us the way and bless us. “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches them His way”- Psalm 25:9
    God Bless!

  • Just a thought that is interesting to note. The great commission says “Go into the world and take the good news with you.” That’s paraphrased obviously but it is still a command from our Lord. Motives should be examined but even those with selfish motives can experience life changing adventures on mission.
    I live in Africa and it is amazing to see how people can be changed when exposed to some woman who only has bit of sugar and a packet of tea in her house and yet shares generously with her neighbour. Or a family that has taken in 5,10 or sometimes more orphans because of the devastation of AIDS on this continent, making space in their three room house for as many as they can without expecting anything in return.
    Back to my point. I believe that going is always good, whether you go for selfish reasons or not, going is not only commanded but needed. The Church has turned inward and become a selfish self-serving entity in the western world even those involved with supporting missionaries still have an inward focus that isn’t supposed to be there. This is not the function of the Church. The function of His Church is to spread the word. In conclusion your motives are not important what is important is the going, the fulfilling of the great commission even if it is just for one week every two years.

    • Interesting. This made me think of Philippians 1:15-18 “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

      • Precisely. The goal is the spreading of the gospel and sometimes the changes in the life of the person spreading it are more profound than those that hear the words. Either way if Christ ends up glorified does it matter how it started?

  • Some people in my Church just recently went on a missions trip to

    1 They took soaps, facecloths, toys and other things for the people there
    and they where Sooooo happy and thankful.

    2 The men who went made public toilets, (everyone used a bush there :0)
    and appointed some locals to do the cleaning.

    3 And every Sunday they organized Church service’s for the locals and many
    people where saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and Baptized.

    I will hopefully go next time, even if it’s in four years,
    Because we have to raise the money ourselves.
    It’s only a small church that I go to.

  • I just went on a mission trip to Tanzania in Africa. I want to tell everyone that I enjoyed going there and I would recommend it to those who are seriously thinking about it. It is rewarding on the trip and I believe God will give you great reward for serving Him also.

  • I think that the answer is an overwhelming YES!!!!! It really comes down to the motives of the person. (I haven’t read the other comments yet, so I didn’t get this from someone else.)

  • I have been on a couple. I went because 1. a bunch of my friends were going 2. our group was going to a camp there to help the workers there build 3. the work we did there is the type of work that you just wouldn’t do here. For example, making cement with a bucket of water and a shovel, or clearing a large mound of dirt with a shovel. Here, we would use a bulldozer or a cement mixer. they just don’t have the supplies that we have here.

  • I think, like other people have said, even if it is for selfish motives, itΒ΄s worth it, because the gospel is being preached and because it changes you. For me, the Β΄spiritual highΒ΄ taught me a lot of things about my life with God, and how I needed to change. I also noticed that I needed to serve at home too. It does seem weΒ΄re willing to serve others, but not our family most of the time, but God has also helped me with that. About the financial part, that always worried me a lot, and I think itΒ΄s definately something to consider. If you can help many more people with that money than goig yourself, you might need to consider doing exactly that. Just the fact that youΒ΄re thinking about it means you care, and you can help out in your own way, with cheaper things.
    I hope that made sense πŸ™‚

  • I work as both a missions pastor and the youth pastor at my church. Teens on a mission is a complicated matter. I think it helps to define what your goals are for that trip, what are your goals for that youth, and will that youth’s attendance be fruitful in both areas.

  • Every person is different. If you really want to serve the world, you’ll find a way to do it – even if that means traveling across the street to mow your neighbor’s lawn instead of hopping on a plane. Mission trips are great for some, not so much for others, but there are ways to serve all around us. When the time comes, I’d love to go on a mission trip, but I don’t think God has that planned for me this year. I tried but it didn’t work out (the people in charge said I was too young) but I’ll find other ways to serve and grow in my faith.

  • Honestly I believe teens are no different when they are going on a mission trip than adults are! I mean if a teen is serious about it, What’s the diffence? Some people need they spiritual boost, it does something to you. And let me quote 1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” It says clearly DON’T LET ANYONE LOOK DOWN ON YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE YOUNG!

    • Yes. No one should look down on teenagers because they are young. But I do think we as teenagers need training before a mission trip. Without training we might go into a mission trip with the mentality that we are there to treat people like evangelism projects and to be the “savior” of the world. I made this mistake when I went on my first mission trip. We need the wisdom and training of the adults and our own compassionate heart so that we may be ready to embrace servant hood and empathy.

  • I think missions trips are fine if they aren’t called missions trips. They’re vacations. They really are. I think that’s how they should be treated because in reality we probably don’t help much. Going in and building a church actually takes away from the local economy. The money spent to get us to other countries or even different areas of our own country could go so much further in the hands of a ministry already there. Mission trips are certainly not a good model of help. They may even harm. Read Poor Economics by two MIT professors: aid is a very difficult thing to provide. But if we do missions trips to grow ourselves or experience spiritual highs (*shiver* I hate that concept), we might as well call it a vacation because it’s for us, not anyone else.

    • It depends on the missions trip. I have read of some that could be better termed vacations, while a recent trip to Malawi I went on would hardly be labeled a vacation. So please don’t blanket label all missions trips as vacations. If that’s the case, I spent my “vacation” sleeping on a concrete floor, eating rice, and preaching/teaching/evangelizing. Not the typical definition of a vacation.

      • Taylor, I just reread my comment, and I realized that it could look strange! I didn’t mean to suggest all missions trips are cruises and cushy living (although it totally sounded like I did! :p). I’m rather conflicted in my own mind about how to view missions trips. I’m sure you did awesome things when you went to Malawi (that’s an unusual one, by the way. Did you like it there?), but I still struggle with the concept of missions trips on a whole because I’m convinced that economically and possibly spiritually a lot of them don’t help the locals and may actually harm them. I’m wary of missions trips because I think a lot of them are more for the people going than the people they are supposed to serve (although this is definitely not always the case). However, I am not broadly read on the subject and having never been on a missions trip myself, I cannot contribute with full awareness! I DO know that there definitely ARE missions trips that are beneficial.

        Sorry for this novel length response! I’m just trying to figure things out myself. πŸ™‚

        • Okay, that makes more sense! I very much agree with you then. Thank you for the “novel length response”; it helps me understand where you are coming from much better!

          I loved Malawi. I have an interest in African missions (although not that part of Africa specifically), so it was an excellent introduction to Africa, its people, and its culture.

          I’m sorry if I came across as combative or insulted. I was more along the lines of confused! Thank you for your response!

          • P.S. And you’re right; many missions trips do very much cater to the American ideals. I always wince when I watch missions trip presentations that start with the video of all the little children saying a verse in English, that they have no idea what they just said. All it was was an emotional tear-jerker. So I get what you’re saying.

            Thanks again for your response!

          • Thank you for being so kind. Your comment didn’t come across poorly at all, and I appreciate that in the Rebelution we can all discuss things like these as friends and further our own ideas in the process. πŸ™‚

  • Hi. I was recently thinking about going on a missions trip to Kibera, Kenya. But how do you tell if God is calling you or not? Any advice?

    • Hi Faith! A year ago I went on a mission trip. After God had opened my eyes to the hurt and brokenness that I saw there, I was eager to love these kids that I had worked with. It was exhausting, but it just showed me how His love is so much stronger than Satan’s plan for evil.
      This year they had sign up sheets for the trip, of corse I wanted to go again and perhaps reconnect with the kids that I had become friends with last year. But something held me back, I decided to pray about it. The year before I had told many people “Yeah! I know God is calling me to do this” but I didn’t actually pray to Him whole-heartedly. So this time I did. Two weeks later I got my answer and it was the hardest thing to accept. Why? Because I felt God’s silence. I cried that day, when I got His answer.
      Faith, God will give you an answer, but sometimes it’s not one you will want to hear. So, don’t just pray, listen to Him. Cry out to Him and ask Him ” I have a heart for you Lord and for the people of Kenya. Show me what to do and I will obey”
      We need to be willing to be willing.
      I hope that helped!

  • Hi Faith! A year ago I went on a mission trip. After God had opened my eyes to the hurt and brokenness that I saw there, I was eager to love these kids that I had worked with. It was exhausting, but it just showed me how His love is so much stronger than Satan’s plan for evil.
    This year they had sign up sheets for the trip, of corse I wanted to go again and perhaps reconnect with the kids that I had become friends with last year. But something held me back, I decided to pray about it. The year before I had told many people “Yeah! I know God is calling me to do this” but I didn’t actually pray to Him whole-heartedly. So this time I did. Two weeks later I got my answer and it was the hardest thing to accept. Why? Because I felt God’s silence. I cried that day, when I got His answer.
    Faith, God will give you an answer, but sometimes it’s not one you will want to hear. So, don’t just pray, listen to Him. Cry out to Him and ask Him ” I have a heart for you Lord and for the people of Kenya. Show me what to do and I will obey”
    We need to be willing to be willing.
    I hope that helped!

  • Those are great points! But, at the same time, one mission trip can impact a teen’s life forever and motivate them to continue evangelism. I also think that some of the arguments brought up really only apply to certain people as everyone is different with different personalities, motives, and maturity. In the end, I say that yes, teens should go on mission trips, but they should first be taught how to live out what they’ve learned once they get back home.

  • Those are definitely questions my family has wondered about. I guess it all comes down to why are you going and who are you going with. My former youth group was pretty much made up of shallow kids who we’re kind of going for the ‘what can i get out of it’ mindset. I actually spent the first five years of my life as a missionary kid and now as a pastor’s kid. I have never been on a teen missions trip because of some things that happened to me in early childhood. But as I am on the road to recovering I would like to go to Northern Ireland my junior year with teen missions. i have some time to prepare for it since right now I’m a measly freshman πŸ˜› But I know that mission trips are a great way to get outside of yourself and if you want to go into the mission field as an adult it’s a fantastic way to get some hands on experience. So if you are going for the right reasons and with the right people I think it’s a great thing to do. My advice would be to pray about it and talk with your parents. My mom has always said that instead of pursuing something yourself let God bring it to you. Then you’ll know its the right thing.

    I didn’t read all the comments, so I could be repeating someone else but hope it helps!

  • Mission trips are an inefficient use of money. That money is desperately needed. Personally, that is enough to convince me.

    I see the point that mission trips can be inspiring, but if God is going to talk to you, he will. He is everywhere, so you can be inspired by him everywhere.

    That’s my stance, any thoughts?

  • Semi related question: is giving people food or bibles more important? Say, if you were going on a mission trip and only had funds to provide one?

    • I think both are extremely important. Instead of giving one or the other I might give both just to fewer people, or take care of physical needs with a consistent spoken witness. Hope this helps!

  • I understand your point about how a servants heart should start at home… But some people like myself need to see the kind of things they see on a mission trip in order for that attitude to be brought to their home and school. Mission trips and churches aren’t museums for good people, they are hospitals for the broken. you could spend the money otherwise yes, but you can never experience anything like a mission trip again. Great post though.

    Juliana Grace |

  • HI Cassie! Not really sure who will see this…but I tohught I’d comment anyway… my family has thought a LOT about this! There are pros and cons to going on short term missions!! And the things you mentioned are things we’ve thought about…A LOT! However, it is through a short term mission trip to Zambia, God revealed to my parents that we should move to Zambia for a longer term! As someone who is living in Africa long-term, I have to be careful and not be cynical about “short-term teams”. I think the “teams” is what really is hard for me!! Because there are teams of 10 people coming spending $20,000 and what are they really accomplishing?? That $20,000 could’ve been MUCH better spent from the other side of the world! BUT, then I think back to my parents’ short term trip and realize I don’t have the right to judge, because what if God was truly leading these people to come??
    Getting away from my own opinions: It’s very important to check your heart about WHY you are going! Just like the things you mentioned…BUT I think it REALLY can be beneficial for teens to go on these trips! And, I think they really can do some good! I think it’s one thing God can use to get our hearts in the right place….Not that he can’t do that from home, but for me….It took being here and seeing things for myself to REALLY grasp certain things and come to grips with certain realities!
    Ultimately, I can’t give you the answer….Only God can! It’s not one of those questions that has an all-around “yes” or “no” answer! What each person, individually, must do is pray about it and ask God what he is calling THEM to do!!! There’s a way to do short-term missions right; and there’s a way to do them wrong…I can promise you, the MOST IMPORTANT aspect, is to be in tune with God’s leading in your life: in your hometown, while on a short-term missions trip, before you go…ALL THE TIME! HE will lead you where he needs you!
    Here’s an article that we have found INCREDIBLY helpful!!! ..I think the first point she gives may not ALWAYS be the answer…but anyway, it’s somthing to consider… =) Points 6&7 are two that I think a lot of people fail to consider!! #7 is way too true…and #6 is REALLY important!

  • Hey Cassie, so for sending a teen on a missions trip, I would say that yes it is a good idea. you do raise some good concerns though, not knowing what to do when you come back, not realizing you can do the same things at home, and the financial side of things. I have have been on a missions trip recently and after the week of service, I felt bored, and didn’t know what to do spiritually. but after about 5 days I got back into the right mindset. Also one thing some people don’t realize is that missions trips don’t have to be far away. The one I went on was just to a lager city about one and a half hours away. We still were able to make an impact on a community, only this one was closer. Also if the trip is closer it will cut down the costs immensely. Hope that helped!

  • I know both sides of this issue have been heavily debated, but after wrestling with the controversies of short-term missions trips and then deciding to go on one, I wanted to share 3 reasons why I found going on a short-term missions trip beneficial:

    1. To show tangible support to the missionaries. When missionaries are ministering in a foreign place, with likely few Christians around them, it can be quite encouraging to have people from back home come to help you, if only for a brief period of time. It shows that they believe in the work you are doing there, and it can bring fresh energy and perspective, especially if a missionary is getting discouraged or tired.

    2. To allow God to change me. Yes, God can work in me at any time and anywhere- I have no doubt about that. But there’s something special that happens when you are drastically uprooted from your comfort zone and placed in an unfamiliar, often scary situation. I think that is why mission trips are often where God grabs people’s attention. He is the One who stays constant no matter where we are in life.

    3. To impact the people that the missionaries are trying to affect. Whether you are teaching a VBS, giving out bibles, building a school, or evangelizing on the street, you being there are one more person that can make a difference in the place you’ are working. Your presence allows that extra conversation with a child, or an extra bible handed out, or an extra nail to be hammered, or an extra soul to be prayed for.

    All that said, of course the decision needs to be covered with prayer, and motivations must be right. It’s also important to have good follow up after a trip, so that everything you learned can continue to be applied at home.

  • I think there is room for improvement on how the modern church approaches short term missions trips. Like maybe getting the teen into a long term mission mindset FIRST. By developing a love for God’s full time missionaries, the people they serve, and the culture they live in.

  • I think short term missions can be really helpful, if done in connection with long-term missions efforts. I obviously can’t bring much change in a week, but I can use that time to encourage the local church (who will actually be able to make a real impact over time.) My church sends a team to encourage the students and staff of a bible school in MX every year and I know some of them have been a huge blessing. Hope this helps!

  • I think what it ultimately comes down to is this question: Is God calling you to go to this specific place at this particular time? I’m passionate about people going to other cultures to share Jesus, but it has to be with His direction and leading.

  • (I have not read all 170 comments so I’m sorry if I restate anything anyone else has said.) This is a question I have been debating for a while. After reading “When Helping Hurts” and “The Great Omission” (both great books, I recommend them and have included links to them on Amazon below) I think that we should not eliminate short term missions completely, but that we should think more carefully about them before we jump on a plane. Some short term trips probably do more harm than good. On the other hand I have heard people say that a short term trip was one of the things that started them on the path to full time missions. I really think that the reason for the trip has a lot to do with it. I went on a short term trip to Papua New Guinea a couple years ago. If the main purpose of the trip was to work on the projects we helped with, then what we accomplished would probably not have justified the cost. However, the main purpose of the trip was to give young people the opportunity to experience the work of Bible Translation first hand. I know that for at least four of the participants (myself included) it either started them on the path to missions or confirmed the direction they were already going. And that was definitely worth the cost. My main point is that I don’t think we can make a blanket statement whether short term mission trips are good or bad. It may be right for one person to go on a trip and be wrong for a different person to go on the same trip. So, my thoughts are that the potential participants should spend a good deal of time in prayer before signing up for a trip and the coordinators should pray to see 1. If all this available time and money should be spent on a short term trip and 2. If so, is this trip the one we should take.

    Here are the links I mentioned above.

  • My Job is to work with teenagers that want to go on a mission (I’m from Holland) and what I see is that we as adults (or young adults) have all this specific rules and longings someone should have before they can go on a mission. We don’t want to har the teenagers but I also sense some doubt about weither teenagers are looking for a high spiritual experience or really (as we call it) want to serve God. What I have learned the last 3 years is that allot of teenagers want to serve God but that they think that they are to young or not good enough. We organise missiontrips in Holland combined with workshops on how God wants all of us to serve him with the talents we received. I never had 1 teenagers that was “harmed” because of this experience. The most important thing I think is that there always needs to be someone who is willing to coach the teenager During an outreach/trip and that it is up to us to accept that if someone signs up at young age for an outreach, we soul trust in God and his plan. Just like the bible, where we Find great kings who are only 12 years old, discipels that go out alone not even 18, a strong lady, not even married and as we think under 18 with the mission to give birth to the savior.

    In my perspective it is not up to the age of someone to think in going or not going on an outreach, but it’s about the thing that is going on in someone’s heart. Don’t forget that David, Moses, Paul and Jacob had there struggles with God also before they went on there missiontrips.

  • I think there is rather a fine line. The shorter the mission trip, the less you really get out of it. A few months is preferable to a few weeks and a year or two is even better than a few months. Also, many mission trips tend to be simply vacations for a whole bunch of teens to go to some foreign country and lay on the beach, party with christian friends, mooch off some nice missionaries, sightsee…maybe hold a couple of orphans. This type of trip is very, how shall I say it…….lame? I think that mission trips should be difficult. Kids should have to work…hard. The trip should be eyeopening. Those involved should come back with a burden for the lost, with their hearts broken for the broken hearts around them….of course, this is just the idealist in me.
    These are some pros that I can see in mission trips. I think that spiritual highs in our life ARE sometime necessary. They give us a longing for closeness with God and can help us to seek Him more fully and intensely.
    #2 is a definite problem…but sometimes increased burden for lost souls and evangelical teaching can help this…as well as spiritual maturity
    #3 is also a legitimate concern. This one reason that I think a few months is better than a week or two. And it is rather sad how much is spent on these short mission trips when very little good is done for the people they visit or help. And (this is another con) it can actually be quite damaging for native people in some ways… americans come, make friends, handout food: the natives are are happy. The americans leave, the natives are abandoned by their new friends and struggle to understand why they were left….
    Anyway, this is a long comment…sorry… πŸ˜€

  • While I haven’t yet been on a mission trip, or humanitarian expedition, I am going to be attending one this coming summer. I feel like my mission here on Earth is to serve those who are in circumstances out of their control, and to give them to tools to change those circumstances. In a few years, when I start to attend college, I will be becoming a general practitioner so that I can set up a medical clinic in a third world country and spend an indefinite amount of time in that community changing the lives of the locals through service.
    The humanitarian expedition I am going on this coming summer will be to Cochabamba, Bolivia, where I and about twenty other youth will be serving and building inside of a primary school for just over two weeks. I look forward to the opportunity I will have to serve others in such an incredible way, but the thing that will have taught me the most will be here, at home. I have put in the effort to obtain the necessary $2,600 to go on this expedition. I have spent countless hours doing everything I possibly could to get that amount. Putting so much effort into the focus of serving others will make the experience I will have in Bolivia so much more worthwhile.
    I definitely think that the greatest change can often be made at home. I also think that by stepping outside of myself so wholly for the purpose of serving others will help me see the ways that I can help those around me in my own family and community.

  • I’ve only gone on one short-term trip on my own, and it was only to another state, not another country. I debated so long as to whether or not I should go — mainly because I was afraid of such a big step, rather than all the wise reasons you listed. πŸ˜‰ In the end, I ended up going. I decided to go because I was really looking at trying to invest in relationships with the people I was going to go with. That definitely happened on the trip. But the other result I hadn’t anticipated was that I REALLY had to get over my introverted self-centeredness and reach out to the people in my path no matter what I did or didn’t feel like.
    So, it wasn’t a third world event. No one was starving or dying in a trash dump city. But God used it to change me.

    International trips, though, add another layer of being awakened to the God’s Kingdom across the globe — radically different, and yet fundamentally the same, as the church in America (or wherever you’re from) — to see the Truth bigger than your little world. I know from a little experience of my own, as well as my parents’ experience, that this is an invaluable lesson to unfold.

    All that to say, I wouldn’t say there is a hard and fast formula for whether or not you should go on a mission trip. — Although I know that’s a kind of frustrating answer. There are airplane loads of teens who go on trips for all the wrong reasons and really would be better off just staying home and learning to see God where they are. But there are also countless ways God can use missions trips to open people’s eyes to all manner of lessons He is trying to teach them.

    Maybe all that to really say, what matters in a mission trip is the teen’s heart — not the trip itself. As you said, if that isn’t in the right spot right where you are, going on a mission trip isn’t magically going to make you into a new creation. Only God can do that. Ultimately, it’s about Him, not me. That internal line is difficult to determine, and that’s why the external line is so hard to draw. <3

  • The question as to whether teens should go on mission trips seems abit too generalising for me. Foreign mission work is a very personal and unique experience for every person, and should be treated as such. Personally, I would encourage each individual to study their own hearts and pray as to whether missionary work would be right for them.

    Also, I’m aware sometimes to move foreward in certain situations, such as missions, we need to metaphorically “step into the Jordan” before the way is cleared (If you are unfamiliar with this story check out Joshua 3, verse 8 is often where this term comes from). Speaking on this matter from personal experience, short-term mission work is a great way to see if you’d be called to this sort of ministry.

    Recently, I have just returned from a ten day group mission trip to the Philippines with a team from my church. I can say it was a great experience for me, and my team echoed the same feelings in conversations after our return.

    As for the concerns your friend seems to have raised they are all perfectly valid, but also equally very personal. As I said before, mission work should be pursued prayerfull and with alot of introspection. Whether or not a person’s heart is in the right place really is between that person and God, and I prefer leaving that way.

    Where the money is concerned, there is a risk here of being abit like Judas when Mary washed Jesus feet with oil (John 12:1-7). Again, if God has called a person to lead a ministry that would glorify Him abroad, I feel that no expense could be too great to spend on such trips. But again, this is all dependant on each person’s calling from God, and if they are promped rather to sponsor a native missionary instead of going themselves this would of course be the wiser choice.

    In all of this we must remember that not everyone is called in the same way or to the same ministry, and that it is entirley situational what a person should do. I would like to one last time encourage anyone considering a trip and/or ministry abroad to prayerfully seek God’s will in their own lives, even if this means waiting a while for an answer.

    Thanks for reading my massive paragraphs (sorry for that, by the way) and I pray everyone has a good day,


rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectationsβ€”a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More β†’