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When Should You Take an International Mission Trip with your youth group?

“When is the right time for me to go to ‘the ends of the earth’ and lead an international mission trip for my youth group?”

When and how to lead your students on a mission trip are great questions with lots of variables so there is no blanket answer. Here are a few things you should consider before choosing to embark on a mission trip. 

  1. Have you already gone to Jerusalem and Samaria with your teens?

Jesus calls us first to minister to our local community before we go to the nation and world. These experiences build off one another. A missional lifestyle starts at home. As a youth pastor, are you putting into place intentional opportunities for your students to serve their community and share their faith? These are great stepping stones to international mission work preparing students to be comfortable sharing their faith before they are thrust into an experience where everything is new and different. 

Maybe consider a domestic mission trip first? Check out our domestic mission trip opportunities through Servant Life

2. How spiritually mature are your teens?

When students are overwhelmed on a trip, it can be hard to do short-term mission trips well because all your energy goes into caring for your students – not caring for the community you’re trying to serve. Know your students well and have a plan in your ministry where students grow together possibly serving in their local community, then a domestic trip, and finally before graduation an international trip. Think of ways you can help your students grow intentionally without throwing them in the deep end. 

3. Do you have the bandwidth to prepare your teens well for an international mission trip experience?

Any ministry event takes planning and resources, but an international mission trip requires even more preparation. Paperwork, airfare, passports, and more need to be nailed down. The team at Servant Life can help with training materials and planning but you will want to make sure you have set aside time to adequately prepare.

4. How prepared are your chaperones? 

Going on an international mission trip requires dedicated adult chaperones who are engaged in your ministry and understand your students. An exciting part about any mission trip is how your students themselves are ministered to during the week. Traveling internationally can have many complications so you will want adult chaperones well prepared to serve on the ministry site, care for your students physically and spiritually, and be ready to respond to any situation that might come up. 

5. What’s your motivation for going international?

While international mission trips are fun, adventurous, and an opportunity to see new sites and cultures, ultimately, we are there to show the love of Christ and serve alongside missionaries in their ongoing work. For that to happen, you’ve got to understand your group and know how they can best be used on the international mission field. Make sure you understand the work the missionaries you are engaged with will be doing and how you can help your students plugin alongside them. Flexibility and a willingness to adapt to the needs of the ministry is key. We are only on a mission trip for a short time, the missionaries are there long term. We need to help them succeed!

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