Parents' Part in Mission Trips

You might not be going on your son or daughter’s mission trip, but as a parent you play an important role in the way they experience their trip after it’s over! You see, a big part of the mission trip experience is what a student does with the trip after it’s over. How will they apply what they’ve learned? How will it change the way they act? How will it impact their relationship with God? As a consistent presence in your teenager’s life, you can continue the influence of the trip well beyond your student’s return. Use the following ideas to help your student connect service in another community with life back home.

Processing Ideas

Processing is not an interrogation but – as its name suggests – part of a process you can invite your student into. Here are some ideas to enrich your conversations.

Take part in processing. Research shows that youth most benefit from a two-way conversation where the parent shares their story with the teenager. While you don’t want to dominate the conversation, be willing to answer the same questions your teenager is. It is valuable for them to see your faith in process.

Spread it out. While it might be easy to think of processing as a one-time event to check off the list, thinking through what happened and figuring out how to apply it will take time. Remember, it’s a process! So keep asking questions. Keep thinking back and looking forward with your student.

Find a safe space. The setting of your conversation matters. Pick a comfortable place where your student can feel safe sharing important things. And time is an even more important factor. Find a space where he or she doesn’t feel rushed or preoccupied.

Talk in transit. Make the most of your drive times by asking students questions while driving. Maybe make it a point to have a “question of the drive” each day. Take time to truly listen and share your own answer to each question.

Make an event. Churches will often have an event where students get to share about their mission trip. Have an event that focuses just on your student. It could be just your family, or you could include friends or extended family. Going out for dinner, gathering for a living room conversation or simply grabbing coffee together can all ascribe value to what was just experienced.

Write it down. If your student is a writer or keeps a journal, have them write down what they experienced and encourage them to share it. Consider sending a letter to supporters and friends.

Create a tradition. Try finding a time each day or each week where you talk with your student. The days following their mission trip are a great time to launch a new tradition.

JUST LISTEN! There are some great ideas on this page, but if you do nothing else, make sure you just take time to listen to your student after their mission trip. And really pause to listen well! Often after mission trips, students have hours of stories, ideas and questions, but the people in their lives give them only minutes of attention. Life-change might launch on a mission trip, but what happens during the days after determine if that change will travel with them. Seek to be part of the positive life-change your student can experience after his or her trip.

Followup Questions to Ask

  • What was most exciting?
  • What surprised you on your trip?
  • What was the most important thing you learned?
  • What were the three biggest things you did on this trip that you’ve never done before?
  • Where did you see God during your trip?
  • What did you miss most about home?
  • How did God open your eyes during the trip?
  • What made you angry? Sad? Happy?
  • Who is one person you met that you won’t forget?
  • In what ways did you need to rely on God?
  • How did the way you see others change during your trip?
  • What is something you think you should do now that the trip is over?
  • Why do you think God wanted you to go on this trip?
  • How did this trip change you?
  • What part of the trip helped you get to know Jesus better? In what ways did you get to know Jesus better?
  • What did you learn about yourself on this trip?
  • Are there any ways we can keep serving the community you were in? How could we do that?

You can find many more questions to ask at

Process the Week with Your Student

Students benefit from being asked questions about their developing faith, but also seeing the faith of adults in practice – especially the faith of their parents. These two pages have information about YouthWorks’ summer 2018 theme: Onward. We invite you to process what your student is processing this week.

Here’s how: Read the below theme description and Scripture passage – the same passage your student will hear and discuss during the corresponding day of their mission trip. Think through the questions below. Take time to answer each question on a separate piece of paper. When your student returns, schedule a few meeting times – maybe take them out for food or coffee once a week for the next five weeks and reflect on and discuss one of the themes each day. Rereading Scripture is great repetition. This type of process could be very effective in helping them tie the mission trip experience to life back home.

“He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 1:6


SCRIPTURE: Philippians 1:6

BIG IDEA: God is moving you Onward


  • Have you ever wondered, “Why am I here?” or “Where am I headed?”
  • God’s desire is for you to progressively move forward in your faith, but at times you’re just stuck. What are the things holding you back from moving Onward with God?
  • How do you think God will challenge you this week?


SCRIPTURE: Luke 19:1-10, Matthew 9:9-13, Mark 10:13-16, John 9:1-3, Matthew 5:43-47

BIG IDEA: God is moving you Onward to fresh PERSPECTIVES


  • Everyone has different perspectives. What is one thing that you have a perspective on and you know someone else has a different perspective?
  • How do you respond to this phrase: “The way that Jesus sees things is the right and true perspective.”?
  • In Luke 19:1-10, how was Jesus’ perspective on Zacchaeus different than the crowd’s?
  • How was Zacchaeus perspective changed after he encountered Jesus?
  • How does Jesus’ perspective of you affect the way you see Jesus?
  • How is God changing the way you see others?


SCRIPTURE:Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 12:29-31, Mark 1:40-42, Matthew 9:35-38, Matthew 20:29-34, John 2:13-17

BIG IDEA: God is moving you Onward to fulfilled PASSIONS


  • What are your thoughts on this description of passions?
    • Passions are things we care about combined with emotions that cause you to act.
  • Do you think emotions matter when it comes to service? Why or why not?
  • If Jesus had been without emotion, do you think he would have been as effective at helping people? Why or Why not?
  • Have you noticed any type of service you feel strongly about? Or is there a group of people you really enjoy serving?
  • Where have you found yourself thinking, “I care about this.”?
  • How might God use your passions to serve people?
  • How do you think God has shaped your passions this week?
  • What’s one way you can serve people at home?


SCRIPTURE: Matthew 25:14-30, Matthew 4:18-22, Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 10:17-22

BIG IDEA: God is moving you Onward to new POSSIBILITIES


  • In saying Yes to God, He opens you to new possibilities. When have you experienced new things because you said yes to God?
  • In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-31) The master entrust 3 servants with talents. 2 of his talents are good stewards and one is not. What are the talents in your life that God holds you responsible for? What are the opportunities that come from those responsibilities?
  • God puts us in settings for us to be Jesus. What are some places that you need to be Jesus more in?
  • How do you see God opening new doors in your community?


SCRIPTURE:  John 13:1-17, Luke 15:1-10, Luke 19:10, Matthew 9:13

BIG IDEA: God is moving you Onward to worthy PURSUITS


  • Pursuits are things that we choose to chase after. What are the things that God is calling you to pursue?
  • In what ways do you sense Jesus is chasing after you?
  • What are the things you see Jesus chasing after?
  • How does Jesus’ message of humble service to his disciples apply to your life?
  • Who around your life do you need to pursue for God more?

Friday Send Off

SCRIPTURE: Luke: 19-10, Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 25:14-30, John 13:1-17

BIG IDEA: Moving Onward back at home


May God further broaden your perspectives,

Opening your eyes wider to what is good and true,

Expanding your understanding and grace for others,

So that you see the world as Jesus does.

May God continue to ignite passions within you,

Deepening the things you care about,

Creating meaning from emotion,

So head and heart connect in beautiful symphony.

May God never stop exposing new possibilities,

Opening doors you didn’t expect,

Challenging your status quo,

So you form a faith that says, “Yes!”

May God keep on inspiring worthwhile pursuits,

Bringing your faith to your fingertips,

Placing your feet in the footsteps of Jesus,

So you are part of God’s good work in the world.

And in all your perspectives, passions, possibilities and pursuits,

May you be confident of this:

“that he who began a good work in you

will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

And finally, may you intimately know

the God who faithfully, lovingly, steadily draws you