30 Ways to Make Your Mission More than a Trip

Jesus’ invitation to serve and love others isn’t just for the trip. Your mission is much bigger. So how will you bring the mission trip experience home with you and let it become part of your everyday life? The following are just a few ideas to get you started.

Share Your Story

The story of what God is doing in and through you and the community you served is worth sharing! Bring your trip home with you in how you tell your story. Here are a few ways you might share:

  • Plan a church gathering where you tell about the meaningful memories from your trip from the front of the room. You might incorporate some of the ideas below in your sharing.
  • Rather than a play-by-play of what happened, write about a significant event on your mission trip. How did you feel? What did you learn?
  • Write a collection of moments, perhaps posting on social media or maybe simply writing on small slips of paper. Make each memory really short – perhaps just a sentence beginning with “That moment when…” Over 30 days, write 30 memories, then compile them all in one place. OR you might do this with your entire group, each person writing a couple memories.
  • Draw, paint, design or create something that does less telling and more showing. Share what that it means with the people around you.
  • Create a slideshow and share it in person or on social media.
  • Share your story by emailing it to stories@youthworks.com

Process Your Trip

Mission trips are eye-opening experiences. You might have unresolved emotions, thoughts or hopes. Don’t forget about those. One of the best ways you can make your mission extend beyond the trip is to keep wrestling with the things you experienced during your trip. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Talk about your trip. Any of the above ideas about sharing your story could apply.
  • Set aside some personal time to think or write about what you experienced.
  • Ask someone who you enjoy talking with to ask you lots of questions about your trip. THESE ARE SOME GOOD PROCESSING QUESTIONS you might ask.
  • Talk to God about the experience. Make it an ongoing conversation that includes your hopes, fears and questions.
  • Don’t be afraid of hard questions. Whether you’re in a conversation, journaling or praying, voice those difficult things that you still wonder about. There might not always be easy answers, but asking is often the beginning to deeper understanding.
  • Seek out resources that help you learn more about an issue you encountered. Look up terms online, ask around and find information on that topic. Feed your passion – or your curiosity – with good information.

Serve Others

When you think of mission trips, you probably think of service. But what if service spread beyond your trip? What if serving others was part of your everyday routine? It can be, but it takes some intentionality. Here are some ideas to get you started. You don’t need to try to do all these; just focus on one or two:

  • Ask about needs at church or school, then respond intentionally to what you hear.
  • Quit something. Sometimes service is hard because we just get too busy. Try saying “no” to something so you can purposefully say “yes” to serving others.
  • Repeat the same type of service you did on your mission trip. That might mean doing a work project for someone in need or gathering friends to lead a kids club at church or even cooking to serve others.
  • Start a community garden and share the produce with a local food shelf or even people you know.
  • Serve at home. Sometimes we forget to serve the people closest to us, but they should be the ones who best experience our love! Clean, cook or run errands for those close to you.
  • Donate your stuff. Not just what you’re tired of, but maybe something you will miss, because you know it will be a blessing for someone else to have. Serve with your stuff.
  • Invest your gifts. Identify things that you are especially good at and find a way to use those gifts to serve others.
  • Give your time. Consider who would be served well by your presence. Visit a nursing home, someone who is sick, or someone who might be lonely or in need of a good conversation. Your time is a valuable. Share it.
  • Encourage someone. Write a note or go out of your way to tell them what you appreciate about them.
  • Continue to serve the community you took a mission trip to. Speak about them in respectful ways. Consider how you can continue the relationship you began, perhaps by returning to the same community next summer… or sooner!
  • Pray for others. Consistent prayer is one of the simplest but most meaningful ways you can serve.
  • Be creative. There are infinite possibilities of ways you can love and serve others. Think outside the box to show others Jesus’ love.

Deepen Your Faith

Of all the things you could bring home with you, the most important is a deeper relationship with Jesus. Here are some ways you can deepen your faith after the mission trip is over:

  • Keep doing Devos. Setting aside a bit of time to talk with God each day may be the best thing you can do for your spiritual life.
  • Pray throughout the day. Keep having little conversations with God. As you remember that God is always listening, you will begin to recognize God’s constant presence in your life.
  • Watch for Yea God’s. Take time at the end of each day to offer praise for the places you saw God at work during your day.
  • Seek out Christian community. God created us to need each other, and our spiritual lives will be strengthened when we have others walking alongside us. Make some decisions that lead you toward others who can encourage your faith.
  • Give things up. Think about the barriers that block you from a fuller relationship with Jesus. It might be busyness or addiction or bad choices or even an attitude. Ask yourself, “What’s blocking me from a full relationship with Jesus?” and “What am I willing to give up to knock down those barriers?”
  • Follow your convictions. You might believe the poor should be fed or people should forgive or service is important, but what do your actions say? Faith that doesn’t do anything is really just a bunch of ideas. Let your faith come alive in the way that you live.

So now that you’ve read this list, what will you do? Copy, paste and print out one bullet point from this list that you want to commit to doing – or take a screen shot or write it down where you’ll see it. How is God inviting you to make your mission more than a trip?

Ideas for Service Back Home

At YouthWorks, we spend a lot of time getting to know the communities we partner with as we work to set up meaningful service partnerships. It is our privilege to partner with organizations already at work serving the needs of the people in these places. As you travel home from your mission trip, we encourage you to find places in your own community to serve. Sometimes it can be hard to find these places to serve or know where to start. Here are some ideas about how you can serve and some things to keep in mind as you set up partnerships in your own community.

You can serve in a variety of ways. For example you could…

  • Work with food and clothing banks
  • Do construction or manual labor
  • Visit nursing homes or homes for those with disabilities
  • Partner with soup kitchens
  • Serve with Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Partner with community beautification projects
  • Partner with church ministries in tutoring, VBS and facilities management

Once you find a place to serve keep these things in mind while setting up your partnership: 

  • Meet key service contacts. Get to know the staff of the organization. You will be working with them on a regular basis so it is important to build that relationship.
  • Understand their mission and vision. Take time to hear the story and history of their organization. Ask questions to help you understand their role in the community. There may be certain policies and restrictions that will limit the tasks that you take part in and it is important to respect these boundaries.
  • Find out how volunteers will be used. Ask what you will be doing so you can set your team up well for appropriate clothing to wear, what to bring, what to expect, etc. Also find out any miscellaneous tasks that need to done in case you have extra hands or finish early.
  • Clarify expectations/details. Communicate and confirm the times you will be serving and how often. Find out what staff members will be present and who will be giving an orientation to your team once you arrive. Ask about any additional details or things that you need to be aware of.

Our hope is that you won’t let your service end on your mission trip but that you will keep a lifestyle of service and find ways to serve in your own community back home. Remember that the example Jesus set was not to show you how to live for one week but year-round in every context and community – especially your own!

Remember Jesus’ words: “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

4 Things You Need To Begin A Movement

During your mission trip, you were part of something incredible – a bunch of people with a similar idea doing something great together. Now that your mission trip is over, maybe you’re still itching to be part of something bigger than you – something meaningful and incredible.

You’re not alone! People have been banding together to do great things since the beginning of time. So perhaps this is your moment to gather others and start something together. Before you dive in, check out these 4 necessary ingredients to beginning a movement.

1. A Passion

The world is full of needs, and every need is also an opportunity to serve others. But it would be impossible for you to serve everyone. The good news is that you don’t have to. While you might care about a lot of issues, there will be a few that stand out as especially meaningful to you. Your job is to figure out what those passions are.


Maybe during your mission trip you realized how much you liked talking with the elderly or playing with children or working on a house or cooking in a kitchen. God wired you a certain way, giving you desires and talents and – now – opportunities. Think through which of those opportunities you really care about, then find a way to serve through the things you are passionate about.

Questions to think more about your passion:

  • What is an issue that has affected your life that others also face?
  • What group of people do you spend time thinking about?
  • When have you felt deep compassion for others? Who were those people?
  • What unique skills do you have that could be used to help others in need?
  • What kind of service have you really enjoyed?
  • Where have you recognized a need that you want to do something about?

2. A Plan

Once you’ve landed on an issue you are passionate about, make a plan for what you’ll do. But making a plan doesn’t mean you sit in a room by yourself trying to figure out what you should do. The first step is to learn about the issue and listen for the needs of those you want to serve. If you are reaching out to a local group of people, you might even go ask them what needs they have. We often rush in too quickly, assuming we know more about the issue than the people in the middle of it. Instead, get curious and ask, then listen carefully.

Once you’ve done your research, get to work on making a plan. It’s OK to start small. You might seek to serve a few people before you serve many. You might work at meeting one need before meeting many.

Also, consider what you need to make your movement happen – that includes people, time, supplies and finances. Make a timeline for what you want to accomplish. Once you’ve begun, don’t be afraid to reassess how things are going and, if necessary, adjust your plan.

Questions to think more about your plan:

  • How can you learn more about the issue you are passionate about?
  • What are some great questions you can ask to find out what you want to know?
  • Who could tell you more about the needs of the people you want to serve?
  • What are some creative ways you can meet those needs?
  • What do you desire to be the result of your movement? Do you want it to happen by a certain time?
  • What do you need to make your plan successful and how will you acquire those things?

3. People

Of course, no movement is truly a movement without likeminded people. Once you find your passion, find others who also care about that issue. Communicate your vision; paint a picture others will follow. And start inviting.

It might be tempting to ask only people who are just like you. But most movements need people with a variety of skills and resources. While one person communicates the vision, others will pull together the details and still others will support through financial giving. In 1 Corinthians 12, the Bible says we are “many parts, but one body” – in other words, we all bring different gifts as we seek to serve and love God and others. Look for people who can compliment your movement with gifts that are different from yours.

Remember that movements keep gaining people along the way, so include some key people in planning, then keep the door open for more to join in. Even if you start small with the people you involve, dream big about what might be possible when others catch the vision.

Questions to think more about bringing people onboard:

  • Who should you involve in your planning process?
  • What kind of skills do you need to help turn your plan into action?
  • What are some ways you could make your invitation heard? What platforms do you have?
  • Who are some people who also care about this issue?
  • Who are the people who want to support you, whatever the cause?

4. Prayer

If you really want your movement to be full of authentic love, make sure you constantly keep Jesus at the center. Leading a movement is not about being out front, but about putting Jesus’ compassion on display. Let go of any needs you have to be the center of attention, and turn that attention toward Jesus.

One of the best ways to do this is to pray at every step of the way. Ask God to drive your passion, to be in your planning and to help you gather people. Listen for God’s direction and be willing to follow.

Questions to think more about prayer:

  • What’s your motivation for serving others?
  • What is Jesus inviting you to do?
  • How can you be like Jesus in the ways you serve others?
  • How can you keep Jesus at the center of your movement?
  • How can you make prayer a part of recognizing your passions, making a plan and gathering people?

Using Your Service Story To Build Partnerships

Serving others is all about building relationships with those you serve, but also those you serve with. How can you invite more people to be a part of your service project back home? Here are three steps to sharing your story and help others to serve alongside you.

1. Know your story.

Your service project is not just a project. It’s a story of how God is using you to make a difference in your community. Take some time to look back on what has happened in the lives of your youth group and those whom you have served, and look for the beautiful story that God is writing through it. People love stories and will be eager to join your cause if they can get a picture of what you are doing and how you are helping the community. When you ask others to be involved, think of creative ways you can help them know your story and want to join it.

“The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.”  –Harry Goddard

2. Share your story.

You’ve now had some time to think about your service story and are ready to share it with others. But who should you share it with?

The Servers: Take some time to research what groups or organizations are passionate about your cause or those you are serving. Are there ways you could work together to increase your impact in the community? Here’s Gabi & Josh’s story of how partnering with others in their community helped them serve better:

“With our project, our partnership with our Orphan Ministry
helped us know the need in our community. Finding someone who has knowledge of the needs helped us figure out what we can do. We had an instant connection to the Department of Children’s Service through our Orphan Ministry.”

The Wannabe Servers: Just like you, there are many people in your church and community that want to serve others but might not know how. You can help others serve by simply asking them to join your project! Wannabe servers are hiding everywhere: at your church, at the local hardware store, at your school, in your family… Here’s another story from Gabi and Josh of how sharing their service story with people at their church and at the local craft store led to some great partnerships.

“Sharing our story with our church allowed us to tap people with different resources. A member of our church was able to help us in a big way by providing discounts at Joann Fabrics. We also were able to spread the word to people outside of our church community while at Joann’s. Some people were really interested in why we were buying three carts worth of fabric. We got to share the story with five different people!”

3. Invite others into your story.

When you share your service story with others, let
them know how they can be a part of it! Giving specific opportunities of how others can join your project will make it easier for them to partner with you. Here are four ways people can give to your project:

  • Time. Many hands make light work! After sharing their story at church, a group from Gabi and Josh’s church volunteered to cut the blankets in advance of their blanket-tying workday.
  • Talent. There might be parts of your project that need an expert opinion. By sharing his story at church, Trent got connected with
a married couple that had started a community garden nearby. Trent shared, “They provided great insight in how to get started on our community garden, planting techniques and how to pick a location.”
  • Treasure. Some people might want to be a part of your project by giving financially. This can be done through giving money, but also by donating supplies or offering discounts. Trent received free lumber for his community garden beds and Gabi and Josh received coupons and scissors saving them over $500!
  • Tickers (aka: hearts). Never underestimate the power of prayer. Praying for your team, project and those you serve is an important way others can contribute to your project.

Perhaps, like Trent, Gabi and Josh, you have a service story
of how loving others might or already has affected your community. We’d love to hear the story of what you’re doing in your community. Share it with us by messaging YouthWorks on Facebook or emailing us at STORIES@YOUTHWORKS.COM

3 Ways to Put a Little Money Toward a Lot of Service

Service in your own community doesn’t always take money… but sometimes it does! And when it does, you’ll want to consider a few important things with how you’ll get, spend and keep track of money for a service projects. These are three simple ways you can make the most of your opportunity to invest money wisely in service projects back home.

1. Do Your Research.

First, identify what you really need for your project. Think through whether you need to purchase all new supplies or if there are items you can borrow from your church, members of the congregation or other places in town.

Once you have your shopping list, think through what store will give you the best bang for your buck. Compare prices. Also, consider how much you need of everything. It is easier and cheaper to buy more later than it is to return items.

Lastly, your church might be registered with the state to allow it to be exempt from sales tax on purchases. This could save you quite a bit of money. A church staff member should be able to provide you with this information and help you with the process.

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count cost, whether he has enough to finish it?” –Luke 14:28

2. Ask for Donations.

It is great to be able to serve your community through your project. Many people in your community probably wish to have that same opportunity, but don’t know how to serve! Asking for donations is a great way to share the gift of service with others in your community.

Donations do not have to be cash. Someone can donate supplies, give you a discount at their store or donate their time and skills. Think through what supplies and professional skills are needed for your project and if there are people you know who could serve alongside you through donations.

If someone does donate to your project, be sure to thank them properly! Sending them a thank you note with an update of how their gift was used for the project is a great gesture.

“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” –Acts 20:35

3. Keep Track of Your Expenses.

Keep a thorough record of what you are spending money on, where you are spending it and how much you spent. Keep all receipts in a safe place so you have a record of how the money was used, plus you’ll need them to make any returns.  Keeping a detailed record of your finances has two big benefits. First,
it helps you to make wise decisions with your money – by keeping track of your expenses, you will be able 
to know if you have enough money
 to finish your project and prevent overspending. It will also give you
a benchmark for how much certain supplies cost, so that you know if new purchases are a good deal or not.  Finally, keeping a good record of expenses is a way to be above reproach. Having documentation and receipts of how you used your money shows others that you have used it honestly and understand the money is not yours, but God’s.  As you dive into your project, be aware that the money you have is a gift that you can invest wisely in what God is doing in and through you and the people around you.

“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” – Titus 1:7

How To End a Service Initiative Well

4 Steps to Take

Sometimes a project should carry on. Often an initiative needs to be tweaked. And occasionally service projects need to be put to rest. Although some ways of doing service live on in a community for generations, others are meant only for a season. It’s OK to end one thing to make room for something new, but when you end, finish well!

If you’re thinking about closing out a service initiative, these are four steps you’ll want to take.

1. Process

Think through the service experience you’ve had. Before making decisions about what to do next, review what’s happened and celebrate successes. That means you may want to start with a few simple questions: What did I see happen? What did I learn? What worked? What didn’t? What surprised me? How did this experience change me?

Most importantly ask, how and where did I see God move in my own life? The lives of my friends? The lives of those I served? The community around me?

2. Celebrate

We have parties to celebrate birthdays, receptions to celebrate weddings and parades to celebrate victories. Why in the world would we not celebrate what God has done? This isn’t about boasting in we’ve done or lifting ourselves up. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be a public celebration, but it is important to take time to celebrate the amazing work of Jesus in and through our own lives and the lives of others. When we give praise to God, we are worshiping. We worship God when we sing God’s name, when we serve in God’s name, and also when we celebrate in God’s name!

3. Look Ahead

Projects end, so it’s a good thing people aren’t projects! Relationships carry on… especially those that are glued together through shared faith in Jesus. While your service initiative might be coming to an end, take some time to think about who God has brought together in the midst of it. Maybe it’s somebody you served or someone who served you. Or maybe it’s someone you served alongside. Anyway you shake it, God has a way of using shared experiences – especially those that serve others – to bring people together in amazing ways. Who has God brought you close to? If your project is over, how might those new friendships carry on in new ways? How could you intentionally invest in these friendships moving forward?

4. Carry On

While projects do end, the work of God is never ending. With this in mind, how should we think about
our project now that it’s drawing to a conclusion? Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything – even a time for some good things to come to an end. A few thoughts to ponder…

  • Is it time for the project to come to an end? Why? Why not?
  • Or is it time for the project to carry on in a new way? And if so, how?
  • How might God take what has been accomplished and use it to build something for the next season of ministry – not only for the project but also in your own life and in the lives of those you’ve served?

Remember, “finishing well” doesn’t mean giving up. It means looking forward to what’s next. Thank you for what you have already done! Now start asking the best question of all: “What’s next?”