Dealing with the Differences

During your mission trip week, you were probably asked a few times how you would take the experience home with you. Your mission of loving others and loving Jesus is not just a one-week experience with your youth group. It keeps going when you get home! But there are a few important ways that following Jesus back home is different than following Jesus on a mission trip. As you read, think about how you can adapt what you experienced in the community you served to love others at home.

Provided Community vs. Purposeful Community

Provided Community

People were everywhere during your mission trip week. You probably hardly had time to yourself! From the moment you got into the van for the trip to the time you reached home, you had lots of people around. Plus, you all united for a common cause - loving Jesus and others. It is awesome to have people hear by to talk to, serve beside and laugh with. God made us for relationships with others.

Purposeful Community

Most days, you probably won’t wake up in a room of people sleeping on air mattresses. And you probably won’t eat meals with 50 of your friends. But even though you aren’t constantly in a group of at least three people, you can still have awesome unity back home, but it won’t just happen. You need to be purposeful about uniting with people who love Jesus and love you. In fact, service, faith and change all happen way better when you’re around others who are encouraging you toward Jesus. The group of people you came with is a great place to start. As you continue to read, thing about how others play a part in continuing what you started on the mission trip.

Structured Projects vs. Lots of Possibilities

Structured Projects

When we invited you to serve, love and learn from a community, you showed up! We found people, places and projects, and you welcomed people in, hung out, cleaned up and served. We lined up projects, and you worked with whatever was put in front of you, even if it was a brand-new experience. It’s pretty cool to make yourself available for whatever job needs done.

Lots of Possibilities

At home, you probably won’t have everything planned out for you. If you want to love the people around you, like Jesus invites you to, you’ll need to seek out ways to serve. The great thing is you get to choose how you’ll serve. So, if you thrive at physical work, you can ask who needs some help with their yard. Or if you love having conversations, you can figure out who might be lonely and need a visit. While it will take more initiative on your part, having the flexibility to choose how you’ll serve can be a great opportunity for you to find something you’re passionate about.

Set-Aside Time with God vs. Your Crazy Schedule

Set-Aside Time with God

Going on a YouthWorks trip can sometimes simplify things. The schedule is laid out with built-in times for Devos, worship music, theme videos, processing and service. It’s easier to follow Jesus when the pressure of everyday life is far away, and you have people who are encouraging your faith. Sometimes, we need time away to refocus on God and others. Hopefully, with all the things you did during your mission trip, you took time to focus your heart on your relationship with Jesus and what he wants for your life.

Your Crazy Schedule

Cell phones, video games, homework, friends, Snapchat, parents, practices, shopping, events… Did we miss anything? Of course we did! Because your life is probably pretty busy back home. So busy that it could be wasy to let what you learned on your mission trip slip into the background. But the God who created the world with a few words but also knows every hair on your head wants one-on-one time with you! In the midst of all the important things, don’t forget the one most important thing – your devotion to a totally loving, all-powerful, completely good God. Consider how you will continue taking time out of your day to get to know God better.

Temporary Outreach vs. Long-Lasting Lifestyle

Temporary Outreach

During your mission trip, you were a visitor in someone else’s community. You had less than a week to love, serve and you probably got to do that in some pretty incredible ways. But continuing to serve this community will be challenging. You are leaving this setting behind, and you could easily forget the people and relationships here. But you don’t have to! We hope you find ways to continue the relationships you’ve made, like coming back to serve this community again.

Long-Lasting Lifestyle

Every community has struggles. Every community needs Jesus’ love. That includes your home community. Think about the people you served during trip: kids, elderly people, homeowners, those in need… Imagine they live down the street from your house or just across town. Well…they do! At least, people who face some of the same struggles do. And they need the love of Jesus.
You don’t live in the community you just served, but you do live in a community full of people who have needs you can help meet. And you can keep meeting those needs for much longer than just one week. Just as there is a reason God sent you to serve in a different community for a week, God also has a purpose and plan for you in your own community.

Setting Out vs. Keeping on

Setting Out

Did anything change in you this week? Did you learn something about Jesus? Did you understand something about God’s plan? Did you feel alive? Did you let something go? Did you think of a group of people you need to love more? What changed?

We hope something began for you this week. We hope Jesus is doing something incredible in your life. We hope you have set out on a new adventure. Take some time to think and talk about what new thing might be starting in you. Tell a friend or leader your story about what’s beginning. We’d love to hear your story too! You can email it to

Keeping On

Ever heard of a “mountaintop experience”? You feel like everything is awesome and change is happening… and then “real life” hits you, and everything goes back to normal. Often, mission trips can be a spiritual high point where faith and service and love and unity all mesh together to make something incredible. The comparisons in this post are really all about how to prepare for what happens after that incredible experience.

The day-to-day schedule that we sometimes call “real life” will come back. But remember that you can find actual REAL LIFE only by following Jesus. And, yes, Jesus is absolutely in those mountaintop experiences, and those experiences can be used
 to create real, lasting change! But Jesus is also walking alongside you in the valley through all your boring, hard, stressful, painful experiences. As you move forward from this mountaintop experience, how will you continue to seek the REAL LIFE Jesus offers? In the valleys, how will you continue to live out the change God is beginning in you?