Short Term Youth Mission Trips

Missionary Preparation

Your home town USAWhy would a high school student, college student or adult ask for thousands of dollars of donations from friends and family to go on a short term foreign mission trip when they have no experience sharing the gospel with others?

I have seen first hand, individuals travel half way around the world on a mission trip, and then wasting the money spent to send them there because they were to shy to share the gospel with strangers. I have also seen where a young lady went on a mission trip, not to share the gospel, but so that she could be near the young man who was leading the youth mission trip.

If you’ve never read Acres of Diamonds, it’s something you should do and is a valuable lesson that before we travel great distances to search for something of value, we should start by looking in our own backyard.

My son recently graduated high school. There were 368 students in his graduating class. The school advertised that they were having a baccalaureate service a few days prior to graduation. A baccalaureate service is basically a church service held for a graduating class. Of the 368 students in my son’s class only 30 came to the baccalaureate. That equals only 8% of the class. However, all 368 attended the graduation, which serves as evidence of their priorities.

Let’s assume that those who did not attend the baccalaureate do not have Christ as a priority in their lives, (it’s a broad assumption but I’m illustrating a point.) Right here in our own home town, within the very class rooms of my son’s high school, 92% of his fellow students do not consider Jesus Christ a priority in their lives.

Each time a group of people from the United States, gets on a plane to fly to a foreign country for a short term mission trip, during their flight they are passing over millions of people who need to hear the gospel.

I am not saying that people should not go on short term foreign mission trips, rather what I am saying is that before any person raises thousands of dollars of other people’s money to go on a foreign mission trip, there should be some proof that the person is capable of effectively sharing the gospel with others. That proof should come in the form of having regularly shared the good news with people in his or her own home town. It can cost thousands of dollars to go on a foreign mission trip but it costs almost nothing to go somewhere in your own town to share the gospel.

I’m also making a point here about evangelism itself. Why do many of today’s Christians think that sharing the gospel is something that only happens one week per year and that happens only in foreign countries? If you have any inclination to go on short term youth mission trips, you should do your missionary preparation by going on a one hour mission trip right now, this very day, in your own town. And then do the same tomorrow and the next day, and the day after that.

Imagine for a moment that you live in Africa. You attend a church in Africa. One day your pastor announces that they are putting together a mission trip to go to the United States. You sign up for the trip. At the first meeting the pastor tells your group that you will be traveling to (insert your city and state here). When you arrive, you’re objective will be to share the gospel with the people that live there.

Now that you have that scenario imagined in your mind, figure out what you are going to do upon your arrival. You’ve spent thousands of dollars for airfare travel and hotel accommodations to come to the United States for this mission trip. For the next seven days it’s your mission to go out and share the gospel with others.

Photo credit: flickr Creativ Commons, Hollywood Bypass by Elliott Brown