My first week at Gateway involved me putting together a mission trip. The second week at Gateway involved me going on that trip with twenty something students and a handful of leaders. The third week involved wrapping my head around our programs, meeting leaders, and observing the ministry – my brain has been stuck in week three and will be for a while.
The trip was semi-organized when I arrived. There were many details that still needed attention – a charter bus to be ordered, hotel rooms to be reserved, an hour-by-hour schedule to be thought out, food to be purchased…all this to say, I couldn’t have done it alone. I was very thankful for my part-time staff member Heather and all that she did in helping prepare for this trip. A few things we did before leaving that really helped once we arrived…
- I did a pre-trip to meet my ministry partner before taking all of the students. (It was me actually rolling through with a U-Haul in tow on my move down from Chicago.) This way I was able to see where we would be staying, see the meeting space we had to work with, etc. This paid huge dividends for planning out the trip.
- I made a booklet for the students that had a daily devotional section along with a program plan that day. This way you can exclude the 20 questions game, “What are we doing today?” “When are we doing that?”
- I ordered 5 different colors of the rubber bracelets. This divided the students and leaders into 5 smaller teams for serving and discussion groups. This can make any larger team more manageable when it comes to logistics. “Green team you are ripping up carpet, Blue team you are praying for the people in this building, etc.” This saves much more time than you would ever dream!
SERVE BRANSON. BLESS AUSTIN. This was the mindset of the trip – starting with the end in mind. Yes, we would be spending a week in a different city, how could we come back to our own city with a compelled heart to put these things into practice? We traveled to Branson, Missouri where there many serving opportunities but how could we transplant the heart for serving there back to our every day life in Austin?
- SERVING – Our ministry partner Jesus was Homeless is doing AMAZING things for the kingdom as they continue to seek out and serve those that are less fortunate. Every week this organization delivers over 700 meals to those in need, it blessed my students greatly to be a part of such a process. We also had the privilege of doing some work projects for a single mom’s resort just outside of town. This will be a refuge for mom’s that have been neglected, abused, or financially unable to support their family. River Rock Ministries offer cooking classes, Bible studies, and even a GED program for these women. I am extremely thankful for what they are doing.
- RETREAT – Gateway Branson/Jesus was Homeless was incredibly generous with their space. While they were not using it, we were able to have sessions for learning, team-building, discussion groups, games, and worship. These 2+ hour sessions each day brought on the retreat feeling and really helped in unifying our team’s ministry philosophy and allowed our group to dig into God’s Word each day together. I took them through the acronym BLESS that had been unveiled to me by our Senior Pastor John Burke…we have been blessed to be a blessing to others.
- B – Be in prayer.
- L – Listen and Look for opportunities.
- E – Eat. Share meals with others.
- S – Serve. Serve your neighbor.
- S – Share. Share your story & God’s story with others.
- FUN – Branson is a tourist trap for sure! Being there a week, you will not run out of things to do. We spent a whole evening making our rounds to different go-kart tracks, putt-putt golf, bumper boats, etc. Branson is located near many lakes. Take your pick of beaches, boat rentals, and restaurants. Did I mention the huge landlocked Titanic? No, I’m not making this up.
This was the perfect trip for my students, especially for my leaders. Branson gave me a good opportunity to exercise the work hard, play hard philosophy for youth ministry. I am so proud of my students and leaders in all that they did, but more importantly how God show up in them and used them to love others.
If you ever need help talking through ideas for your mission trip, I’ve been on a few…all of them have offered something different. This was the perfect hybrid mission trip. I’d love to help you talk through obstacles, desires and connect you with great ministry partners. Just reach out!
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