“Hey, can I talk to you? I don’t think I can go on the mission trip.” Words every youth leader dreads! You’re busy finishing up all the plans for a summer mission trip and one of your students drops this bomb…
Here’s a couple ideas to help the follow up conversation and help that student see how much they will be mission out by not going.
- Try a personal invitation instead of asking “Why?” Sit down, talk with her or him, and tell them specifically why you want them on the trip. Focus what you see in them – what you believe they have to offer the trip experience. Their gifts, talents, skills, and abilities. Each one of your students has something that any mission trip will miss if they don’t go.
- Help them understand what they will get out of the experience. A mission trip is a life changing event. There are life skills that are built into the mission trip any teenager will benefit from learning. Students gain new abilities to understand people and increase their relationship skills as they meet new and different people. They will learn leadership skills as they take on new responsibilities. Sometime during the trip they will discover their ability to learn new skills. They may get the chance to build something for the first time including using tools they never thought they’d use. They could learn to share their faith with a complete stranger giving them confidence to speak in front of others. A mission trip is a stretching experience far more than whatever is competing with their time and keeping them from going.
- Don’t forget the fact that they will miss out on encountering Jesus in new, fresh, and powerful ways. There is no experience that connects us to Jesus like a mission trip. None of us ever want any student to miss out on that. You’ve been praying for them. Praying about what God wants to do in their life as part of this mission experience. Tell them that.
These are not “magic” answers to the problem of a student backing out the mission trip. There are no easy answers. But, these will most likely be more effective then telling them they made a commitment and they have to keep it or guilty them into still going. If you believe that God has a reason for each student attending the trip (and I believe that you do), believe that God will use your words and passion and care in a conversation like this to help a student remain engaged and go on your trip.
We’re praying for you! God bless your mission trip this summer.