Dear Parent Whose Child Does Not Want to Go on the Mission Trip -
I know your family has hundreds of worthwhile options for how to spend it's time each summer and that you can't do it all. I can also only assume it's far easier to send your child to the camp they're dying to go to than the mission trip they want no part of. But would you please reconsider?
You know I support you when you choose not to force your teen to do church things. But just this once, I'm going to ask you to do just that: Force your child to go on the mission trip, regardless of how much they resist.
You see, on paper, a mission trip just doesn't sound as appealing to a kid as well, just about anything else. Why would your child want to spend a week serving people when they could spend it playing video games at home or white water rafting with their friends?
The answer, of course, is that if given the choice, they won't.
That's why you can't give them the choice. You just have to make them do it, knowing that the experience will be good for them and for their faith.
Because here's the deal, oh parent whose child does not want to go on the mission trip. This experience will be good for them. I've been in youth ministry for 13 years now and every summer, I've taken a kid like yours on our summer mission trip. And you know what? That's typically the kid most impacted by the trip.
On mission trips, teens encounter Jesus. Stretched out of their comfort zone and asked to try new things, teens learn to depend on him in very real ways. Exponential spiritual growth results.
On mission trips, teens learn the world is bigger than them and that other people's problems are oftentimes more significant than theirs. Not only do such realizations provide them with valuable perspective, but it also helps strip away some of their consumerism and narcissism.
On mission trips, teens learn how to put their faith into action. I know that one of the reasons why you're frustrated by the fact that your child doesn't want to participate in the mission trip is because it matters to you. Faith matters to you. And because it does, you desperately want it to last in your teen's life. The truth is, however, that the formation of sticky faith requires more than just knowledge; It requires action. On mission trips, teens learn how to live out their faith in very real ways. As they do, they begin to see how consequential it can be because of the difference it can make not just in their lives, but in the lives of others.
To be clear, the aforementioned reasons are meant to convince you – not your teen – of the importance of our summer mission trip.
If you feel like you need to convince your teen of the importance of this trip, here's all you need to say: It'll be fun.
It will be. I promise.
In fact, I'll make that promise even if your teen doesn't know anyone else going on this trip. Even if he's the only person from his grade or the only boy going on the trip, he'll still have fun.
Mission trips are – by design – fun.
Serving others is fun. I've seen far too many teens laughing and smiling while learning new construction skills or playing with homeless kids to convince me otherwise.
Serving others also makes you feel good and that, too, is fun.
And even if your teen gets on the bus not knowing a soul, that's not how it'll be when they return. A week of living together, serving together, playing together, and worshiping together fosters relationships in a way that few other things do.
The teen you have to force onto the bus at the beginning of the week will be the same one you have to drag off the bus when we return home. And when you do finally pull them out of it, they'll have friends in tow and a smile on their face.
I know because I was that teen my first mission trip.
And to this day, I'm glad my parents signed me up and forced me to go.
So parent whose child does not want to go on the mission trip, will you do us both a favor and stop debating this and simply sign your kid up?
Trust me, you won't regret it. And neither will he.
Your partner in ministry -
Your Youth Pastor