Mission Trip Prep

Rachel, Eliza and I are in Orange, Texas today. We are doing our “pre-trip;” visiting the Church and town where we will be staying for a week of CTCYM Mission Trip work next month.

This will be my 12th consecutive summer on at least one CTCYM trip.  I have enjoyed being a part of this great organization for these years, and have served at almost every level of leadership possible.

Literally thousands of youth and adults have found their own lives changed by making this effort to give a week to help (maybe change) someone else’s life.

Over the past few years I have been feeling more and more like there is something lacking at the base of this kind of experience.  The fact that we travel to someplace else to serve gets to me.  The fact that we sometimes interact very little with our clients also concerns me.  Both these factors help us to continue to think that helping others is still something we “go do” rather than a part of who we are.

That we can offer help by, in effect, swooping in, working for 1-5 days, and swoop back out, never again to have any contact causes the greatest concern for me, though.   Service and valuable, worthwhile help though this is, it allows space for us to maintain that comfort of separation and distance that lets us go on being us and them go on being them.

The truly incarnational aspect of these trips is when we who go to serve connect in a meaningful enough way that we and they are changed to see that we are all we.  The opportunity to experience this level of being is available on each and every CTCYM trip.

As Program Director for the Orange Living Center, I am making it one of my goals this summer to focus on offering this kind of connection.  I am open to suggestions.

2 thoughts on “Mission Trip Prep

  1. Steve,
    You are a thoughtful guy. I bet you could write (with the Conference’s Blessing) a guide about how to take the experience from CTCYM back to local churches. Why not write about ways that CTCYM can be a year long experience so that the one week in the summer acts as a jumping off point to get people thinking about missions in their local community.
    We have done a Sunday where for worship we went and served. We follow the news to help with local disasters. We know of our food pantries, free clinic, and other service organisations (like Salvation Army) and we partner with them.. I bet you could think of some documents for youth excited about missions to take back to their local church to make it local.

  2. How often do these “mission groups” rotate through the service center? If you provide opportunities for each group to interact with those they are serving, how many people will these “customers” interact with in a given amount of time? Is the goal of having the youth interact with these people still mainly serving the perceived needs of the youth, rather than the needs of those they come to serve?

    If the people and community need building repairs, then doesn’t it serve them best to provide building repairs? Especially when you are talking about short-term missions. It is those committed to long-term missions that are most likely to make an impact through relationships.

    Doug and I have hopes of someday doing short-term missions, providing medical and mental health services. Especially in my field, my greatest impact will likely be in training people in the community … not in establishing therapeutic relationships that will be over long before the work is completed. Doug’s greatest contribution will likely be in doing surgery … and someone else will have to be there to follow up.

    I understand that your concern in writing this post is for the youth that are doing missions — that they connect with those they serve. However, as you pointed out, “going somewhere” to “do missions” doesn’t really provide the platform for that, not for 1-5 days. If you want relationships to form, then each youth group needs to have a platform in their own community.

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