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Who I amReside in St. Louis Missouri currently, Lived in California & Colorado.Husband.Father.Pastor.Football Enthusiast.Teacher.Learner.Dreamer.Reader.Friend. [thoughts & comments blogged here are my reflections living life trusting Jesus as God]

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Student Ministries & Missions Part 1

I'm writing a 3 part article series for  You can check out their website by clicking here...

As long as I’ve been a youth pastor (11 years) I’ve coordinated, fought for, and led missions trips. Each trip I’ve led there has seen one key ingredient: ongoing relationships. We’ve partnered with people who have roots on the ground in the locations we go to so we can RETURN to the same spot and continue to build relationships. Our church believes in this value, and that's why we have three locations out of country, and three in our backyard we continually return to.
This summer I’m leading a team of 28 people to Masaka, Uganda, to continue a 7-year partnership our church has with a school, orphanage, and medical clinic. We are installing a playground that we removed from a school in Lakewood, California, and refurbished—as well as taking 25,000 meals for the community we’ll be in. Try shipping that across the Pacific Ocean! This isn't the easiest trip to coordinate, but it's been a blast.
I’m going to take three segments of our trip (pre, during, and post) and share with this youth ministry community aspects of each.
Pre-Trip can be summed up with DETAILS & PLANNING;
#1 Location—We are going where others have been and relationships are healthy. Teaming with a ministry that has had seven years of love, care, and energy put into it allows you to continue adding to what God is already actively doing. This also gives you the ability to look at parents with confidence and let them know this isn’t a wild or random trip that you're doing with their son/daughter. There's no such thing as “it’ll be safe,” but long-term relationships also show a long-term track record of trip experiences.
#2 Details—I have a saying I stole from someone: “Death is in the details.” The minuscule details pile up quickly and can be wearing on you. If you aren’t organized in advance, the trip will suffer—and more importantly, so will your leadership. We started planning this trip nine months prior to the date we left, and when I made a list of items that needed to be addressed prior to the day we left I had a list of 71 to-do’s. That list was given 2-3 hours of attention EVERY week for the past 9 months.
#3 Team Leaders—I interviewed and discussed at great length what it meant to be a leader on this trip, and had to turn away a couple people because of those standards. Taking teenagers halfway around the world with leaders who are solid will save you a great deal of stress. Many of these leaders have stepped up in big ways in helping with the planning of this trip.
#4 Finances—Before we had our first meeting to discuss this trip I had a baseline budget to work from. I committed to the team that I’d work to keep that baseline from increasing. From airfare, to food, to transportation, shipping cost of the playground and meals, lodging, and the miscellaneous items we kept to a budget while fundraising really hard.
#5 Team Gatherings—Our team has met once a month since October. Each meeting had discussions about the trip, team building, as well as planning. I created definite dates for the team members going for when paperwork, monies, immunizations, etc., were all due. This helped the organization process, but it also gave us plenty of time to work through details. These team gatherings also allowed complete strangers to get to know each other in advance.
#6 Prayer—If we don’t depend on the power of God, then all other points are pointless. We’ve been prayingJeremiah 33:3 through this pre-trip phase and we’ve seen God move in amazing ways, and we haven’t even put our feet on the ground of Africa yet!
Watch for an article written from UGANDA sometime between July 28-August 8th!

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