I recently had a discussion with my brother in law about mission trips. They make me feel so icky. I am all for getting youth involved in service, and I think the church is the best place for that, but you don’t have to go anywhere to do it. And spending all the money to get a group of youth plus chaperones to a fun/exotic/exciting location is so wasteful.
His argument was that the mission trips are what gets kids to come to youth group.
Wait, what? Is that what youth groups are now? A recruiting tool for themselves? By the time you’ve planned the trip, recruited people for it (purportedly people new to the group), and raised funds for the trip, you’re starting next year’s journey already. Do you have time left over to learn about the nature of God? Like how to serve the people already in your life?
As a Christian, my mission is all day, every day. I firmly oppose the idea that Christian service is something you do for a day or two on a trip once during the summer way back in high school. I mean, realistically, are these trips building any good habits?
Or are they just a way of showing off for your church? Are they just a socially acceptable way to brag? Sanitized gloating.
Working for a few hours on a week long trip is not about serving Christ. It just isn’t. Serving Christ is so much bigger.
Personally, I entered church after the age of the mission trip. (Apparently, I am too old to serve outside the church. Now when I ask about service I am referred inward – to the church itself.) The hubster has been on plenty. Some church trips masquerade as service oriented, some don’t bother with the facade. But after what he’s seen he doesn’t plan on sending our kids on any.
Maybe we’ll find a church that gets it right. That goes on a service trip with no detours to DisneyWorld. (Is Disney World one word? Two? ) That goes to serve God by serving others without using service as a pretense.
That’s all I’m asking for people. A church that doesn’t center youth activities around things that make me feel icky.