Archives For Mission Trips

I’ve taken over a thousand students on mission trips in the last 14-years, and I’ve seen the best and the worst of mission trip experiences. From my perspective, here are four ways mission trip experiences can be intentional and valuable.

  1. The process is more discipleship than event
    Early on in ministry, I naively prepared students solely for a week long event. We learned dramas, songs, and how to say bathroom in Spanish. A friend introduced me to a process that made disciples and not just prepared people for a trip. It’s transformed my approach to training teams.
  2. Partner with a church for multiple years
    Relationships are the glue that bind our spiritual experiences. When these relationships are exercised consistently over time, a beautiful picture of the body of Christ is woven and displayed.
  3. Partner for strategic ministry, not just ministry activity
    I’ve done the mission trip tour from one town to the next and one activity to the other. We call those places a “mission trip factory” where teams are often received out of a sense of duty because of partnership rather than out of strategic initiative. The best trips are those that strategically contribute to the lifeblood of a local church.
  4. Not a father, but a partner
    Much has been written about paternalistic missions. We’re experiencing a paradigm shift from teams thinking they arrive to teach a missionary/pastor/church how to do ministry to teams showing up to serve the needs of a church…together. My best experience with mission trips have been when our teams have realized we are not bringing Jesus to people. He was already there. We’re partnering in a place God is already working.

If you’re interested in partnering with a local church to engage in strategic ministry to the lifeblood of it’s existence, then grab a Better Together LA Mission Team Packet and let’s talk about what God is doing in Los Angeles.



ML Initials

Global Year

Student Pastor Friends,

There’s been a great burden stirring in my heart for over 10 years in the area of students and missions.  I believe this is the generation that could exceed the Student Volunteer Movement of the late 1800s – early 1900s and can change the shape of Christianity.  I want to spend my life working towards that compelling vision.

God in His Providence landed me in what I believe to be one of the greatest missions sending churches in the world with a Pastor who leads that vision.  Over the last ten years, Woodstock has launched over 100 students to an intentionally focused year of discipleship and evangelism after high school graduation.  I’m thrilled that our seniors will be headed to Ireland, Costa Rica, East Asia, El Salvador, South Africa, and Italy.  I believe next year’s class will be one of the largest we have ever launched around the globe for Global Year with many from the class of 2013 responding to that opportunity.

All that to say…I want to introduce you to the vehicle through which we are currently sending these students. Johnny Condrey is a friend who has given over 30 years of his life to the trenches of Youth Ministry. He leads Global Year, and I would encourage you to explore this possibility. The proof is in the pudding for Johnny. He and his wife have sent four of their own for a year overseas after graduation. One is currently a missionary on furlough in Southeast Asia.

Below is a letter from Johnny. Call or email me with questions. I want to join with you in fulfilling Matthew 24!


Johnny CondreyI would love to take a few minutes to share with you how I can help you and your church address the massive exit of the young people from our churches today and mobilizing our church to the nations. If you are interested in sending your students to the nations for His glory, let me help you! You can reach me on my cell phone at 404-276-0207 or email

If I can help you in any way launch students to a Global Year, don’t hesitate to contact me as well.




Guest Blog Post: Jeff Borton is the Pastor to Students at Christ Fellowship in Miami, FL as well as the co-author of Simple Student Ministry with Eric Geiger. Jeff’s ministry to students reflects a focused passion to launch students into the mission of God. He’s one of the best, and missions is in his wheelhouse. Follow Jeff on twitter, read his blog, or buy the book.

Student ministry and missions are synonymous.

Well, should be synonymous.

Luke 15 illustrates God’s passion for those apart from Him; we must also be passionate for lost people. Historically, God has used teenagers in phenomenal ways to advance the Kingdom.

How we choose to program our ministry (and how we use our budgets) is a clear indication of how we view the call God has given us to make disciples. We aren’t called to teach students to be good, moral people who attend church weekly, but rather passionate worshippers of Christ who embrace living missionally so that the Gospel can be heard.

In order for students to engage their world missionally, two things must happen:

Encourage students to live missionally.

The Great Commission passages come to life in students as they are challenged to live out the message of reconciliation from Christ. (2 Cor. 5:17-20) They must hear from God’s Word why missions is important to God.

The encouragement is huge; we must challenge students to live the Gospel every moment of their lives.

Not only should we challenge them verbally, but also show them by making it a priority in our programming.

Give students opportunities to engage in mission

Our calendar is the litmus test for our ministry’s priority of missions.

Challenging students to live missionally cannot consist of talking about the Gospel and taking a yearly trip. One focused trip a year only reinforces to students what they probably already think: missions is a place you go and when you get back, you’re done.

Missions must be weaved throughout our process of disciple making.

Two ideas to consider:

Personal opportunities:

Create “invite cards” (business size) with your student ministry information for your students to carry at all times. Encourage students to use these cards to invite friends and people they meet. For many, inviting someone to church with them is huge. These invite conversations will help equip them for future, deeper spiritual conversations.

Local opportunities:

Engage your groups consistently to be on mission together. Small groups, Sunday School classes, ministry teams–mobilize these groups so they break out of the “Christian bubble” and show the love of Jesus to others, together.

These are just a couple of ideas; but look for ways that missions can be an integral part of your programming and watch how God will change the hearts of students in your ministry.


Jeff Borton is Jen’s husband, Micah’s dad, Pastor of Students at Christ Fellowship, Miami, co-author of Simple Student Ministry and a spearfisherman.



I am personally BURDENED for students to be launched around the world after high school graduation so that…

1. They experience a desire for the nations to know God AND…
2. Their walk with God during that year can be unhindered with the ability to reveal their divine purpose in the Kingdom of God.

I support the vision of and encourage you or your students to explore the possibility. I’ve got more to say here in this video.

See what students say about Global Year

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or visit


The following is adapted from one of the parents in our ministry whose son used this method to fund his mission trip in 3 weeks.

Fundraising Through Social Media
How To Use Social Media and the Internet for Raising Funds

Why should I use the internet to raise mission trip funds?

  • In this day and age, the internet has become an integral part of everyday life.  Information can be shared immediately on a global basis, for free or at extremely low costs vs. using traditional means of fundraising (U.S. Postal Service, postage costs, supplies, delivery time).
  • By utilizing  your email & social networking contacts via the internet, you can start a campaign for donations or prayers that are limitless. 
  • People prefer the ease of the internet to receive & send information.
  • People are more apt to donate to your Mission Trip if you provide them with a safe, secure place to do so online with a credit or debit card.

What is the best Social Networking Site and how do I use it to fundraise?

  • This is the most widely used social networking site in the world. 
  • If you don’t have a facebook account, then set one up & invite your friends.
  • Ask your student if they are on Facebook.  If so, they can utilize their friends for prayers & donations as well. 

Facebook allows you to do the following to spread the word about your Mission Trip: 

  • Create an “Event” or “Group Page” which details your Mission Trip & fundraising goals, in which you can invite your friends, and ask them to invite their friends. 
  • The power of God travels fast.  Ask your friends to invite their friends. 

What to do & how to do it

Go to the “Events” Application on your “Home” Page on Facebook.  At the top is a “Create New Event” tab.  Click on it.

There are three easy steps to creating your “Event”

  1. Create the Event – here you will insert the name (i.e., “Send Austin to Ecuador on a Mission Trip”, set the timeframe dates, and Privacy factors (Leaving “Open” allows others to invite their friends, so that is advised).
  2. Edit the Event Details – This is the “heart & soul” of your event.  Basically, the traditional fundraising letter is inserted here, which details the mission trip, who/what/when/where & asks recipients for donations and prayers.  You can customize this page by adding pictures, videos & links (more on that).
  3. Invite Your Friends – Click on the “Invite People” tab, and all of your friends will pop up.  Click on the people you wish to send, add a personal message, and hit SEND.  That’s it. 

Link for Credit Card Donations via PayPal:

If you do not have a Paypal account, you can set one up for free on their site at  

If you know someone who has a Paypal account, that you trust, you simply need the email address to which their Paypal is linked for insert into your “Event Details” section for a link to (more on that later), which is a free Fundraising Widget site. – how does it work? is a free, easy to use site that allows friends/family to contribute to Mission Trips using a credit/debit card.  Research has shown that giving people a quick, easy way to donate to your cause yields more results.  62% of the population pay bills online.  Many don’t even have paper checks anymore. 

  • You can set a goal/time frame and there is a cool “counter” graphic to show you how much has been raised and the number of contributors.
  • You can customize your Chipin as much as you want, upload pics, write updates, etc.
  • Contributors names/email address & amt. given are viewable by you only (which are exportable to your email server), but contributors can leave “comments” which is great!
  • Funds go immediately into the Paypal & check can be written to your church.

Other Tips & Miscellaneous Stuff:

  • Get your student involved.  Have them invite their friends & and both of you ask your friends to ask their friends to send out invites.  Remember, this is not just about asking for money…you are asking for PRAYERS as well.  So people that cannot contribute are not embarrassed because they have committed to praying for you by “attending” your event.  This makes everyone feel INCLUSIVE in your Mission Trip.
  • Update your event page frequently & make comments to comments left by your friends.
  • Post a link to the event page on your facebook wall & ask friends to do the same. 
  • You can “share” both the invite page & the chipin widget on ANY website, including email. 
  • Write handwritten thank you notes to contributors or take it all the way cyber, by emailing a customizable free e-card (google it…there are thousands of sites for this). 

Have you used other online methods to fundraise for your event or trip? What have you found to be successful?



This is a great article from on deciding whether to send students into “unsafe” areas. Safety is always, and should be, a concern for parents when sending their students to another country. Hope this article helps

“Is an urban mission a safe place?”

I cannot begin to count how many times I have had to answer this question or a question related to safety.  It makes sense that parents and youth workers are concerned.  When given a chance, I try to answer their questions by sharing my “safety faith journey.”

It was the late 1980s. I was in seminary trying to figure out if I was called into ministry.  One weekend, Rita (my wife) and I decided to visit some family friends living in Watts, Calif.  This couple and their two children had moved from a small farming village in Southern Manitoba, Canada to what was, from my perspective, the extreme opposite: inner-city Los Angeles, Watts. After class on a Friday, we made the four-hour journey from Fresno, Calif., to Watts.  Twenty years later, what stands out to me about this visit was a conversation we had in the backyard.

Read the full article here

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Honduras 2010 was a phenomenal week in the lives of our 9/10th grade students at Woodstock. What started out as a long and arduous preparation process (October 2009 through March 2010), culminated in a life changing week. Nearly half our team experienced their first international mission trip. I remember my first international trip. It left an unalterable mark on my life. To this day, I can’t take a hot shower without thinking of a week in Mexico sleeping on a concrete floor with a slow drip, cold shower. I believe Honduras 2010 has left the same mark for many of our students as well.

Parents, you would be ultra proud of these students. They prepared well and performed even better. This past week fifty-seven of our 9/10th grade students and adults pushed back the darkness and advanced the Gospel to the nations. The reality of Matthew 24:14 being fulfilled in this generation inched closer this week. Thank you for entrusting your son or daughter to our team for a week to the nations.

Adults, I am amazed. A Student Pastor can’t lead effectively without leaders like you. You lead by example. You fight through the tough stuff. You love in spite of. You see the vision and carry it. I love you and I’m deeply grateful to God for you!  Thanks for your investment this past week!

A few summary thoughts from this week:

1) The raw enthusiasm of students can change the world (and make Youth Pastors go crazy at the same time)

Lila & Shannen

Student ministry has the unique challenge of channeling the roller coaster of emotions, enthusiasm, passion, desire, and naivety of students towards the Gospel. In a week of international missions, we have essentially drawn up the bumper lanes for students to march forward with the Gospel. It’s amazing how our students rose to the challenge. Every presentation found our students eager to take the Gospel to students in one on one conversations…even after five days of ministry and all the loss of sleep. The Gospel was a motivator. Seeing students come to Christ was an encourager. It was almost a personal competition within each student to see how many students they could share the Gospel with and beg to come to Jesus. In total, there were 1134 recorded decisions this week!

2) What if?

Here are a few what if? questions that I’ve been rolling over in my head for several weeks. This past week shed light on a few of the answers for me in programming student ministry.

  • What if a student spent four years in high school ministry but decided in the fifth year they no longer wanted their faith or the church?
  • What if a high school student was prepared biblically and theologically for most any challenge?
  • What if parents were intimately involved in their student’s spiritual life?
  • What if 50% of Southern Baptist Churches launched just one graduating senior to a Global Missions Year just once in the next four years? How many more when other denominations are factored in?
  • What if middle school and high school students had an intentional plan to prepare for a Global Missions Year following the first year after high school?
  • What if every spiritually maturing (the qualifier being maturing not mature) high school student took at least one international mission trip during high school.

The answers to many of these questions leads me to the next observation…

3) Could this be the generation?

Katie Nelson

When Jesus describes the end of days in Matthew 24, we observe that nearly all has been fulfilled except verse 14. The Gospel will go to all ethne…every people…and then the end will come. The world is flat and access to areas that seemed impossible before are now more possible than ever. The use of cell phones and internet can never replace human relationship but who knows how the Gospel will penetrate those yet unreached areas. I am convinced though, that students will play a primary role in fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy. Nearly 45% of the world’s population is under age 24. After a week in Honduras with students sharing the Gospel with other students, I am more encouraged than ever that students provide the best vehicle for Matthew 24:14 to be fulfilled.

4) Student ministry is messy and not for everybody

The dots were connected this week for me in regards to why it’s difficult to get adults, volunteers, and student pastors to stick with Student Ministry…working with students is messy, chaotic, frustrating, and not always containable in neat and clean parts. Student ministry can be a roller coaster. One minute there is an a-ha moment of euphoria when students share and live the Gospel. The next minute you’re wondering how they could be such loud, noisy Americans in the airport despite team trainings and repeated admonitions to be pipe down because people are watching. One thing is sure…it takes a person full of grace and mercy to work with students. Others will throw up their hands in frustration and walk way. I love what I do, but I’m pretty sure this is an area that I need to be challenged.

5) One thing every youth group should do

The fruit of an intentional Gospel bearing mission trip will last a lifetime for many students. The seismic impact of this type of week extends to a much larger sphere of influence in friends, the rest of the youth group, family, relatives, and even school campuses. I would like to hammer this point in a thousand ways. But for now, I’ll allow Nike to encourage my Pastor and Youth Pastor friends…Just Do It.


Olivia Frost

This mission trip, like most of the other twelve mission trips I’ve participated with in the last thirteen years, have impacted me as much as I’ve impacted a people group. I was stretched. My faith was increased. And, I came home with an increased fear of God, love for my wife and son, and absolute thrill for the place in life God has for me.

God used our 9/10th grade students this week for the advancement of the Kingdom. I’m proud to have been there to see it, and I’m grateful to God for every parent, student, and supporter involved. It was a fantastic trip!

Hey students and adults, let’s do it again next year. What do you say?

Catch up on all the Honduras and Ecuador updates by going here


Hey did you know we’re sending 122 students and adults on mission trips this week for Spring Break? Our 9/10th graders are headed to Honduras and our 11/12th graders are headed to Ecuador.
We’re posting all the action including photos on our two mission trip blogs.
Feel free to keep up with our teams by visiting the following blogs:


Long before I ever started at Woodstock, our Pastor led our church to embrace a culture of evangelism and missions. Our church breathes these thoughts unlike any place I know. That culture makes it easy to cast a vision for evangelistic mission trips for our student ministry.

Clay Goswick Sharing the Gospel at a BMX Park in Portugal

Some people often ask why we don’t allow students to do construction or service projects on our trips. We’re not opposed to trips that involve construction or even service projects. Those are good things and can support a missionary or the local church’s work.

Alexandra Morris using the Evangecube in Honduras

However, we’re convinced that the best time to learn to share the gospel and to be thrown into the fire to practice are the teenage years. Teenagers should learn to share the gospel. If not now, then when? If not them, then who? Teenagers can love Jesus with all their hearts and change the world for Him. We’re convinced of that thought.

If they learn it now, there’s a greater chance they’ll be more effective in the future. The passion of teenagers should be exploited for the Gospel. Why should the enemy get all their energy? If their enthusiasm can be channeled into a passionate relationship with Christ, the next generation will be better for it.

Caitlyn Richards sharing the Gospel after a presentation

Every year, our middle school ministry takes a spring break trip to somewhere in the states. Recently, they’ve been to Las Vegas, Cleveland, San Diego, and this year Orlando.  Our high school students take two age graded international trips each spring break and have recently been to Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Paris, Portugal, Honduras, and Ecuador.

In this environment, we make tremendous efforts to train our students over the course of six months prior to the mission trip.  They learn everything from fundraising, prayer support, in-country culture, drama training, and music training in Spanish. Most importantly, we spend a great deal of time training our students how to share the gospel.

Everything Drama at a park in Portugal

Evangelism training is contextualized for each trip but is still applicable and adapted for their everyday experiences here at home.

We take the time to train our students in the following three methods:

  1. Testimony
  2. Evangecube (very effective in a Latin American country because it’s visual)
  3. 7 Verses* as well as the Ten Commandments

It’s exciting to watch students share their faith on a mission trip. The passion for many of them finally has an exit strategy and the joy on their face as they share is worth six months of training!

What have you found to be effective in training students for mission trips as well as evangelism?

* We teach students to use the following 7 Verses in this order – Gen 1:1, John 3:16, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12

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