Training young people to serve

The summer work-and-ministry project near a Canadian Indian reservation had finished, and our youth team had successfully painted the camp buildings … and alienated the resident missionaries.

The evaluation was blunt: "They seemed more interested in pairing off with each other than having significant contact with Indian students."

I was determined to prevent such fiascos in the future.

Service projects can be eye-opening exposure to missions, and they can also benefit those on the receiving end—but not if young people go for the adventure rather than the opportunity to serve.

I've discovered the success of a summer missions trip is largely determined before the bus ever leaves the church parking lot.

We significantly increased our requirements for those going out, making them clear from the beginning, and interestingly, the year we began demanding so much more, our number of applications doubled. The students seemed to take the requirements as a challenge and were better prepared ...

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