1. Local Missions- Every student ministry needs to be serving their community. The community around them needs to see that the church loves them, cares for them, and does not just see them as a mark that they can add to their attendance rosters. This is especially true in many communities where they church has a bad name and is now seen as irrelevant. There are many ways to turn the tide of this bad perception but I have found the best to be loving those around you. Because after all, we cannot take the principle that they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care and only apply it to our own lives. It really must apply to our churches as a whole. And besides, remember that Jesus called us to reach Jerusalem first anyways. So if we are not doing anything in our community all year what is the point in going overseas or doing anything else? There are many things you can do but here are a few ideas to get you started.
· Homeless Shelter- If you have a homeless shelter of some kind in your community you could take your students down to hang out, sort donated items, or serve food. Just know that many shelters have strict volunteer policies so you will want to call ahead and see if they allow teens and what they will let your teens do.
· Nursing home- Having had family members in nursing homes I know how much that visitors mean to them. You could do something like run a BINGO game, give the ladies manicures, have a church service, or just sit and listen.
· Neighborhood/Park cleanup- This is a real quiet but powerful way to impact your community. You could just go out to a park as a ministry and clean up and even provide lunch or bottled waters to others while you are there, or you could just go to a neighborhood near your church and go door to door to see if anyone needs any help.
· Campus- You could call the local principle and see if there is any way that your students and leaders can serve the school. Sometimes they need free help at events and sometimes it is just simply creating care packages for teachers.
· Care packages for the homeless- You could create seasonal care packages for the homeless (i.e. Gloves and blankets in winter).Then, you actually take your students out to hand out these care packages. It is incredible time for you and your students and much learning takes place. We have done this with our students and have had great conversations with others and our students always want to go back.
2. Global missions- We are called to go to the end of the Earth so we must do that. I encourage you to challenge your students to take an overseas mission trip before they graduate, and then make sure to provide them that opportunity. I cannot tell your where to go but here are some ideas of what to do once you find a location.
· VBS- You could run a vacation bible school or backyard bible club for teens and children in the community. It makes a great opportunity for your students to develop leadership and share the Gospel.
· Sports camp- This is and easy way to build relationships and connections that allow you to share the Gospel. Just make sure you choose an appropriate sport that you can play and the culture is interested in learning.
· Relationship building- I have not been, but I hear in places like Germany people love to just sit around and talk. So if you could find a place like that you could just go to markets and coffee shops and just build relationships and share the Gospel all week. (You could do this at home as well.)
· English classes- Many places want to learn English or at least want to practice their English so you might be able to go somewhere to provide this service.
· Church partnership- I suggest making this your starting point anyways, but find a church overseas that you can partner with and be a part of supporting what they are doing in the community already.
3. Ongoing Missions- This is not so much a category as a soap box. Missions must be an ongoing thing in your youth ministry. This way students do not just take an occasional trip to appease their consciences but they instead realize that need is around them all the time and they must live a lifestyle of missions. This is why I suggest forming partnerships and coming up with many ways to get out and do local missions. Plus, when you do missions this way you do more to help instead of just coming in like a rushing wind for a week or two and leaving, never to be heard from again. This often does more harm to communities than good. So make sure that missions, from praying to giving to going, are always a part of your ministry.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas to get the ball rolling about how you can reach and serve the world around you. Also, feel free to let us know how you are doing missions in your youth ministry so we can continue to support each other in community as we take the Gospels to the ends of the Earth.