Many of us have been privileged to see young people on summer mission trips. These trips can be life-changing—challenging the youth to simplify their lifestyles, reach out in service back home on an ongoing basis, and say yes to their baptismal call to make the world a better place. There are many factors that contribute to making a mission trip more or less powerful. But I am convinced that one of the most significant influences on these young missionary disciples is the adult role modeling they experience. In Young Neighbors in Action (a high school service learning experience) and Just5Days (a middle school service learning experience), we often say, "As go the adults, so go the young people!"
The team leaders and chaperones who accompany youth on mission trips make all the difference. If they see a long drive to a work site as an opportunity for reflection, prayer, or faith sharing, the youth see it that way, too. If they show openness to the Holy Spirit in the type of work to which their team is assigned, the young people are equally open. If they engage in conversations with the victims of injustice whom they are serving, the youth are much more likely to form that relationship as well. So the question for many youth and campus ministers is, "How do we recruit adult leaders for our mission trip?"
Here are my top five tips for recruiting adult leaders:
Preparing for a mission trip is not the easiest part of your job, but it's worth every minute you spend recruiting youth, finding leaders and chaperones, fund-raising, and doing all the logistics. I've been doing Young Neighbors in Action for 23 years, and I fall in love with it all over again each summer because of its mission—to serve the most vulnerable—and the effect it has on both youth and adult participants. Hope to see you this summer! God bless.