In a post I wrote last September, I talked about the arm of the National Network of Youth Minister's youth missions component, called Youth Go Global. They sponsored a conference in Orlando in January where interested youth workers, missionaries and mission agencies got together to talk specifically about missions efforts with youth. Here is their summary of the conference titled Youth Missions Network Forum 2005. I wanted to go to this, but instead decided to spend my time away going to a Mosaic event, also in Orlando, about a week later.
Included on the page summary are pdf links to three breakout sessions that were held at the conference:
- Normalizing youth missions in the local church
- Mobilzing our youth for missions
- Reaching youth in other nations
I've downloaded all three documents and will plan on keeping them around as some good resource information.
The top of the first document states "A local church with youth missions as a normal part of its life and culture has addressed these six areas"
I would like to expand on each one of these and tell you where we are in each area.
1 - Leadership
We have made a significant investment in our culture by addressing the issue of leadership related to youth missions. My role, having been created in the past two years, is a big deal. I don't find many youth ministries with someone whose sole job is to do missions. In fact, I haven't found one person with my role. It's cool though.
I've also come to the understand that I need to build my own set of leaders. Our ministry is mature enough to where program teams and small group teams have kids who have graduated out of serving in those areas. SPACE needs to grow some leaders for the future.
It's a unique challenge because growing a mission team leader is not the same as growing a small group leader or someone that can write skits. I'm calling people to totally different tasks. Give up 10 days of your summer, 24x7, to travel, hang out, teach and challenge, and take full responsibility for a group of high school students, potentially in a foreign land. Have any bit of passion for sending kids all over the world? Loved having diarrhea in Haiti? Any takers?
2 - Intentional/Long Term View
So true. Our projects are intentional, ideally teaming up with someone who is in the other culture for the long haul. Even our launches (one day service projects) are intentional, and not just random acts of service. What inevitably happens is that people in the church ask us to do stuff just because we are youth. We firmly and politely say no.
3 - Training/Teaching
If you have read this for a while, you know I'm anal about training.
4 - Sending/Celebrating
Our middle school pastor has already set a Sunday morning in the summer for a sendoff. Very cool, he gets it. And last year, he felt bad that he didn't get it soon enough. And we have a big party when everyone comes home. We don't celebrate enough with kids that try something new.
5 - Opportunities
I'm trying on this one. The stark reality is that when you serve a ministry of hundreds of kids, taking a group to an urban child center in the city for an afternoon won't work. When huge numbers of kids sign up, it's easy to ruin a host ministry's witness. Same with a summer missions project. Hopefully, I don't become the bottleneck. That's why I have to be careful about kids that want to do their own thing.
6 - Resources/Communication
The www. The number of mission articles, newsletters, mission agencies, etc. is such an incredible resource. And I have a few books that I always give kids to read.
I like to think that SPACE has made a difference in light of these six areas. I believe we are on the road to making youth missions normal part of its life and culture.