Every year, I have leaders approach me saying, “I just don’t think our kids are ready or mature enough to take part in a mission trip. This is a huge responsibility to share the Gospel with lost people. They are not developmentally ready to do something like this.” I have heard a lot of concerns like these, but those concerns are quickly turned to amazement when leaders see firsthand how God moves in the lives of children.
Here are five things to think about when contemplating whether you should take your kids or send your kids on a mission trip:
- Every believer in Christ has a calling to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20). “Every believer” includes believing kids. Obedience to the command of Christ is not a choice when it comes to spiritual maturity or abilities and talents. It is a calling for all Christians to go.
One year, we had a leader who was especially concerned about his kids being mature enough for a mission trip. He shared, “I teach these kids on a weekly basis. I did not feel that they were ready for something like this. During the trip, I was amazed at how their maturity level went through the roof. They were relating to kids at the site and ministering to them in ways that I have never seen before. I have seen them broken by God over sin and being bold the next day to proclaim His name.”
- They will experience the presence and power of Christ working in and through them in amazing ways (Acts 1:8). Throughout the past 15 years, we have been astonished at what God does when adults get out of the way and release their children to lead and share the Gospel. Katie (5th grader) shared, “I was at my site today. I was scared and afraid. I don’t know what it was, but something came over me. God spoke through me in a powerful way.” I have heard kids make this same statement so many times that I have lost count. We have learned through the years to train children and preteens and then intentionally put them out of their comfort zones. When we do, they cry out to the Lord and He shows up every time.
- They will embrace a hurting and dying world. It doesn’t take long once you leave the walls of your church and go out into your community to see how quickly you will come upon hurting people. One year in Norman, Oklahoma, during our mission trip, we were in an apartment complex that had a lot of people who were struggling financially. As we arrived, we noticed eviction notices on more than 15 doors throughout the complex. One of the girls on the trip—Grace—met a family that had no money for food. That evening at the church during our testimony time, she shared about her experience. The next day, our preteens donated out of their own spending money more than $290 to help this family. Grace, along with her group, delivered the gift to the mother. When the mom saw it, she broke down in tears of amazement at God’s provision.
- They catch the heart of God for the lost. About 13 years ago, we took 27 preteens on a mission trip to Corpus Christi, Texas. This was my first out-of-town mission trip. On the third day of our mission trip, one of our 5th grade girls—Amy—was praying at the altar after the evening worship time. She wept and cried for over an hour. Afterwards, I asked her if she was okay. She told me, “I could not stop sobbing for this little boy I met.” She explained that he had rejected Christ and did not want anything to do with God. He just lost both grandparents in a car accident. He was not interested in Jesus or accepting Him as Savior. The following day, Amy led the boy to Christ! We have seen this happen on almost every mission trip we have been on. Kids meet kids who are lost, and they weep and cry for their salvation. Then, sometime during the mission trip, those children often accept Christ.
- You and your leaders will be blessed by witnessing God work through children. When you go on the mission trip, you will see God’s glory. The Lord has great plans for the children in your church. When you see it, you will be convinced that God is on the move in and through their lives. On our 2012 mission trip, a deacon from a church in Granbury, Texas, shared during our evening worship time. He said, “We were at our site today, and Sarah was teaching. When she gave the invitation, she asked those who were listening to the message to raise their hand if they wanted to accept Christ. A lady raised her hand, then her daughter, and then her granddaughter. Sarah sat down with them afterwards and led all three of them to Christ.” This 60-year-old deacon was blown away by what he just witnessed. Stories like these are common on every mission trip I have been on. You will witness the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through kids as they minister. You will see their love for God as they worship and serve Him. Here are testimonies of leaders who witnessed God working in the lives of preteens released to share the Gospel.
The amazing thing about taking your kids on a mission trip is that both you and those you take will be deeply blessed and changed forever. You will witness firsthand God opening the eyes of the children and leaders to the needs of a lost world. You will see the Lord moving in powerful ways in and through the lives of your children and preteens.
We would love for you to join us next year on one of our sponsored mission trips. We have done all of the footwork finding locations, places to stay, and places to minister. We will also provide you with the tools to train and prepare your kids for the trip. If you would like more information about next year’s mission trip, click here.