There is a pretty good chance that your church has helped to support a youth mission trip. Youth mission trips have a wonderful place in the life of the church and play a particularly important role in the faith lives of our young people. There are various ministries that provide meaningful experiences of service and reflection. While I was serving as a youth director, I enjoyed seeing the transformation provided, but I was always concerned about the experience. Three concerns continued to confront me every time I planned and attended these trips:
- The cost of sending one student usually ranged from $300-425, which usually meant that some of our most active youth group participants couldn’t afford it, even if they only had to pay a portion of the trip.
- While the idea of service-focused was appealing to the parents, they did not want to keep the students in the local setting for them to see the needs in the community. More often than not, the mission trip was supplanted by tourism on either side of the week-long mission trip (because let’s face it, you have to have something fun to do, or no kids will want to participate).
- Our kids worked hard and served well, but there was a huge disconnect between how the service projects were connected to their faith. When given opportunities for such reflection, it was not often that a Lutheran voice was heard. Rather than seeing our gifts and service at work as a result of our faith, it was often spoken of as payment on some debt that we owed to God for the death of His Son.
With these concerns in mind, two churches were dreaming up a plan and had no idea that they were both thinking about similar things until an e-mail was sent just before Christmas. This summer, Christus Lutheran Church, Clintonville, WI, and Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Maple Lake, MN, are participating in a service exchange. During July 9-13, students from Christus are traveling to Maple Lake, a community just outside the Twin Cities. While they are there, they will help with several projects in the community, at the church, and in the homes of some of Holy Cross’ members. They will also head to Minneapolis to participate in a food-packing event at Feed My Starving Children, a poverty simulation through Minneapolis Council of Churches, and attend a Saint Paul Saints game. The pastors from both places will lead students in worship and guide students in times of reflection based in our Lutheran witness. Unfortunately, the students from Holy Cross were not able to head out to Clintonville, but it may be worked out in the future.
This youth service exchange is yet another example of how solid biblical and Lutheran theology shape the ministry of the local church (or two churches who are part of the Augustana District) and sends them out in mission for Christ.
Submitted by Pastor Culynn Curtis, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Maple Lake, MN
Do you know of a church that has implemented a Creative Calling? Please let us know about it so that we can share your ideas by contacting Randy Freund.
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