SERVE Mission Trips for Teens
With all your heart, soul, mind and strength, Go SERVE
A new way to transform your community
SERVE@Home equips the local church to experience all the elements of a typical mission trip without the travel. It will also give churches the opportunity to deepen existing long-term relationships with local community partners as well as enhance intergenerational personal relationships among their congregation members. The associated acts of service can become a spiritual momentum maker in the life of the local church and the surrounding community.
SERVE Youth Mission Trips for Groups
SERVE is typically a one-week mission trip for teens in the United States or Canada that introduces middle school (Grades 6-8) or high school (Grades 9-12) students to spreading the gospel through missional living and confronting issues of justice. Each all-inclusive missions trip experience is planned with individual and corporate benefit in mind. SERVE is hands-on and people-oriented, and so these youth group mission/service trips have a very personal and long-term impact.
SERVE is not just a week-long summer youth mission trip.
It’s about a transformation that lasts a lifetime!
Where will you SERVE?
(choose a youth mission trip type below)
High School Mission Trips
High School SERVE mission trips are week-long (7 day) mission experiences open to students who have completed grade 8 through graduating seniors. The community-focused environment of SERVE encourages students’ passion for their own congregation and community, so the impact of SERVE continues long after the high school students return home.Find a Location
Middle School Mission Trips
Middle School SERVE mission trips are 6-day mission experiences open to students who have completed grade 6 through students who have completed grade 8. The community-focused environment of SERVE encourages students’ passion for their own congregation and community, so the impact of SERVE continues long after the middle school students return home.Find a Location
SERVE@Home Mission Experiences
SERVE@Home equips the local church to experience all the elements of a typical mission trip without the travel. The associated acts of service can become a spiritual momentum maker in the life of the local church and the surrounding community. By participating in this program a church can expand the congregation’s reach into the community and better understand the assets and needs that exist.Learn More
“How wonderful would it be if all teenagers at some point during their high school years could travel on a SERVE mission trip and get a clearer understanding of God’s purpose for their life sooner, rather than later?”
Youth Leader of a SERVE Mission Trip
Browse SERVE Trips
Go or Host?
Youth Group Mission Trips
Mission trips and other faith-forming experiences are proven to be the #1 way to keep teens active in the church and growing in their faith. SERVE youth mission trips for teens are all-inclusive, 5-7 day service trips for Middle School or High School students. The students go into communities in the USA and Canada to care for and restore their world in an environment where they’ll encounter the concepts of justice and missional living. More than just a week-long short-term mission trip over the summer, SERVE is a faith-forming experience where the communities, congregations, and students who are involved all experience lasting transformation.Choose a Destination
Impact of Hosting a Teen Mission Trip
Students on SERVE mission trips are helping to transform communities and congregations across North America (think of them as domestic mission trips). Together, ThereforeGo and local churches work together to share the love of Jesus Christ with those in our own backyards. SERVE is more than just a week-long missions trip for teens; these young adults will walk away with an experience that will have a long-term impact on your local community and the people that live, work, and worship in them. We can use help hosting youth group mission trips in 2021.About Hosting SERVE
“SERVE started a momentum in our congregation that is like a mini revival. I’ll have to determine how to make the most of it throughout the rest of the year.”
Pastor of a SERVE Host Church
Are you planning a youth
mission trip for High school students?
Get a FREE copy of the Complete Guide to Planning a Youth Mission Trip. This complete guide will help make you plan your youth mission trip from beginning to end!
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for SERVE Mission Trips
Note that these FAQs don’t necessarily apply for SERVE@Home. Contact us for more details.
For the 2021 SERVE mission trip season, we are not allowing any churches to cross an international border for a SERVE experience. In other words, we’re only allowing for domestic missions trips in 2021 for youth. Browse trip destinations here. In addition to keeping SERVE within borders, we will be leading special COVID preparedness training for all of our Host Sites and Sending Churches in the spring of 2021, before our SERVE trips begin.
We encourage all groups who are uncomfortable with traveling to a SERVE experience to check out our SERVE@Home kits!
SERVE mission trips for teens cost $375 USD/$450 CAD* if online paperwork is completed by April 1. Everything is included except transportation. After April 1, prices increase by $50. Not ready to pay? That’s okay. The final payment isn’t due until May 1.
*Some sites vary slightly in price based on different lengths of experience. Choose a trip location and check its description to find out more!
We get this question a lot: “How old do you have to be to go on mission trips with ThereforeGo?”
High School SERVE Mission Trips: Any student who has completed grade 8 through graduating seniors in the spring of 2021. *We are making a one year age exemption for class of 2020 graduates who were unable to attend SERVE 2020, due to COVID restrictions.
Middle School SERVE Mission Trips: Any student who has completed grades 6 through 8.
Adult Leaders: Adult leaders must be 21 years or older. See more information under the question “What are adult leader expectations (and how many are needed)?”
Do I have to be in a youth group or can I come by myself?
Our current SERVE model does not accommodate individual participants. For more information contact us.
Find SERVE mission trip locations here on our trip locations page.
When choosing a mission trip, we recommend taking the following factors into consideration.
- Dates: It’s important to figure out what dates work for your church and the largest number of people in your youth group.
- Location: Do you want to drive? Are you willing to fly? Transportation can be one of the most complex factors to a mission trip so it is important to factor in how far and by which method you are willing to travel.
- Capacity: If you have a large group (more than 15 people) we recommend that you look for a SERVE site that has a capacity of 60 or more. We have found that SERVE sites are more successful if we can place 3 or more different churches at any one site.
Short Answer: Most Everything
Long Answer: Your registration fee includes most everything you need once you arrive onsite, except transportation to the site and daily transportation while at the mission experience.
- Spiritual Life Guide with small group leaders training notes, theme-based small group discussion outlines, pre-trip lesson suggestions and commissioning litany, post-trip debriefing and follow up guides for adult leaders
- Spiritual Life Guides with daily devotionals for students
- SERVE theme t-shirt
- Supplemental medical insurance
- All meals
- Lodging (usually in a church or school)
- Daily schedule with planned activities
- Engaging worship and speaker
- Organized service projects and supplies
- Registration, welcome, community-building games.
- You will usually be introduced to your small group, which consists of six to eight students and one adult leader from different churches.
- Breakfast, personal devotions, commissioning service at the Host Church. (Interested in hosting a mission trip as a “Host Church”?)
- Lunch, team building, orientation, and organized fun.
- Dinner, session with a speaker, worship, and small group discussions.
Monday through Friday
- 6:30 AM – Wake up
- 7:00 AM – Breakfast/prepare lunches
- 8:00 AM – Devotions
- 8:45 AM – Leave for work sites
- 4:00 PM – Showers/free time/organized games
- 5:15 PM – Leaders’ meeting
- 6:00 PM – Dinner
- 7:30 PM – Evening session with a speaker and worship
- 9:00 PM – Small group discussion
- 10:00 PM – Snack and free time
- 11:00 PM – Lights out
- Pack up and head home to serve in your own community!
- Recreation/Sightseeing: At some point during the week, a half day or full day is set aside for recreation (organized by the Host Team). Expect to visit a local attraction, such as beach, theme park, do some sightseeing, etc.
- Detailed schedules are set by the local Host Team and may vary from what’s described here. Please be flexible, and follow the schedule set by the Host Team.
- Middle School experiences may start on Saturday or Sunday, and typically wrap-up on Friday.
After you’ve picked a site (see mission trip destinations), follow this process to register:
STEP ONE: Place a $50 deposit per participant to save spots at a particular SERVE site. You’ll just need the number of youth and adult leader spots for your group. Approximately 1-3 weeks after you submit this form, you’ll receive a site confirmation letter by email confirming which site your group has been placed at and providing you with the access code that your group will use to complete your paperwork in Step 2. Save your spots starting November 2 at Noon (EST)!
STEP TWO: After you place your deposit and receive your site confirmation letter with your access code, you can then complete your online paperwork for each participant individually. You must complete your paperwork by April 1. All paperwork completed after April 1 will be charged a $50 late fee.
STEP THREE: Payment in full is due on May 1 for all SERVE sites.
Our current SERVE mission trips model does not accommodate 19 & 20-year-old participants*. For more information contact us.
*We are making a one year age exemption for class of 2020 graduates who were unable to attend SERVE 2020, due to COVID restrictions.
How Many Adult Leaders Are Needed for a SERVE Mission Trip?
One adult (21 years of age or older) is required for every five youth. At least one adult of each gender (if students of each gender are attending).
Adult Leader Responsibilities
- Serve as small group leaders.
- Act as work site overseers.
- All adults are required to attend the entire week with SERVE.
- Driving their small group to and from work sites throughout the week.
- Be safety-conscious at all times.
- General crowd control and spiritual coaching throughout the week. Download the leader handbook (PDF).
All Adult Leaders (21 and older) are required to complete and submit a current background check to the ThereforeGo Ministries office. To be considered current for the 2021 SERVE season, the check must be completed after June 15, 2018. See how to submit a background check here.
The host team will place participants in small work/prayer groups, trying to not have more than two people from the same church in the same group in order to promote community among the entire SERVE Site.
The Host Team for your SERVE Site will be sending out a welcome letter which will include more details about the week and a packing list. You can expect to receive the information approximately 30 days before your mission experience begins. You can find out who your Host Church is by going to the site’s page (one of the locations found here).
We believe that whether mission trips help or not depends on the type of mission trip you have. Real lasting impact is never accomplished in a week. This is why we partner with local churches to provide our SERVE mission trips! All of our sites are run by volunteers who live and work in these communities all year long.
We believe that SERVE mission trips provide a two-fold impact:
- On the individual involved in SERVE. We hope that each student and adult:
- Become doers of the Word and not hearers only
- Become justice conscious, meeting needs while being introduced to the root causes and concerns
- Grow in their personal faith
- Continue serving others when they return to their home church and community
- On the relationship between the church and the community. We hope that the week of SERVE helps them to:
- Identify community assets and needs
- Provide an infusion of energy to their mission, vision, and outreach efforts
- Help deepen personal relationships and partnerships within their local community. Our host sites are encouraged to partner with ministries that they have an existing relationship with and allow this group of teenagers to bring energy and excitement to the long term partnership.
Keep It Safe: Make photocopies of your passport’s identification page and/or of your identification cards, and keep the copies separate from the original when you travel. For added security, leave a copy with a friend or relative at home.
Traveling with Minors: Any adult who is not a parent or guardian should have written permission to supervise the child from the parent or guardian, as well as the child’s identification, and carry it with them. A letter would also facilitate entry for any one parent traveling with their children. This permission letter should contain addresses and telephone numbers where the parent or guardian can be reached. (Example Consent to Travel Form – find more forms and resources here) It is strongly recommended that the letter is notarized.
For US Churches:
ThereforeGo Ministries accepts check, money order, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover payments.
Payments can be made out to ThereforeGo Ministries and mailed to:
1333 Alger St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49507
Contact us if you have additional questions.
For Canadian Churches:
ThereforeGo Ministries accepts cheque and Interac e-transfers.
Payments can be made out to ThereforeGo Ministries and mailed to:
261 Woodall Way
Woodstock, ON N4T 0K9
Contact us for Interac instructions.
ThereforeGo Ministries carries secondary health insurance and liability insurance. All insurance claims must be submitted to the participant’s individual insurance first. ThereforeGo’s insurance will begin where the participant’s insurance ends for any medical expenses incurred while at the site. If a participant does not have insurance coverage, ThereforeGo’s insurance becomes the primary coverage. Participants are not covered while traveling to or from the youth mission experience. Check with your insurance provider to verify your coverage in the state/province/country where you are traveling, and bring a copy of your insurance card along.
Registration fees do not include transportation to and from sites (except where noted). Any exception is noted in the site descriptions as “on-site transportation included” (find the site description on one of the locations found here).
Each group must provide a vehicle(s) and adult driver(s) to transport an equal number of participants during the duration of the mission trip. If your group is unable to provide van transportation, please contact us to discuss options and additional charges.ThereforeGo Ministries (TGM) will refund monies if a written cancellation request is received by May 1, 2021. Please note that while we were blessed to be able to refund all deposits this past year, moving forward all deposits will be non-refundable and not transferable to your remaining balance due.
If you request a change of location or substitution of participants within 30 days of the start date, an additional $50 may be charged to cover administrative costs.
In the case of extreme weather, disaster, or COVID cancellation: TGM has your group’s safety in mind as we host events. If we are unable to host an event due to weather conditions, national disaster, or because current COVID guidelines set by government agencies prohibit TGM from continuing a SERVE experience, deposits cannot be refunded. Refunds of final balance payments will be made only if properties and/or locations refund TGM for these costs. If an event is hosted as scheduled and your group cancels or reduces numbers due to weather conditions or other concerns, all payments are non-refundable.
If a registrant or immediate family member has an emergency prior to or during the summer mission experience, TGM will do what we can to refund a significant portion of the money.
Would you like to hear from a youth pastor or volunteer who has either brought their youth group on SERVE or been a part of a SERVE host team? We would love to connect you with a reference! Contact us today to request a reference.