Crock pot or microwave?

Have you ever prepared a roast early morning and then let it cook in a crock pot throughout the day? Have you ever placed the ingredients in a bread maker and set it to be ready at dinner time? If so, you know what it is like to have your space fill up with the smell of food cooking for hours and the anticipation that it creates for the food you’ll enjoy later in the day. In fact, it is the pace of the cooking that adds to your enjoyment of your meal. On the other end of the spectrum, a hot pocket that is heated in the microwave for a couple of minutes might provide a hungry person food. However, it is doubtful that its’ flavor or your anticipation would match the quality that comes from a slow cooked meal.

So, what does crockpot cooking have to do with mentoring? I believe many of us choose to employ a microwave approach to how we structure our expectations for building intergenerational connections: we are willing to invest a minimal amount of time, but for some reason are surprised if the relationship that develops isn’t what we hoped it would be.

We would do well to be reminded that an impactful relationship takes time. In fact, time is the very thing that helps build connection, depth, and meaning in mentoring. In the same way crockpots create enjoyable meals, a slow, deliberate, and patient approach to forming relationships continues to be the best way to building meaningful intergenerational connections.

Posture

Many of us approach mentoring with the idea that it is a process that is based within a specific context: two people sitting across a table from one another engaged in a guided conversation. While that may be true in some instances the posture of mentoring doesn’t have to be limited to a face to face meeting. In fact, initially it might be better if it doesn’t.

Sitting directly across from someone can be an intimidating posture for individuals as they begin to get to know one another in a mentoring relationship. While a table may provide a physical buffer there may still be a sense of vulnerability that comes from being in a person’s direct site of vision for an extended period of time. To help ease that anxiety, it might be helpful to consider the physical posture we employ as we seek to build intergenerational connections.

Rather than starting face to face, consider changing your posture so you are shoulder to shoulder during your initial interactions. Look to do things together that might create space for conversation without having to stay in a fixed location like taking a walk, or meeting outdoors in a park or location with a shared view. This shift in posture may create a more casual atmosphere that sets a foundation for the deeper conversations that are often part of a long-term mentoring connection.

Perspective

Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of working with several churches that are interested in developing intergenerational mentoring connections in their congregation. While each situation is unique, there are some common themes that emerge in these conversations. Over my next two posts, I’ll deal with two of them specifically: the first will focus on a perspective that might be helpful at the beginning stages of a mentoring relationship, and the last will deal with the idea of posture.

So, what does perspective have to do with mentoring? For many of us, we may be hesitant to begin meeting with a student or emerging adult unless we have a clear idea of what it looks like to be a “successful” mentor. Or we may begin a mentoring connection with someone only to lose momentum if we find our initial conversations to be challenging or even awkward. In doing so, we are experiencing the impact our personal perspective can have on our ability to connect with a younger person. From an “older” person’s point of view, a challenging or awkward beginning to intergenerational connection might be viewed as evidence that they aren’t equipped to be the perfect mentor to an emerging adult.

The good news however, is that young people aren’t looking for their mentors to be perfect, they are merely looking for them to be present in their lives. An older person who is able to shift their perspective to reflect this reality will find that students and emerging adults are simply seeking authentic relationship. All they are looking for is an older person who is committed to journey with them as they move into their next stage of life.

5 Reflection Questions to Ask After Your Mission Trip

Coming home from a youth mission trip can be much like falling off a mountaintop and walking away very disoriented. You have experienced so much in such a short time that coming back to real-life can be a letdown.

One way to prevent disorientation is to spend some time in reflection and share your experience with others. Below are a few questions to ask yourself and your trip companions as you try to process your experience and integrate what you learned into daily life.

1. What are the top three things I will miss from my mission experience?

Mission trips often come with new friendships, a new love for the location you were in and a spiritual high. While we know that the trip can’t last forever, it is okay to think about what you will miss about being there. Recognizing things that will be missed is also a good way to think about what you may do differently at home.

2. What are the top three things I’m most thankful for at home?

Maybe you are really thankful for your family, your home church, the school you go to or that you have a stable place to eat and sleep each day. Spending some time to reflect on these things will help you have a greater appreciation for all that you have been blessed with!

3. What is one thing I want to remember from this experience?

We hope that we will remember it all but we also know that our memories can fade over time. It’s important to think of some of the highlights and make note so that you can hold onto this impactful experience for many years to come.

4. What do I feel like God was communicating to me during this time?

Do you feel like you learned a big lesson or felt a little nudge? Are you leaving with a renewed conviction to spend more time in the Bible or to get connected with a non-profit at home? Sometimes you don’t even realize what God was trying to tell you until you take a little time to process your experience.

5. Who will I share with when I get home so I can be held accountable for continuing this growth?

We are not meant to go through life alone. Talking about your experience and the things God communicated to you throughout the trip with someone you trust can be a great way to follow through on the promises you have made yourself.

Take the time to reflect on your mission trip

As you ask these questions really reflect on your experience. You may notice lessons that you learned without even being aware at the time. Maybe you want to write down some notes about the benefits of your experience and your answers to these questions so that you can look back on it in a few months.

After you have spent the time reflecting on your experience and preventing the disorientation, you will want to think through the conversations you will have with people at home. You’ll want to be ready to share one story about how the week impacted your life. When people at home ask, “What did you do?” they often really mean, “Whom did you serve, and how did the week impact your life?” Be ready!

Above all, don’t let all the transformation that you experienced during your mission experience fall away when the trip is over. Be intentional about bringing it home with you and always remembering the lessons God was teaching you.

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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Youth Mission Trip Planning E-Book

7 Ways to Empower and Encourage Youth Before a Youth Mission Trip

Beyond the details of planning for a youth service trip is one of its most essential elements: building enthusiasm. A youth mission trip may be one of the most positive and memorable experiences a young adult encounters. We need the youthful gifts of passion and creativity to align the church in the mission of God.

Here are seven ways to empower and encourage your youth as you partner with them on your short-term mission trip:

1. Make a list of the people (or the person) they most admire and their qualities.

Once they have this list, urge them to strive to achieve the most essential qualities. The list of distinctive attributes stimulates interest and propels them toward goals they can accomplish. Keeping these qualities top of mind can make for a more meaningful mission trip experience.

2. Spend time in prayer.

One of the most uncomplicated methods to deepen your youth ministry is to increase your commitment to prayer. Students, youth leaders and adult volunteers alike can all benefit from extended times of worship before, during and after their trips.

3. Reduce fear of failure.

Encourage teens to step outside their comfort zones. The critical element of the youth service mission is to get to know the people they are helping. It’s okay to ask questions. Remind them they might make a mistake. Guide them to continue on in a new way rather than seeing it as defeat.

4. Share and reflect before sleep.

Take time at the end of every day to think deeply about the day. Share accomplishments, tell stories, ask questions and answer concerns. Give a brief update on the next day’s schedule to set expectations for the morning and build excitement.

5. Develop a student leadership team.

Recruit highly determined teenagers with raw skills and train them to use their gifts as leaders. This responsibility builds confidence and shows them their opinions and ideas matter.

6. Plan after-hours activities.

When the work is done, encourage your youth to collaborate and create. Encourage them to pair off or form groups to create a skit or dance, write a song, play a game or do something else creative to share with the rest of the group.

7. Formalize reflection and feedback.

Recommend everyone keep a short journal to reflect and record thoughts during the trip. Or instead, send your youth group home with some open-ended questions to reflect on. Meet a week after the youth mission trip to celebrate and formally share the trip’s outcomes, new knowledge acquired and insights. You could also create an online survey to gather more information about your group’s experience during the mission trip.

Mission trips can be life-changing. Whether you attend a SERVE mission trip experience or another kind of short term mission experience, giving your youth group some preemptive things to ponder steers them from spiritual apathy and self-absorption and into a deeper relationship with Christ. During the trip, and after, keep up the reminders to focus on God and keep their eyes open for what he’s doing in their hearts and lives.

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!
Get The Free eBook

Youth Mission Trip Planning E-Book

How to Plan a Mission Trip

7 Things to Do When Planning a Mission Trip for Teens

How to plan a mission trip with youthIf you’re planning a mission trip for a youth group, it can seem overwhelming. Based on our experience, here are things to consider when planning a mission trip for youth:

  • Check dates with parents early in the process.

Even before October 1 of the year before the summer mission trip, begin asking parents if they have a family vacation planned or know of camps/activities in the summer you should plan around. Don’t just ask the students to ask their parents. Go to the parents directly. This gives you a good contact with them and avoids miscommunication.

  • Consider distance and destination.

How far do you want to travel? Will a long road trip build your group unity for the rest of the year? Does it fit the budget? How does the host church/community fit into the progression or rhythm of your mission strategy? Are you looking to move your students outside their typical environment (rural, urban, suburban, ethnicity, etc.) or teach them how others in a very similar environment love their community? Check out this list of mission trip locations for teens in the US and Canada or this list of 5 different types of impactful teen mission trips.

  • Budget carefully.

Budget for a mission trip to help everyone enjoy their timeIf you do not have a budget worksheet for your mission trips, ask your church treasurer to help you create one or call a youth ministry veteran. This is essential to your planning and fundraising. Raising funds is an important work of missions. Here’s some fundraising ideas for youth mission trips.

  • Raise prayer support.

Every summer there are over 1,500 students and youth leaders who go on SERVE, and we estimate there are more than 5,000 adults who support them in prayer. You might even put your vision, the intended outcomes and a bit about your team and your Host Church in your church bulletin before and after your trip.

  • Plan your post-trip process in three parts:

Debrief, follow up and follow through. This will help students understand what they think and how they feel about the trip and also help them integrate what they learned during the trip into their everyday life. See the SERVE Post-Trip Plan in the Resource Box for this process.

Check into it before you even start promoting. There is a planning timeline, a parents’ letter, pastors’ letter and promotional items to help you cast the vision.

Find Mission Trip Locations for Youth Groups
Get Help Planning Your Youth Group’s Mission Trip

  • Most importantly, change the thought from “Where should we go?” to “Let’s make disciples!”

When thinking about mission trips for teens, don’t get caught in the short-sited thinking of just planning a trip. Start with your heart to disciple your students in missional living that lasts a lifetime. Add to that your desire to serve and submit to the host church or ministry, and consider the 7 standards of excellence.

Youth Group Mission Trip PlanningWhether you’re looking to start a mission trip for teens or organize a service trip for them, as you ponder the mission trip being one aspect of discipleship, consider the following:

A progression:

  • How can your students plug into the existing community outreach of your church or help advance it?
  • What experiences will teach your students how to minister in their own back yard?
  • How can they see the strengths and needs of your own community?

Consider planning a mission trip this summer that will help expand their understanding of how God works through churches to reach a community.

Local Mission TripThen, build toward that trip with some late winter and spring service projects in your own backyard.

Plan to go back to those service projects in August – October to follow up relationally, and perhaps continue through the rest of the school year.

For more help on planning a specific trip, contact us or feel free to call our office (1-616-241-5616).

A rhythm:

You might consider a very local mission trip for your students in middle school, then a regional one for grades 9 and 10, and a longer distance trip for your older students. Or, keep them all together and go local, regional and long distance progressively.

You do not have to leave the country to learn about another culture!

No matter where you live in the United States or Canada, you can find first/second generation immigrants (or possibly first nation people groups) to learn from and serve with. In fact, Youth Unlimited has some customizable mission trip locations in the US and Canada that include cross-cultural learning.

Find Mission Trip Locations for Youth Groups
Get Help Planning Your Youth Group’s Mission Trip

Your teaching:

Preparation for a mission trip begins with teachingYour mission trip and service projects are like fence posts. They won’t do much good without the rails of ongoing mentoring relationships (in missional living) and solid week-to-week Bible teaching.

Add into your curriculum Bible content on missions, missional living and stories of those who live life on mission. The Youth Unlimited Resource Box has suggested pre- and post-trip teaching sessions. Talk about, or even bring in and interview, the business leader who sees their career as missions,\ or the pregnancy center director or the prayer warrior for your missionaries, etc.

Are you planning a youth mission trip?

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!

Get the FREE eBook

 

For help on planning a specific trip, contact us or feel free to call our office (1-616-241-5616).


SlideShare Version

This post is an edited excerpt from the Youth Unlimited Magazine (Fall 2015).

FAQs

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 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:

  1. 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
  2. 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 hereIt is strongly recommended that the letter is notarized.

There are numerous resources for your church to use in the planning and preparation for your trip. Visit our online Resource Box!

What’s New In 2019?

Registration for the SERVE 2019 teen mission trip season is about to open NOW OPEN and we wanted to let you know about some new things!

If you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

  1. New SERVE Youth Mission Trip Sites for 2019
  2. New Background Check Policy
    • In year’s past, we have required that all Adult Leaders (21 and over), as well as host team members, have a background check on file with their church. This year, in order to have better accountability and peace of mind at our sites, we are requiring that a copy of each background check be sent directly to our office.
    • We are also changing our definition of “current” to three years instead of five. (For the 2019 season the background check must have been completed after June 15, 2016)
    • For more information and details on how to get a background check CLICK HERE.
  3. The Cost of SERVE
    • For many years, we have been able to keep the cost of SERVE steady at $360 USD. Because the cost of living continues to increase we have raised our price to $375 USD* for 2019 youth mission trips. This price increase will allow us to continue providing you with quality experiences as well as increase the amount our host teams receive in order to cover their costs for the week. *These reflect the cost of a high school SERVE site before April 1st. Please double-check the site description page of the site you are attending to confirm the price.
  4. Revised 3 Step Registration Process
    • Step One: Save Your Spots!
    • Step Two: Complete Your Online Paperwork. This must be done by March 31, 2019, or there will be late fee charges.
    • Step Three: Payment Due. Payment in full for all SERVE Sites is due on May 15, 2019.
    • Learn more and complete step one HERE.
  5. Sending Leader Training
    • We are excited to be piloting a sending church leader training program for the 2019 season. These short videos will help your Adult Leaders prepare for the SERVE week, covering topics such as what it means to be a small group leader, leading with integrity and modeling a safe culture.
    • More details about this program will be released later. Make sure to follow along with our monthly newsletter and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for details.

Park Rangers

The following is an excerpt from our Youth Unlimited Summer Magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

The opportunity to have been part of the “Park Rangers” group at my church has drastically changed the way I look at and interact with my church today.

Planning to host a SERVE trip with a congregation of our size didn’t seem possible, but I was amazed to see the abundance of support from the members of our church and community. People were signing up to lead games, cook meals, help out with job sites and be a part of the main Host Team. The Park Rangers group, in particular, became a very tight knit group as we spent the whole week on site together. We ate together, worked together, organized together and if we were ever seen without the others it was very rare!

Being at our church for a week straight was odd at first, but that mentality quickly changed as we made new relationships within our church community. As a group, we got to know many of our staff members better. For example, our cook on site, Donna, became like a member of our family after the week was over. People we never used to talk to at church were quickly becoming people we wanted to be around all the time.

Hosting SERVE was a huge undertaking, but the reward was well worth the effort put in. For the Park Rangers, our group walked away from a week of SERVE with a feeling of genuine community, and many new relationships formed within our own church walls. 

-Park CRC Student

______________

As a volunteer youth leader and a member of our SERVE Host Team, it has been such a blessing to work with our Park Rangers and watch them develop into team members and grow as church volunteers. The experience has been incredibly positive in that the students were able to use their talents and energy for God. Relationships between the “Park Rangers” grew and friendships that were not there before blossomed.

As the week progressed and everyone became tired, I was able to see them dig their heels in even deeper to make sure the experience for those at our site was not just good, but great. Members from our church who volunteered throughout the week were able to see our Park Rangers in action, setting things up, tearing things down, playing games, cleaning bathrooms, hauling food, carting supplies, motivating students at worksites and enjoying serving others.

This has allowed many other relationships within our church to grow. I often see our youth talking with some of the people that volunteered in the kitchen or at the worksites. A sense of community has grown that spans all ages. I believe it is so very important that the youth feel valued as church members and I think Park Rangers helps them to be just that. By using their gifts to glorify God, they are a valued member of the Body of Christ.

-Park CRC Volunteer Youth Leader

Christian Community

by Adrianna Wimmers

Stress is mental or emotional strain caused by demanding or adverse circumstances. Stress can come from many different situations and can be overwhelming, leading oneself to not know where to turn to or what to do about the stress they are experiencing. Balancing school, friends, relationships, extra-curricular activities, jobs and everything in between can add unnecessary and often unwanted stress.

Stress and being overwhelmed can blind us to many things like the people who can and are willing to help us get out of our hole that we have stressed ourselves into. Our stress can also blind us to the other people around us that are stressed too. We become unable to see the world around us; we become too consumed with what we ourselves are dealing with.

We often take stress out on those around us, instead of turning to them for support and comfort. We believe that isolation is what we want, but we do not have to be alone.

Community is the feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests and goals. Building community is important to do, and a supportive community is helpful in so many ways. God even tells us this in Galatians 6:2 “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” We can share our stress and burdens with our community and turn to them for support and comfort. We can also look around at those in our community and show them our support, show them that they are not alone and that others have felt what they have felt as well.

Community is where you can turn in all circumstances, not just in times of sadness or stress. We can rejoice with our community and celebrate together.

Romans 12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble and keep praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other.”  Stressed and overwhelmed or joyful and prepared to celebrate, community is where we can turn to.

Turn to the community, build community and invest in community. Our God did not create us to live in solitude, but with people, who can help, love and support us.

Our God loves us so deeply and will never leave us, he will always give us strength for what we need, whether that be strength found within ourselves or strength gained from the support of our community.

Students this summer are learning and growing in Authentic Community. To find out more about what they’re learning, click here.

Why SERVE?

I participated in SERVE as a worksite supervisor for the three years my church hosted SERVE, and I can tell you that there are many good reasons to participate in SERVE.

First, it’s an excellent opportunity to engage with the next generation, the youth who will be called upon to sustain the Christian faith in the years ahead and pass it on to the generation after them.

Second, Youth Unlimited is very effective at partnering with churches and sharing their much needed experience so churches new to SERVE are able to host SERVE well right out of the starting blocks.

Third, I had recently completed a spiritual formation course where I discovered I had missed the mark in living a missionally obedient life. SERVE gave me an opportunity to get started.

Forth, once I experienced SERVE the first year and witnessed the impact on the youth, the adult volunteers and myself alike, I was ready to continue the following years. SERVE builds camaraderie among the youth and volunteers. It provides a sense of accomplishment for the projects completed. It emphasizes building relationships with people in the community by sharing God’s love in ways that meet their needs in very practical ways. It gives everyone opportunities to serve in the ways God has gifted them, thereby creating a beautiful orchestration of God’s body at work in unity together.

And most of all, it deepens our spiritual relationship with the Lord. Finally, when community residents come to the community dinner on the last night of SERVE and share their testimonies about the impact SERVE had on them, it caps off a great week by bringing glory to God, which is what we ultimately seek to do.

-SERVE Host Team Member

Would your church be interested in hosting SERVE? Click here for more information. You might also visit our SERVE Locations page to view other locations.

LIVE IT: Documenting our Journey

The following is an article from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

I recently had a discussion with some high school students about whether or not I was going to lock up their cell phones during our week long summer mission trip. They listed many reasons to keep their phones, but the one that surprised me most was their desire to be able to “check-in” to all the landmark locations we will be visiting while away.

Cell phones have become a modern day “Captain’s Log” documenting significant events, adventures and discoveries along life’s journey. In my new role as the LIVE IT Director for Youth Unlimited, I have been considering how our students log their spiritual journeys and what locations they’ll remember as the landmarks of their spiritual adventures.

Those of us who grew up without a cell phone can recall a specific service trip where our faith grew outside of our comfort zone or a youth convention where we discovered how our talents and abilities fit into God’s Kingdom.

Today, LIVE IT is an “unconventional youth convention” where students learn about their value in Christ while exploring how to use their talents to spread God’s love to their friends, community and world. By pairing students with like-minded peers and adults, they will see how God created them with a purpose so much greater than self-gratification. By offering different tracks in athletics, arts and service, students will recognize how each person comes to the table with their own personality, interests and God-given talents. Within each track they’ll learn spiritual disciplines to help discover how their voice helps create the body of Christ. Students are also challenged to return home and use what they’ve experienced at LIVE IT to spread God’s love throughout our communities and our world.

On July 30, 2017, hundreds of students and adults will converge in Estes Park, Colorado for LIVE IT 2017. It is my prayer that during this five-day event, students and adults will document deep in their hearts and minds their tremendous value in Christ. That they will discover their unique talents and abilities necessary for the building of God’s Kingdom. Most of all, I pray that LIVE IT 2017 will be more than just another place where students “check-in” but that it will be a place that will launch them into the next phase of their journey with Christ… And if they happen to have their cell phones with them, I hope they check-in, tweet and Instagram every adventure, every discovery and every new friend they meet, and that they tag it all with #LiveIt2017!

A Thread in the Tapestry

The following is an excerpt from our Spring 2016 magazine. To view the whole magazine, click here.

A Thread in the Tapestry

by Kyle De Boer

Joining forces for the third straight year, three Montana congregations are collaborating to host Gallatin Valley SERVE. We are an eclectic bunch with diverse gifts. Farmers and ranchers work side-by-side with educators and entrepreneurs. The unique community of volunteers for GV SERVE is the locale in which youth and adults offer their gifts for something greater than themselves. SERVE volunteers and participants are the needed characters in a much larger, gospel-centered story of love and transformation.

Youth are an integral part of Gallatin Valley SERVE. Consider a large tapestry—one larger than the size of a tall Dutch man! This aesthetically pleasing piece of art conveys a message as you soak in its magnitude. Step a little closer, and you begin to notice the detail of this magnificent work. Step even closer yet, and you notice how small strands of thread comprise this masterpiece. Students are some important strands of the thread that comprise GV SERVE.

Before GV SERVE came into existence, three “youth”, functioning as adult leaders, led a group on SERVE to Sioux Falls, SD. Ranging from 22 to 25 years old at the time, these three individuals returned to the Gallatin Valley with a conviction to host SERVE. Support for SERVE quickly expanded to include: area councils, high school students and many adults. Preparations were underway.

Since the inception, youth keep the pulse of GV SERVE beating, possibly even racing! On our day away, students want to summit a mountain. Their effort to conquer the high elevation is motivation for our adults to keep up! Students can step out of their comfort zone in order to engage the opportunities that are part of Montana. Conversation around the supper table can get quite loud in the Fellowship Hall as stories of relationships and service are swapped. Singing, clapping and dancing are expressed in evening worship, in both a church sanctuary and an alpine shoreline. Students from different churches in Montana join with peers from across North America to enter into a story that is much greater than themselves. All the while, adult volunteers and leaders have the privilege of learning from and growing with these important strands of thread.

I have the privilege of seeing both youth and adults integrate their gifts with Christ’s work in Montana. GV SERVE keeps the eyes of our Host Churches open to our community. With wide eyes, our congregations are able to engage the Gallatin Valley in continued and new ways because of the SERVE participants. However, the Gallatin Valley is only a small part of the large tapestry that God is weaving.

Youth are empowered at SERVE to live a transformed life of love and service at home. After seeing a new community and joining in Kingdom service during SERVE, adults and students have an opportunity to enter God’s redemptive story in their church, community and family. Some SERVE participants return home to provide support for a local non-profit. Some seek reconciliation with a parent or friend. Others allow the grace of Christ to shape their view of self.

Gallatin Valley SERVE has taught us that whether we are on SERVE or at home, we can continue to offer ourselves as thread, purposed and placed by the master weaver, Jesus Christ.

To connect with Gallatin Valley SERVE, click here to visit their Facebook page.