Through our 100 years of ministry, we have learned a lot including the fact that our youth mission trips are a powerful way to remain active in church and grow in your faith. Through a faith-forming, short-term mission trip experience, you will serve God and learn about what it means to get involved in the community and be a good neighbor. The participants, community and the churches involved all benefit in ways that will continue to guide and shape their lives years later.
Here are nine benefits to expect after taking part in a short-term mission trip:
1. God will change you.
You’re not going to change the world in the short time you spend on your mission trip. There’s so much going on around you that it’s challenging to make a significant impact in a week. You are there not for adventure, but for obedience. You are going because you know that God has commanded all of us to serve the world and love our neighbors. That is the main point of this trip. Soak it up and pray God will change your heart in extraordinary ways.
2. You build relationships with people.
Finishing a project is only a small part of a successful youth mission trip. The rest is all about building deep and meaningful relationships with the people around you. The people you cross paths with deserve to be treated with care and respect no matter their circumstances, no matter their level of education, no matter the color of their skin, no matter their language and no matter their needs. Be willing to ask questions. Go simply to learn and communicate. Come back with stories and the names of all the new people you’ve met, not just a photo album of nameless people and mission trip selfies.
3. Your comfort zone will be challenged.
Many of us get stuck in the sameness of our spiritual lives. It can be useful to step out of your comfort zone and allow God to stretch you. You’ll experience physical, mental and spiritual change during your week as you learn about the new place and build relationships with other Christ-followers.
4. You are taught faith in ways you don’t expect.
Sometimes God uses a short-term mission trip to reveal your purpose and God-given strengths. Sometimes on mission trips, people discover they want to start non-profit organizations, get degrees in social work or serve as a full-time missionary. The experience is a time and place to allow God to work in and through your life. Use the trip as an anchor in your faith, and it will propel you forward, deepening your relationship with God.
5. Your compassion grows.
Pain, suffering and poverty are not just things you learn about in the classroom or read about in the news. Behind these things are real people with names and families. Learning compassion through service on your teen mission trip can be a powerful form of knowledge.
6. You practice patience and flexibility.
Rarely on a mission trip does everything go as planned. Be ready to forgo things you enjoy in your day-to-day life to serve others. Requests you may think are simple may end up taking a lot of work. Be patient and trust in God, even when things don’t happen in the way you’re used to.
7. You become more globally aware and better understand the world.
Expect to encounter the world in a way you never have before and may never again. Despite language or cultural differences, all humans are fundamentally the same. We all have a need to be known, cared for and to have lives steeped in meaning and purpose. A short-term mission trip can open your eyes to the reality of life and make you turn to God in humility.
8. You commit to servanthood.
It’s easy to believe youth mission trips are about you and what you will gain. This list focuses on many of those very benefits. But these benefits should be the byproduct and not the main focus. Use the trip as a time to take your eyes off of yourself and look for the needs of others. How does God want you to help other people meet their needs? Continue your commitment to servanthood by serving in your church and community at home.
9. The benefits don’t end when the trip is over.
After the experience is over and you’re brimming with passion and stories, it doesn’t have to end. Continue to focus on seeking justice in your own neighborhood. Keep trying new things. You don’t have to fly on an airplane to serve others. Take what you learn and find a way to apply it in your day-to-day life.
If you’re considering a mission trip, either with Youth Unlimited or another organization, remember they can create dramatic shifts in how you view the world. After all, God uses short-term mission trips to make a long-term impact on the lives of those who serve.
To learn more about how you can serve communities in the USA and Canada in missions, head on over to our SERVE Missions Trip page for a list of trips and testimonials.
Looking for more benefits of a youth mission trip? Check out this great resource!
- 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.
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.