Like many churches, ours has an annual high school mission trip when, for a week, we take our students to another town and we build. We build wheelchair ramps, porches, replace roofs, etc. We applaud our students for sacrificing a week of their summer to serve others. Our church and their town are impressed by our hard work. But is it enough? Should we be satisfied? Are we, as youth leaders, doing all we can to ensure that our students form hearts for serving others?
If we look to Scripture, we see that a great deal of Jesus’ mission on earth was serving others. From restoring a withered hand to healing a bleeding woman, feeding a crowd of 5,000, and raising people from the dead, Jesus was here to serve. He even declares his intentions as he quotes Isaiah in his first public address:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).
Based on that, is our one-week annual mission trip emulating the life of Christ? In part, yes. In that week, we’re serving others with all our hearts, in the name of Jesus. Certainly, this is a good thing. In order to truly live like Christ and offer our students the richest array of serving others, though, we must do more.
In the months and years to come, I would encourage you to find a way to expand and enhance the service opportunities you offer your students. Already have a construction-heavy mission trip? Great! Add a monthly trip to a local homeless shelter to serve a meal. Already have an overtly evangelistic mission experience? Super! Create opportunities for students to mow lawns for elderly citizens or sort and fold clothing at a local resale shop.
The goal is for our students to live as true followers of Christ by serving others throughout their lives. What new opportunities will you give your students? How will you cultivate Christ-like service in the lives of those with whom you’ve been entrusted?