Week To Year: How to turn a week-long service trip into a year-long process of transformation

If you’ve served in student ministry for any amount of time, it’s likely that you’ve participated in some type of mission, service, or outreach trip with your students. It’s also likely that some of your students came home from the trip saying things like:

“God changed my life.”
“I will never be the same.”
“I’m not the person that I was before.”

As youth workers, we have to celebrate when we hear students articulating moments of positive growth and transformation. However, we also have to grieve when we don’t see the growth and transformation manifested in their lives long-term. I’ve heard plenty of students and volunteers make pronouncements like this after an experience, only to profess a few weeks or months later that their lives are the same as they were before the trip and that the feel as if they’ve “lost” something since they returned home…

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/articles/week-to-year#sthash.YcyZcTqJ.dpuf


High School Service Trips, Part 3: Reflecting on the Experience

At several points throughout each day, and during an extended time of debriefing each evening, students and volunteers reflected on what they were experiencing. They shared how they were being challenged to rethink some of their assumptions about life and faith. Several students shared the following reflections:

  • A storm destroyed Mississippi, but people destroyed Detroit.
  • We are the story of the “Good Samaritan,” but most of the time we’re the religious people who didn’t help the suffering person.
  • The love of Jesus is a beautiful, unique thing.
  • The historical connection and conflict between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam is anything but simple.
  • It’s not okay to take your experience with a small number of people and project that experience onto their entire religion or culture.
  • I didn’t feel “welcome” where we were working today, but then again, if a bunch of people who looked different than me showed up in my neighborhood uninvited, I might not want to welcome them either.
  • We didn’t accomplish much this week. The problems here are bigger than a few people giving money or time. The system is messed up. That’s what needs to be fixed. […]

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/high-school-service-trips-part-3-reflecting-on-the-experience#sthash.ZQxFoz1f.dpuf

High School Service Trips, Part 2: Innovating and Executing the New Service Trip

Once we figured out the why of our trip, the what flowed naturally from there. It became much easier to sort through the possible partners, locations, and causes we could join. After having conversations with individuals and groups from around the country, we realized that we really didn’t know anything about our neighbor two hours to the east. We had a growing sense of confidence that Jesus was inviting us to take a step towards a relationship with our brothers and sisters in Detroit, Michigan.

Our church is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is approximately 160 miles west of Detroit. Although a two-hour drive doesn’t sound like an insurmountable distance to travel, aside from attending a sporting event or concert, many of our students and volunteers had never really experienced this part of our state…

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/high-school-service-trips-part-2-innovating-and-executing-the-new-service-t#sthash.HfWkLn0I.dpuf

High School Service Trips, Part 1: Navigating transitions from one experience to another

Too often in youth ministry, we tend to jump from one cause to the next. This gives our students missional whiplash, and I suspect prevents us from supporting the “cause” as much as we think we are.

I wouldn’t be able to recognize this reality except for a relationship that our ministry stumbled into nearly eight years ago. After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, our church began an immediate and active presence in Waveland, Mississippi – the community most devastated by the storm. As an extension of the initial disaster relief Mars Hill provided, our high school ministry sought to get involved in any way we could…

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/high-school-service-trips-part-1-navigating-transitions-from-one-experience#sthash.sK2QqL3s.dpuf

Micro-Enterprise with Macro-Results

For the past 5 years Mars Hill has partnered with World Relief to support Turame Community Finance—a microfinance resource in Burundi, Africa, one of the poorest nations of the world. Microenterprise functions with the belief that given the proper resources and support, the poor can lift themselves out of poverty through their own effort, energy, creativity, and entrepreneurship. This revolutionary idea has shaped how we’ve invited our high school students to participate in supporting this project. Because similarly, we believe that given the right support and resources, our high school students can accomplish remarkable things on behalf of others.

So every November and December, Anthem (high school) Students take a hands-on approach to our microfinance initiative by borrowing $5 to start their own small business. They sign loan agreements, agree to pay back $1 a week, and work hard with other students and leaders to create profits that can be donated to Turame. Since 2007, our students have taken out 634 loans from our church (that’s $3,170). Their hard work and ingenuity has led to nearly a 100% repayment rate and almost $12,000 in profits, which have been donated to Turame. From designing clothing and jewelry, to hosting a video game marathon, our 9th-12th graders continue to model to our community what it looks like to actually live out the mission of our church.

Read the full article here:  http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/micro-enterprise-with-macro-results


College Ministry for High School Pastors: Part 2

At Mars Hill we believe that encouraging Sticky Faith in the lives of our students can happen when we realize that ministry to college students isn’t just for College Pastors. This is why our community has created a “Post-High School Ministry” as an extension of our High School Ministry. We’re seeking to help our graduates walk across the bridge from adolescence to adulthood and from a high school youth group to adult ministry opportunities in healthy ways by pursuing the following objectives in our High School + Post-High School Ministry:

Objective #1: High School graduates will experience a significant relational connection to the Mars Hill community that transcends High School Ministry Programming.

Objective #2: High School graduates will experience a growing spirituality that transcends High School Ministry Programming.

These objectives have led to multiple small but significant shifts in how Anthem functions as a ministry. We’re doing everything we can to equip our volunteers to be volunteer pastors in the lives of our students. We want them to understand that a relationship with a high school student isn’t a programmatic commitment but is a sacred bond that students need present in their lives beyond high school graduation. The Sticky Faith research has helped us to realize that if adult relationships with adolescents end when high school ministry programming ends, than we shouldn’t be surprised if adolescent faith ends when high school ministry programming ends. We spend a significant amount of time and energy pastoring, training, and equipping our volunteer pastors to be more than just a volunteer, leader, or sponsor in the lives of our students.

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/story/college-ministry-for-high-school-pastors-part-2




College Ministry for High School Pastors: Part 1

Exposure to the Sticky Faith research immediately reframed our understanding of high school and college students and how our community can best serve them. We realized that if our community genuinely desired to serve and be an advocate for college age students, we had to recognize two significant and distinct tribes of people that we had mistakenly labeled as one:

Tribe #1: College age students from the Mars Hill community who were a part of our high school ministry and graduated from high school in West Michigan.

Tribe #2: College age students who moved to West Michigan (to work or attend college) and have joined the Mars Hill community.

Read the full article at: https://fulleryouthinstitute.org/story/college-ministry-for-high-school-pastors