Feb 16, 2015


Last Minute Spring Break Ideas

Chad Ellis, a BCM minister in the Atlanta area, provides some ideas for last minute Spring Break mission trips.

Hypothetical Situation…

It’s the first week of February. Since Fall Semester you’ve been planning an amazing Spring Break Mission Trip to [insert amazing Spring Break Mission Trip destination here]. But then your phone rings. It’s your contact at [amazing Spring Break Mission Trip destination] telling you there’s been a scheduling conflict and there is no way they can host your team. You quickly call your “fall back trip” contact in [insert slightly-less-than amazing Spring Break Mission Trip destination] but they already have a group from another campus coming in at the same time. It’s late in the game, so what’s a campus minister to do?

O.k., so maybe you didn’t really plan an amazing Spring Break Mission Trip last fall. You’ve totally gotten buried under piles of paperwork and have procrastinated to the very last minute. Don’t worry. We’ve got your back for this scenario, too!

Here are a few ideas for making the most of a last minute Spring Break Mission Trip.

  1. Don’t go. “Traditional” Spring Break Mission Trips involve a lot of advance-planning logistics. You’ve only got a few week to worry about meals, travel and lodging just to name a few. Instead of sweating a “destination, plan a series of day trips within an hour drive of your campus. Depart from your local campus in the morning and return before dinner. Students can pay per diem the cost of travel and ministry supplies. An added benefit of day trips is having students you would never see attend a week-long mission project participate (students with jobs, financial restrictions, dually-enrolled and non-traditional students to name a few).
  2. Call a Church Planter. Church plants, especially those in early stages of formation, can usually benefit from a small team of college students. Church Planters are often creative and flexible enough to handle a narrow planning window. For practical steps to find and connect with Church Planters check out our previous article on “Helping College Students to Discover Church Planting.”
  3. Call a Rural Church Pastor. Small towns are dotted with small churches. Many of these churches would benefit from the infusion of energy and service your team could give. A lot of these pastors are discouraged and a collegiate ministry team investing in their ministry for a week could prove a real shot in the arm. Find churches through local networks (in my denomination these groups are called “Associations” and often have a staff person to call). Offer to visit local nursing homes, do yard work for seniors in the community, go door-to-door in neighborhoods around the church, clean the church facilities…whatever the church needs! In my experience most pastors will invite your team to crash at the church and use their kitchen facilities for little or no charge. An added benefit is the opportunity to teach students the value of belonging to a local church not just because of what it offers them, but because of how they can serve.
  4. The Small Church DiscipleNow. Small churches often lack the manpower to offer quality programming for their teenagers. And yet small churches are often flexible enough to schedule youth events at the “last minute.” Contact smaller churches and offer to provide a DiscipleNow (Friday-through-Sunday discipleship weekend) at their church. Your team can spend the weeks leading up to the trip writing curriculum, preparing to lead worship, arranging games, etc. You can arrive in town mid-week to prepare the church and handle promotion in neighborhoods around the church.
  5. Call another Campus Minister (or four). We all want our students to learn transferrable ministry skills (like how to share their faith). I’ve taken students half-way around the world so they will fall in love with sharing the Gospel when they come home. Why not, then, spend Spring Break in the environment they are most likely to learn these skills: on a college campus! In our state Spring Breaks vary from campus to campus and range from February to April. Take advantage of this and tour a few college campuses that don’t share your Spring Break week. Connect with existing campus ministry networks for space reservations, using tools like survey evangelism, Soularium, or servanthood evangelism projects to engage students with the Gospel. This sort of trip is easy to plan, easy to prep for and benefits college ministries (including yours). Added benefit: Your peers fully understand the stress you’ll be under trying to piece together a trip at the last minute—grace will abound!

Last minute planning is never ideal but there are ways to provide a great experience for your students while doing valuable work for local churches and ministries. Have a great Spring Break!

What are some last minute ideas you’ve found when your plans fall through for Spring Break?

about the author

Chad Ellis

Chad is the BCM Campus Minister at Clayton State University near Atlanta, GA