Jun 26, 2017
Why Take Non-Christian Students on Mission Trips?
Mitch Tidwell writes about how God has been redeeming non-Christian students who go on mission trips with Christ Chapel Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX.
Six years ago Christ Chapel Bible Church sat in the middle of downtown Fort Worth, just a few short miles from the TCU campus. They started in a church basement with 50-60 students, but eventually outgrew their space and relocated their worship service out of necessity. They now hold their Sunday morning college service at the Aardvark, a local pub and music spot. This ministry maxes out this space with nearly 220 students. Nearly half of those students participate in sending in spring break mission trips.
For the last 10 years CCBC has been committed to helping plant churches in Belize. This started out as a way to involve committed students in God’s mission overseas. Over time they noticed that not only was this drawing the committed students, but others – particularly students have found themselves exhausted with the world and want something more significant than the party scene.
As these students begin finding emptiness in worldly pursuits, they often try to find significance or worth in humanitarian efforts. Here’s where CCBC’s College Ministry steps in. CCBC leverages missions to reach local students who are far from God, while unapologetically advertising it’s all in the name of Jesus.
But how do they do this? Why would a student far from God want to go on a mission trip?
I talked to Josh Storie, College Pastor at CCBC about how they leverage mission trips to impact students who are far from God. Here are four key components:
1. Changed Lives
Students who come back from their spring break mission trips often come back transformed. The change in their life is a testimony of God’s changing power to others on their campus. Christ Chapel offers an alternative to the beaches and parties of Panama City or Gulf Shores. For the exhausted student, a mission trip is worth a shot especially when they’ve seen how it’s changed their peers. When students come back changed by the gospel through the experience of a mission trip, it’s attractive to those far from God.
2. Meaningful Community
Students far from God also see the community that is developed through those who go and it’s attractive. They are able to serve alongside other students outside of their comfort zone, forced to set aside distractions. It’s incredible what a little face-time with each other will do! When their college ministry shoots for mission they always get community.
3. It Takes Time
CCBC has been committed to planting churches in Belize for 10 years. This has been something that has grown over time, not overnight. Part of their secret sauce is that they made a game plan and stuck with it. Although CCBC does promote the trip to students, they really don’t need to. The students know each year that this trip is on the calendar. Students now expect this mission trip and look forward to it. Another plus to allowing the ministry to grow overtime is that it becomes a well-oiled machine, which allows more students the ability to sign up.
4. Student Ownership
Since CCBC has allowed this ministry to grow over time, they’ve gotten the reps to make it a great experience. They rarely have to sell the ministry to students who are far from God. Students who come back changed by their experience become a living story of God’s power and the best pitch money can buy. CCBC makes this a high impact event. Students are impacted and they become the mouthpiece. They begin to own the vision for the mission trip. It’s reached a point that leadership no longer has to cast the vision, the students do it.
Here are a few questions to consider as you think about how your ministry might better leverage your short-term mission trips.
1. What’s the vision for your mission trips?
What vision do you currently have for your mission trips? Are they strictly for leaders? Perhaps the purpose for your trips can be leader development and reaching students who are far from God.
2. Have you built longevity with your mission partners?
One of the keys that has allowed this pivotal time of the year to flourish is CCBC’s continued commitment to a certain spot, Belize. Students are able to build relationships in Belize and also with their peers. This is key if you want students to carry the vision, rather than just ministerial staff.
3. Are you giving students a platform to speak of their changed life?
When student’s lives are changed others will notice it and usually it’s an organic process. However, what can you do as a ministry to help students in your ministry and students on the campus see that students’ lives are being changed in and through your ministry?