Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Team, Two Communities / God's Justice and Missional Living

 The team (click to zoom)
The team...being weird. (click to zoom)

A team of around 75 high school students and adults will be embarking to one of two locations this upcoming week. Half will be headed to San Diego, CA to love and serve in an urban context through Horizon Urban Ministries. Half will go to Sanders, AZ on a Navajo reservation to love and serve in a rural setting affiliated with UIM.

We've been preparing for these missions experiences as one team headed to two different communities. Students have been reading tons of Scripture, practicing sharing the Gospel, learning about the respective cultures, and beginning to think critically about God's justice. We're preparing for this experience to be a catalyst for doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God, to move beyond the "missions trip" into missional living. (Fuller Youth Institute's Deep Justice Journeys has been a phenomenal resource in this preparation process.) I've been trying to avoid language like "service trip" or "missions trip," which can connote ideas of "one-time serving event that I can check off my Christianity to-do list." Instead, I'm hoping students begin to grasp God's heart for justice, as well as His ongoing missional action in our world. We want every student to see that they're a missionary all the time--it's not just the "professionals" who go live overseas.

I'm so stoked to see what God does in and through these students! I know that I'm brand new to high school ministry, and that leaders are supposedly forbidden to make significant changes in the first year of a transition. Yet having twice as many students participate in a summer missions experience--having two simultaneous trips in two communities we'd like to partner with--seems like a great early change to me. I'm hoping that ongoing missional living will become part of the DNA in our high school community; I'd love to see it become the DNA of our entire church! I'll be headed to San Diego, while our pastor of student ministries will be leading the Sanders crew. Pray for us, for wisdom and endurance and compassion and humble hearts!

What are you doing for missions this year? How can a church move from "trips" to "lifestyle" in their view of missions?

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