I believe it was in 2003, I was sitting in an all-day pre-conference with Craig Jutila at CPC in Atlanta. I sat there like a sponge, taking in everything he had to say about purpose driven children’s ministry. For me, it was a new approach to ministry that I desperately needed. I had a lot of great things going, but it was inspiration from this session that helped refine, polish and add structure to ministry. Having a huge heart for international missions, I knew that I’d eventually take kids on missions, I just didn’t know how or when. It was after I developed a “process” for ministry that I saw how missions might fit. Four years later the time was right.
I had developed a mid-week small group program for K-5th grade kids. The next step was to provide opportunities for them to put what they had learned into practice. The plan was for a comprehensive missions/outreach program. We would begin with a local mission trip available to 3rd-5th graders. We’d spend 2 nights away somewhere within the area doing hands-on ministry (nursing homes, service projects or whatever else we could put together). In addition, we’d offer another trip for 4th or 5th graders to somewhere a little further away, such as a Native American reservation in Arizona or New Mexico. This trip would give the older kids a little different experience… ministering to another culture, but still being in the United States. Last of all, we would offer a trip to Mexico for 5th graders. It would provide an actual, cross-cultural missions experience. The program was comprehensive, something that kids could grow into. In the same way, the older kids still had the option of the local trips as well.
The way it worked out was that an opportunity for Mexico developed faster than any of the others. I hadn’t been actively pursuing the missions program, but the opportunity developed and I jumped on it. I went the summer before with a family mission group and fell in love with the location. It would be perfect for what I wanted to do. So, we got to work planning it. We decided to offer the trip for 4th and 5th graders in 2007. It would be a trial run where we would test the waters and refine for following years. I figured that I would add a local trip in 2008 for 3rd -5th graders and add the Arizona/New Mexico trip in 2009. I got the final okay from the staff and leadership and began promoting the trip in April (too late in my opinion).
Ultimately, the philosophy of this experience was to build on what we were doing in small groups and create an environment where kids “do” the ministry. I’ve been on many trip where the kids just “tagged along.” I’ve also been on trip where efforts truly were made to involved the kids, but it was still an adult trip. This was going to be different. In these trips, the adults go to support the ministry the kids actually do.
Tomorrow, I’ll share an overview of the preparation for Surge: Mexico and what actually happened while in Ensenada.
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