Justice Journeys BEFORE

Lars Rood | Nov 11, 2009

Leadership: Small shifts can make a big difference to the “before” planning.

This year I decided to work through our summer missions planning in a series of blogs that I’ve written on the FYI Web Site. The first blog was just aimed at setting the framework and the second pretty much just chronicled a failure that we’d already had in September of 2009 as we planned our summer 2010 missions programs.

So it’s November. Our first summer missions project will head out in early June 2010. We’ll be taking 40 5-6th graders to Mendenhall Mississippi to work on a farm and teach VBS to local students. This is a trip we’ve done for about 10 years and have built a very solid relationship with that community. It’s also a very hard trip with a lot of work in some very tough heat.

In Deep Justice Journeys Kara and Brad split up the parts of the “Missions Experience” into “Before, During, and After.” In this blog I thought I’d take a look at some of what we are doing “Before” this year.

The key to successful “before” training of students is to get the two M’s (Money and Medical release forms) to not dominate your planning. The way we try to do this is to purposefully get all the information out to the students as early as possible.

This year we are hosting our traditional Pancake breakfast next week, which is aimed at raising money and awareness in our congregation so they know where we are going and how to partner with us. But, this year we are doing something different. Usually we make this our big sign up day for our summer trips and a big push for parents to get kids on the lists. But reading through Deep Justice Journeys has caused to realize that this doesn’t give students and parents time to sit, think, pray and reflect on what the summer experience will be like.

So this year instead of signups at the Pancake breakfast we are just putting out applications that ask students some probing questions about what their faith looks like, how they think this trip might shape their view of the world, and what things might get in the way of their growth. The focus of November and December will be on students asking these questions and thinking through this before we start doing signups in January.

Additionally I’m teaching that morning on those questions so we are really trying to get our students to think about their lives now and how they need to prepare and grow in the next 7 months before we go on the trip. This is just the first step in our “before” engagement with students, but I think this little shift will make a huge difference.

Read more of Lars’ musings at his blog, www.larsrood.com.

Lars Rood

Lars Rood has been a youth pastor for the last 15 years. Originally from the West Coast, he and his family moved to Dallas Texas in 2007 where he is the Director of Youth Ministry at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. Lars has an MDiv with a Youth, Family, and Culture concentration from Fuller Theological Seminary and a DMin focused on Leadership to Emerging Cultures from George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Lars is passionate about helping new and young youth pastors navigate the waters of youth ministry. He blogs at http://www.larsrood.com.

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