There are various aspects to consider when taking children on mission trips as we have discovered in this 3-part series (see parts 1 & 2). Here are some final thoughts and encouragements:
Shepherding your child through the mission adventure once you are there.
Once you are on the ground and ready to begin the mission, remember that part of your job is to point them to the Lord throughout the process. Be ready to discover a lot about yourself and your child that can build your relationship. In fact, build in that excitement and expectation into your child from the very beginning!
Know your child’s capacity.
If they can survive on little sleep and are fairly flexible, an international trip is an option for you. Try not to cross too many time zones so they can recoup from the travel quickly. Mission trips with kids will go at a slower pace so have realistic expectations. Kids should not be asked to endure hours on end of ministry without an outlet. Otherwise, there will be meltdowns. Worst case scenario: kids begin to relate mission trips as “work” rather than spending quality time in God’s presence.
Remember, a mission trip involving family or children is best suited for a young person.
It makes them feel like they have “skin” in the game. To take a child on a trip that does not fit them or their personality is asking for disaster. Throughout the process of inviting children to be on mission, make sure they are included.
Be realistic and know your own capacity.
Can you deal with being tired and emotionally or spiritually spent plus oversee a little one?
Invite the Lord to move in you and your child and to encounter Him together.
There is nothing like letting a child see you come to the end of yourself and rely on God in a mission-setting environment. It can truly build their faith walk and draw both of you closer together.
Think of these young people and what they did in the hands of their Maker:
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1)…Samuel (1 Samuel 3)…Mary (Luke 1:35-38)…Mephibosheth (that’s in 2 Samuel 9!)…King Josiah (2 Chronicles 34-35)…the boy Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-47)…the boy who provided the fish and loaves to feed 5,000 people (John 6:8-11). Then there’s David, the 12 disciples, so many of the young people Jesus healed…on and on…
And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?
I look forward to the next time I get to travel with one of my children doing missions. It’s different at every stage of childhood, but well worth the spiritual investment.
Paige Kolb is the president of SureFire Prayer International, a ministry that equips and trains families and leaders to practically bring biblical truth and prayer back into everyday life. Paige’s philosophy: “Healthy families make for healthy churches. I believe worldwide revival will be released when we help leaders and parents rediscover practical ways to bring prayer back into today’s busy homes. Paige was once a writer for CNN and on-air correspondent for CNNRadio. She is a wife to her supportive husband, Luke, and mom to two amazing kids. The Kolbs attend Lilburn Alliance Church in the Atlanta area. You may contact her at here to find out about her speaking, training, and travel schedule.