Giving your group a great cross-cultural, life changing experience is not as scary as it sounds.
Coming to a DOOR city can help you.
We handle all the details, without micro-managing you. In fact we see it as our job to provide the outline to a great week. You'll have the lodging and food you need, you'll have the maps you'll love and you'll have staff to turn to for support. We provide programming but it is meant to highlight your experience and help you to see into the work of the city. If you want our staff to help you leading reflection times with your group, we'll be glad to.
Our City Directors are full-time DOOR city residents. It is our city. We serve with these agencies throughout the year. We network with the community of churches and social service providers year round. When you bring a group, they become a part of the work God is already doing in the city.
Our cities are exciting destinations that even the most cynical youth will appreciate the experience. Some times mission trips are to build your youth group. It is a uniquely shared experience for every one that participates. Individually it is also a safe way to move out of our comfort zones.
Registration is easy and relatively risk free. Your registration form gives us the important contact and information about your group. We do not need individual participant's names. The initial deposit gets your group on our schedule. You'll know now which week to plan on. This first payment is essentially "re-usable." Even if you had to cancel you can apply your initial deposit payment toward a future trip.
Your second payment (Mar. 1 or 10 weeks before your trip) is a $100 non-refundable payment. This allows us to plan but most importantly, allows us to commit to the local agencies and ministries your participation. Here is the entire cancellation policy.
Some people like to know "who are we?" and they're asking about our denominational affliations. We grew out of mennonite work in Denver in the 1980s. We are hosted in churches that are Lutheran, Methodist, Church of the Brethren, Presbyterian and Mennonite. We are officially nationally partnered with the Mennonite Mission Network and the Presbyterian Church. We are also partnered with the United Methodist Youthworker Movement, the Christian Reformed Church, Mission Year, and The United Church of Christ. We host Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, private schools, big public universities, and every color in between. We believe that when it all comes down, we have more in common than we do in difference.
We know you have many questions. Maybe some you haven't even thought of yet. Please do not hesitate to ask. In fact, many of the most seasoned youth leaders we know call several times to go over plans, discuss approaches, check details. So feel free to contact us, any of us, from the national calendar with Marie, to our philosophy of ministry with Glenn, to the website with Heidi or details of any city's programs with the City Directors.
Other advice to new youth leaders:
Spend time picking your other adult leaders. We ask that you bring one adult for every 5 youth. If you're bringing a middle school group, we ask you to bring 1 adult for every 4 youth. These leaders should agree with you on the purpose of the trip. They should have a good sense of safety and communication with parents.
Start your group serving in mission by serving with an organization that lives in the community year around. Yes this is what we do, others do it as well, but many don't. We think it is vitally important. Every year folks ask us to organize a custom trip to a specific location and we decline because we think that leadership should come from within the community.
Start with an experience that gives your youth a variety of activities. Not every one likes to build. Not every one like to work with kids. Give them a variety of experience.
Once you have completed a trip, set aside time to debrief the overall experience. Gather the feedback. Be sure to communicate that feedback to the local trip organizers but also use that information in looking for your next experience. Build upon what you have learned and done. Many established youth programs rotate the experience by type of work and culture. Often we see groups rotating every 4 years, one national trip in a urban setting, one year in rural setting, one year in a building project, one year to their denominational youth conference. Some spend one year working on a relief project.
Leading up to the your mission trip, weave lessons into your weekly meetings that teach your group more about the culture they'll be entering. Don't worry about creating your own. Most mission trip organizers provide pre-trip materials. If you need to create your own, start with the funny things they'll be able to find in the news or movies. Be sure to spend time in reflection highlighting the fact that TV and Movies often protray only one side of the story. Find conflicting view points. Use the story of Moses sending Joshua and the others into look around "the Holy land." They came back with all sorts tall tales.
Do any mission project in small groups. It allows for more activity, more interaction, and more reflection. Don't worry about getting 20-30 to serve at your local homeless shelter. If you do bring that many, you could likely overwhelm the staff and disrupt normal operations.