It was the second to last night of our mission trip to St. Louis and I had an idea.
“Let’s go get some ice cream,” I said. “Who wants to go?”
About half of the students gathered mumbled interest. “I’m buying,” I added. Suddenly everyone was jumping up and heading to the van. We drove to McDonalds and spent the next 20 minutes waiting for dollar soft-serve ice cream cones and goofing off. We even posed for this picture.
On the way back, we laughed and gawked and carried on. It was a great bonding experience that was sorely needed on our trip. A few weeks later, we’re still talking about our impromptu McDonald’s trip, our dinner at Pappy’s Smokehouse and a quick trip to 7/11 for slushies.
Those aren’t ministry moments you share in the mission trip service, but they are vital components to our youth mission trip to St. Louis. Those bonding times will last long after the names of the kids and places we served fade from our collective memory. It leaves a lasting impression of a trip worth taking and an experience to never forget.
Sometimes in ministry we miss the moments of hilarity and bonding. We want to emphasize growth and spiritual maturity. Those things are important. But let’s not discount the moments of levity in the trip. Those stories are the glue that holds youth groups together.
Yes, we did awesome ministry. We served the people of St. Louis and grew closer to Christ as we followed his command to serve. We also had a fun time doing it and grew closer to one another in the goofball moments of the trip.
On the highlight video, I made a point of including some of our goofball photos. The ice cream photo is there. So is a shot from our BBQ dinner. I want our students to remember those moments and I want our congregation to see some of our moments of levity.
So as summer draws to a close and school ramps back up, let’s take some time to remember the fun stories of this summer. Whether it’s a trip to McDonalds, a massive shaving cream war or just an embarrassing video of you dancing at camp, don’t discount the memories those events have or the impact it will have on your group.