Trinity Lutheran College is continuing its study on what makes service projects and mission trips transformational. It’s all part of the SALLT (Service And Learning Leadership Team) program. What they have found is so vital that they have even developed and APP to help leaders through this process. Check it out at www.sallt.org/store.
This information was so vital that we structured the Practice Justice day at the last Lutheran National Youth Gathering all around this four-step process. It’s what I taught the Servant Companions to do as part of their day as they walked beside young people as they entered into the community of New Orleans. (Check our more of this project at http://sallt.org/training_options/PDFs/Service_Learning_Field_Guide.pdf)
What they have found is something that many of you have been naturally doing for year. The great news is that we can now all do it on purpose. They have found that service and mission events need a four-step process to become transformational. These steps are:
· Preparation: Anticipation of, and preparation for, a service experience.
· Action: Engaging in a meaningful service.
· Reflection: Process of deep reflection and learning during and following a service experience.
Celebration: Recognizing the ministry that has been accomplished through the service experience.
In order to be transformational we must first prepare individuals for their experience. Where will they be going? Who are we serving? Why is what we are doing is important?
Then there is the actual action of the event. However, this is only the beginning. We must follow this with some intentional time of reflection. What was your experience? Where did you see God? Why was this important to you? How has this changed the way your view the world? Give the participants time not only to do this personally but also communally. Give them the opportunity to share with one another. This leads us into our final step of celebration.
Then don’t forget to have a time of celebration! It is vital for individuals to celebrate what God has done through them and for them. This can be at the end of your event with the community that you have just interacted with AND with your home community. Telling the story and celebrating together is very powerful. Don’t miss the wonderful things that can come from celebrating!
Like I said before, many of you have already been doing these four steps. But it’s very affirming to see that all four steps are vital. Pre-event parent meetings, bible studies, journal books, testimonies, stockholder’s meetings and the like are all valuable and helpful for this transformational process.
So will this change how you plan for service projects and mission trips? Have you skipped one of these steps and really felt it impacted your event? Why do you think all four steps are vital?
Take some time and … think about it!
Neil Christians is one of the awesome FirstThird Voices for 2013. He does mission and blogs from Charlotte, NC.