Student ministry leaders spend a lot of time researching different camp and mission trip options for their summer events. With so many feasible options available, it can be a little overwhelming. To alleviate any confusion and make your decision a little easier we’re blogging about what to expect at World Changers Construction, Church Planting and Urban projects. This post is about our Urban Projects, but you can read more about Church Planting and Construction projects on their respective blog posts.
World Changers Urban projects incorporate more training and cultural experiences by connecting students to ministry in an urban environment. Groups do spend time serving with partnering ministries, but less time than a construction or church planting project. There is more time dedicated to learning about the city from local practitioners and how that impacts ministering to people in those communities. Our desire is for students to learn and experience how the power of the gospel is alive and real across cultures, socioeconomic lines, races, neighborhoods and cities. We want students to leave considering how they will meet the felt needs and share the gospel with others through their future volunteer activities and even careers.
World Changers staff, City Mentors will discuss with group leaders about their options for ministry sites. They will provide a list of options and the group leader will have freedom to choose sites that best fit the goals and overall strategy for their group. Because culture and context vary city to city, Atlanta and Philadelphia offer different ministry site activities and daily schedules.
Possible ministry site activities: refugee ministry, homeless ministry, local food banks, medical missions organizations
To minimize the stress on a group leader to prepare their group, World Changers provides several resources. A comprehensive Group Leader Manual with policies, what to bring lists, etc. well in advance of the trip. We also provide a Pre-Project Study which includes several devotionals and a parent meeting outline. The City Mentor will begin communicating with leaders in January. They or other staff will be serving groups on site and are readily available to keep leaders informed and questions answered.
You can find the full schedule here (about the middle of the page). You may notice that there are no times currently provided on the schedule. Staff will communicate detailed schedules to leaders in advance, but we’ve given freedom for Atlanta and Philadelphia to modify schedules and times to fit their context. Ministry can’t always be put into a box, but must be flexible in order to best meet the needs of a city. Groups will do everything together. It is possible that other registered churches will also be residing in the same facility and participating in the different Community Talks and trainings. Mostly like your church will participate independently, as a group for most activities.
Here are brief descriptions of the different schedule elements shown on the schedule:
This element of the schedule is focused on providing participants with firsthand interaction with experienced individuals who are on the ground in the city where projects take place. These talks involve instruction, interaction and assignments designed to drive home the overall themes of the week.
These are times when the City Mentor and/or Group Leaders provides some explanation around an experience that has taken place during that day. This is an open time when questions that arise can be answered or explored so that students have a better grasp.
Cross-Cultural Worship Experiences
This is an intentional time when church groups are paired up with a church within the community that is different from what participants are familiar with. For example, if the group is a rural caucasian congregation, this presents an opportunity to worship in an urban African American church for that Sunday. The City Mentor will coordinate these connections.
Walk in Another’s Shoes
This element is one of the most important of the week. This is an exercise focused on taking the participant out of their comfort zone through an intentional exercise within the context. This aspect of the week helps participants develop empathy towards marginalized communities where they have been immersed. This could be riding the subway, or eating on a limited budget for the day or experiencing life through the eyes of the homeless for an afternoon.
The City Mentors in each city will work to connect each group with a church, para-church or nonprofit ministry for the week. Participants will have opportunities to both serve and learn what it means to do incarnational ministry within a given context.
The culmination of a week ends with a group project that allows students to express their understanding of what they’ve learned throughout the week in an artistic project. The Mosaic can be music, a poem, rap, dance or paint project, etc. There are ideas within the participant booklet.
Daily Journaling/Devotion Time
Participants will be experiencing a lot of things for the first time and journaling about those events will be incredibly important. There will be opportunities to create memories throughout the week. The daily devotional time will be focused on opening up their understanding of why missional/incarnational ministry is so vitally important. The devotional guide will walk students through many of the themes introduced in the Pre-Project Study.
Lodging for urban projects is in the city. It is important that if groups are going be immersed in the culture and ministry of a city that they also reside there. Groups stay in classrooms, bringing their own bedding such as air mattresses and a sleeping bag or blankets. Separate areas for boys and girls are designated by staff. Food is contracted with cafeteria staff, church staff or a local caterer. The lodging auditorium or sanctuary is typically where any large group gatherings take place. When possible students will have access to a gym during free time.
This video shares a little bit more about World Changers!