Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Come serve with us in Motown!

Big things have been brewing here at the Center for Student Missions! There have been murmurings and whispers of a new member making its way into the CSM family. After much thought, prayer and the combined efforts of many, we are excited to announce that we are moving forward with a year-round, full-time site in the city of Detroit, Michigan! We are so excited to welcome Detroit to the family. It took some time, but through God’s grace and blessings, we can now get to work in “Motor City!”

“CSM never goes where we are not invited by indigenous leaders,” says Dan Reeve, President of CSM. “Honestly, so many ministries asked us to come serve with them that it felt like the Apostle’s call in Acts 16:9: ‘come over to Macedonia and help us!”

Emily Hoffman, a native to the city, will be CSM Detroit’s founding City Director. Hoffman helped to facilitate three separate CSM service trips this past summer and will now continue to do so long-term.

“CSM has proved to be great fit for Detroit,” says Hoffman. “Connections with ministry partners have been God-orchestrated and mutually beneficial to both our groups and their organizations. I’m excited about establishing relationships with even more ministries in the city and seeing future CSM groups make an even greater kingdom impact!”

CSM will begin accepting registrations immediately for Detroit trips booked as soon as October 2014 and beyond! Groups as small as seven total people can serve as short as 24 hours.

“Detroit and its many ministries really do need you to serve alongside them in bringing Shalom to this needy city,” says Reeve.

Come serve with us in Motown, and let’s see what God’s doing!

For more information or to learn how your group can serve with CSM in Detroit, please visit, call 267-928-2620 or email

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Opening Ears (and Hearts)

Ever since I was a little boy I always thought that being a pastor must be one of the hardest jobs to have. Spending a whole week in preparation for one hour of speaking, reading and re-reading the Bible, and meeting with a lot of people. I had no idea how it could be done.

I had never thought about the fact we have a God who speaks to us and likes to do so. Now, I knew that God spoke to us, but I had thought I pretty much knew what He had to say to me. “Be a good person, serve, love, ...” so at one point I stopped listening in church. I went through the motions and then I would go out and serve without getting filled back up. That was one system that was not really working for me.

Something was different this Sunday at church, though. I decided I was going to be focused about what the pastor had to say. It was amazing. Listening to what God was saying to him about a verse was different than what God was saying to me about the verse.

That is when it clicked for me. We are always learning because our God is a LIVING God who teaches us things all the time. We just have to be open to listening to what He has to say. When I make the choice to open up to what God has to say it makes my week and life so much more enjoyable.

So as this summer is drawing near to a close, I encourage you to be open to what God can teach in the few weeks that we have left. 

It will be life changing.

- Logan, CSM Nashville Summer 2014 City Host

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

5 Ways to Get Students Excited about Missions

Going on a mission trip can create life long changes in the hearts, minds and lives of students. Here are 5 ways you can get them excited even before they head out!

1. Pray together!

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” Colossians 4:2

Missions should always start with prayer. Get your students excited by setting up time to pray as a group. Pray intentionally for your trip. Have students partner up and pray for one another. When you encourage honest, intentional prayer with one another, you are cementing the bond between members of your group. Encourage them to share their worries and concerns with one another but also the joys they hope to experience through going on a trip. Pray for the city you are going to; that God would continue to work and move. Pray and give thanks that God has allowed you all to be a part of what He is doing in our world. Prayer gets students excited and prepares their minds for what is ahead!

2. Build together!
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-12

It is amazing what you can discover about yourself and your team when you take the time to do team building activities. I always find it extremely exciting to work as a team and see what each others strengths are. This is a great way to get students excited about the work ahead. Help them learn about their own gifting and the gifting of their teammates. Through organizing team building activities, your students will have an opportunity to problem-solve, brainstorm and debrief, which are all essential to doing missions.

3. Share stories together!

“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” Psalm 66:16

Do you have students who have done missions before? How about leaders? What stories could they share with the group? What encouragements could they give? This is a great way to get your new students excited! Maybe they have fears or worries about the trip that can be calmed by others sharing their own experiences.

4. Fundraise together!

Fundraising can also be used as team building as you are preparing for your trip. Get your students excited by setting up fundraising activities. This will also give them the opportunity to tell others about what they are preparing to do!

Need some fundraising ideas? Here you go...

5. Serve together!

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40

Do you have a local soup kitchen or food pantry that could use some volunteers? Are there kids in your neighborhood that you could organize a backyard bible club for? Get your students excited about missions by...doing MISSIONS! One of the biggest things you will be encouraged to do by the CSM staff is to take what you have seen and learned and do it locally. You don’t have to wait until you get back. Get your students excited by starting now!

As you can see, all of these suggestions are things that should be done as a team. It is so important to have your students bond before, during, and after your trip. It creates meaningful memories and depth for all when you focus on community with one another. Most of the testimonies I have heard from trip participants haven’t been so much about the actual work done as it has been about the relationships that have been built within their team and how it translates to building relationships with people they are serving. What’s more exciting than that?!
- Marquita Farmer, CSM New York City Director

How does YOUR group prepare to serve in the city?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Make Your Mission Trip Last: 4 Ways to Take It Home

We’ve all been there: the “camp high.” We come off of an incredible experience - a week at camp, a retreat weekend, a mission trip - feeling like a new person. We commit to new ways of thinking, of acting, of treating others, of relating to God. These commitments typically last a couple of weeks and almost inevitable go by the wayside within a month. 

So how can you and your group take your mission trip home with you and make those commitments last? Here are four suggestions:

1. Pick one thing. You may have lots of commitments you want to make, and that’s great! But it’s hard to keep track of too many things, and you’re more likely to lose track of all of them. Pick one thing you most want to commit to and make that your focus. Be sure to make it specific so you can easily track your progress and stay committed (“Spend 4 hours per week doing volunteer work” or “Learn the name of the homeless man I walk by on my way to work every day and spend a few minutes talking with him each day” are better than “Serve more” or “Treat people better”). If it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing, make a list and work on one per month. This way, you can work on building habits and add onto those habits each month.

2. Talk about it. Share your experiences with people back home. Talk about the people you met, the service you did, and the things you learned. Talk about the changes you plan to make in your life. Tell as many people as you can! You might even want to have the group share about the things they’ve learned and the commitments they’ve made in church when you return. Sharing with as many people as will listen creates a huge network of people who will be able to hold you accountable, and increases the chances that you’ll stay committed. To take it one step further, pick a few people - close friends, family, mentors, etc. - and ask them to follow up with you every now and then.

3. Pray about it. No matter how hard we strive, we can’t do our best work on our own. We need God’s help to make lasting and meaningful change in our lives and the lives of those around us. Pray continually about the things you’ve learned and the commitment you’ve made. When you feel like you’re doing well, pray about it. When you feel yourself struggling or slipping, pray about it. When you’re reminiscing about your trip, pray about it. When you don’t know what else to do, pray about it. Accept that you need God’s help, and ask for it daily.

4. Keep a journal. This one requires a bit of forethought, but it’s worth it! Bring a journal with you on your mission trip and take some time to journal each day. Write about what you did, who you met, what you learned. Write about the good and the bad. Write about the things that impacted you and the things you want to remember. Then, when you get home, you’ll have something to look back on when you need a reminder.

- Jessie Palmatier, CSM San Francisco Bay Area Apprentice

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mission Trip Burn Out: 5 Ways to Fight Desensitization

by Liz Netjes

Most of us have experienced it at some point - the wave of burnout threatening to crash down on us without warning. There’s usually not an indicator, so when it hits, you’re unprepared and without a board to ride it out. 

Exhaustion and desensitization can happen in all faucets of our lives, but when it happens in missions and in relation to serving, we feel the pressure to try to hide it. It's embarrassing and difficult to admit that you've become somewhat immune to the situations and people that once broke your heart! But if those of us who frequently lead and serve on these trips all sat down and had a good conversation about it, I’d be willing to bet we have a lot of similar experiences with fatigue or a sudden insensitivity.

But the bigger question: how can we fight the burnout? How can we keep from becoming desensitized? How can we keep that broken heart for the often forgotten? How can we remain passionate while compassionate?

Here are some ways:

1. Remember why we do it. It seems too easy, but sometimes the most simple things make the largest difference. Remember to ask yourself this questions: Why do we even go on missions trips? What are we doing this for? If the first thing that pops into our head is “because it’s what we do”, “because that’s what all churches do, it’s part of it”, or “because the kids need to learn”, its time to re-evaluate. While those answers are true in part, they should not be the heart of what we do. We should be so enamored with Jesus - who He is, what He has done and continues to do - that we can hardly contain our excitement over Him. The problem for many leaders within the church is that we get bogged down with so many logistics and even rules that we forget. Our gaze shifts just a bit to the side and we lose sight of our “first love.” Maybe it would be best to simply ask Jesus to re-ignite our passion for Him.

2. Realizing our position. Shortly after performing miracles, Jesus had a conversation with His disciples in which He explains to them the position they are about to inherit: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father maybe glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:12-14). If we take a minute to dissect what Jesus is saying here, it is big enough to quite literally change our way of doing things. He makes this statement after healing incurable diseases and raising the dead.....”and you will do even bigger things than these....” Do we really believe this? Do we believe we can do even greater things than JESUS did? Do we function in this way? If we did, do you think we’d begin seeing Him work in ways so mind-blowing and earth-defying that we’d be continually excited to “Go”?

3. Community. Staying strategically connected with and to others who are doing similar things cannot be stressed enough. A close community of friends who understand and go through everything you are doing is of utmost importance when doing this kind of work. For years the church, I’ve attended has taken high schoolers on trips to Mexico. One of the best things about this group is that there is a continual flow of staff meetings and retreats and doing life together. Doing life together outside of church helps keep each other encouraged, motivated, understood, and filled. 

4. Rest and Process. Many of us wrestle with this one. We have a genuine desire to be bold and effective for the Kingdom - wanting to go and see God work. The problem comes when we get wrapped up in this head-on mentality for too long of a period of time. We stay in a state of serious depth. Our human minds and bodies can only take that for so long. At some point, we will exhaust ourselves if we aren’t careful. That is why long-term missionaries have to take “furlough”. Rest is necessary. I used to go on missions trips often. I would return to my job the morning after I got home. Every. Time. This did not leave time to rest my body and spirit and process what I had seen and experienced. Without the rest and processing, a part of my spirit shut down and did not remain soft to the things I saw that should have broken my heart before the Lord. 

5. Talk and pray about the experience. By sharing what you did, saw, and felt with others, you are re-igniting God’s passionate heart for what you did. Look at and share pictures or video from your trip. Talk about it. Continually ask others to pray with you for the people you worked with. Set aside a time or a day to specifically pray for those you interacted with. Set an alarm on your phone if you need to. Talk and prayer over it softens the spirit and keeps us compassionate and sensitive to the people and places we’re going. It’s hard to not be sensitive while continually speaking about such things.

Are there other ways that you've fought desensitization? Please share them with this community!