Middle School Mission Trip (SERVE) Testimony
Posted in Serve |

Middle School Mission Trip (SERVE) Testimony

In the summer of 2013, I went on my fifth middle school mission trip. It was my seventh Serve in the past five years and my eighth overall. Why do I keep going? As someone who struggles with energy on a regular basis, I can honestly say that a Serve experience is one of the highlights of my year. The youth are so full of the Spirit during that week that it’s contagious. Between working together, praising together, playing games together, the energy and spirit that is passed on is truly God-given. At one middle school Serve we met a woman who, along with her husband, had adopted… Read More

A Look at Middle School Serve
Posted in Serve |

A Look at Middle School Serve

The relationships and friendships of Serve that last long beyond the summer are just one of the awesome reasons why we, here at Friendship CRC, host middle school Serve year after year.   As a Host Team, we seek to provide a time of worship that is authentic and transparent, a worship experience that facilitates the work of the Holy Spirit in the transformation of young people’s lives. We laugh and we cry as we share our struggles with one another; we talk through the hard stuff and reveal some of the deepest parts of our hearts. As we empty the hearts of these young people,… Read More

Fast Without the Furious
Posted in Serve |

Fast Without the Furious

A pastor I’ve known for a long time challenged me to fast periodically. I used to grit my teeth and commit to grind out the duration of the fast, believing it was good for expanding my heart’s passion for the Lord and compassion for others. I joked about reversing the Daniel Fast and only eating meats and sweets. Of all the spiritual disciplines, fasting is the one I’ve struggled with the most. In the book, Fast Living, I finally caught a glimpse of fasting that touched my heart and moved me to a more genuine act of worship. The author points out that there are moments in the… Read More

To Serve Again
Posted in Serve |

To Serve Again

A true Californian boy with blonde hair and blue eyes gleefully posed for the camera in a shirt that reads “Canada”, the rest of his features covered by a classic moustache disguise – this is the way most people at Serve know John Brouwer.   A playful character who is always willing to dance along to a Justin Bieber song, John’s heart is as big as the bright smile that lights up his face whenever he interacts with his friends.   His friends are the other special-needs campers attending Youth Unlimited’s Special Needs Serve, a weeklong overnight camp for… Read More

Faith For Life
Posted in Serve |

Faith For Life

Have you ever heard the phrase, “words and pictures don’t do it justice”? That is how I feel right now as I type this post. You see, last summer I had the joy of traveling to many Serve Sites, The Chicago Project and Live It. I witnessed students commit their lives to Jesus Christ, seek out prayer for challenging life experiences, and reflect Christ’s love by playing with children, sorting clothes at thrift stores, painting widows’ houses and serving food to those living on the streets.   The Youth Unlimited team is full speed ahead preparing for another exciting… Read More

Divine Normal: Kingdom Living by Mere Mortals
Posted in Serve |

Divine Normal: Kingdom Living by Mere Mortals

We recognize that it can be hard for high school students to feel as though they are truly living for Christ and for the Kingdom. On youth mission trips students often hear the invitation to go into all the world with the gospel. Youth leaders and speakers clearly present Christ’s words to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. But that can make it sound like missional living requires world travel and gospel preaching on a diet of bugs. That might be either scary or exciting, but it’s not an accurate picture of Kingdom impact for everyone.   Students can get… Read More

Bridging the Gap
Posted in Serve |

Bridging the Gap

Every summer a group of students and leaders from our church embarks on a service opportunity through Youth Unlimited. We have chosen our location carefully, prayed and prepared ourselves for the week ahead. As we gather in the church parking lot—bags full, a bit anxious, unsure of what to expect—we wonder what lies ahead. The series of emotions, experiences, stories, and worship that unfolds throughout the week is invaluable and impactful. There is something about intentionally setting aside our busy lifestyles—cell phones, internet, our usual routines—that allows us to become… Read More

From Fast and Furious to Just Being: A Serve Story
Posted in Serve |

From Fast and Furious to Just Being: A Serve Story

Going on Serve is great. One of my favorite parts about Serve is not the delicious food, not meeting up with new leaders, not joining in the impromptu volleyball games (although all these things are great and inevitably always present in abundance!). I love all these things for sure; but one of my favorite things about Serve is that I get to rent a van.   Yeah, that’s right: I get to rent a van. Great stuff happens in a van full of eager and excited students. There’s the singing, the endless containers of cookies, the stories, the Madlibs, the coloring contests (these are… Read More

The Unexpected Prairie
Posted in Serve |

The Unexpected Prairie

When asked to think about cultural diversity, most people understandably think about urban communities with people from all sorts of different backgrounds. But increasingly, this same diversity can be found in the rural communities out on the northern plains as well. Many of our neighbors come from Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, and they bring with them a wealth of diversity, cultural strengths and Kingdom cooperation. The native people settled here because they loved, even worshipped, the sun. They took advantage of the natural resources the land provided. Today, the descendants… Read More

What Youth Leaders Really Want in a Mission Experience
Posted in Serve |

What Youth Leaders Really Want in a Mission Experience

With the goal of continual improvement in mind, Youth Unlimited asked ten Sending Church youth leaders to explain what they hope for in a North American mission experience. Here’s a glimpse at their answers.   TRUST: Taking a group on a trip means that you must trust the leaders who will guide you through the experience once you arrive. It’s nearly impossible to have a great trip without a good host organization or church to guide you. That’s why Youth Unlimited is dedicated to building strong Host Church teams. A new Host Church learns the best practices of short-term… Read More

Learning, Growing, Serve-ing – Hosting a Special Needs Serve
Posted in Serve |

Learning, Growing, Serve-ing – Hosting a Special Needs Serve

Special Needs Serve is tiring, emotional, and frustrating at times, and yet it is the highlight of my year!   I am amazed at all of the things that God has taught me. Over the last five years I have grown in my understanding of my own faith, my relationship with God and others, have experienced God in surprising places and have had a lot of fun in the process. (Never underestimate the fun factor!)   I work to orchestrate a Special Needs Serve that incorporates special planning and support in addition to the typical Serve template.   Youth mentors are important… Read More

The Story Behind the Service
Posted in Serve |

The Story Behind the Service

God’s story of redemption is the most powerful love story that we can share with one another. As youth leaders, we desire to share God’s story, and engaging students in experiences like Serve is a way for them to connect with God personally. It is an honor to serve alongside students and share with them in witnessing God’s redemptive work in new communities across the country. Those stories are what kept me involved with Serve for seven years and eventually led me to my career in youth ministry. Serve is known for setting up great worksites like building houses, or working in… Read More