How to Add Missions to Your Ongoing Student Ministry

Teaching students about missions is important. No, it is more than important; it is vital. Vital to a world full of people who don’t know Jesus.

I know students don’t always have an opportunity (or let’s be honest, the desire) to come to a missions class. Adding one more activity on top of band, basketball, and debate team just doesn’t happen. 

But if we believe teaching about missions is crucial to the future of the church, we need to get creative in the ways we teach.

Can you teach missions in the midst of what you are already doing? Can we make disciples of our students and teach them to live on mission even when we are competing with so many other activities?

The answer is YES!

You can add these things to what your church already provides through its student ministry.

Ask the youth pastor or Bible study teacher if you can have five minutes during a class. Chances are they agree on the importance of teaching about missions. Make sure you approach them with an open mind and share the great ideas and/or resources you have, along with your willingness to help them teach students how to live on mission.

Let’s think about how Jesus taught His disciples to do missions.

  • He modeled missions
  • He talked with them about missions
  • He provided opportunities for them to get involved in missions

So how can we take these three examples and apply them to our students?


1. Model Missions

Let students see you praying for missionaries, getting involved in missions whenever possible, and sharing Jesus with folks around you every day. If students see you excited about missions, it will encourage them to be, as well.


2. Talk About Missions Often

Look for opportunities to talk about missions:

  • Get students talking about their daily lives. Talk about how they can share the gospel through their attitudes, their actions, and their conversations. Remind them that everything they do is a testimony of some kind. What kind of testimony are they showing the world?
  • As you are reading a Bible story, discuss how the people involved shared the truth about God with others or how they didn’t.
  • Share a story about missionaries from one of the WMU magazines.
  • Take 5–10 minutes and teach students about the great ministry of WorldCrafts by finding an activity here. I personally like the matching game. (Just don’t tell your students you found it under the preschool heading. They’ll never know!) It’s a simple way to introduce anyone to WorldCrafts and let them put actual faces with what they are learning.
  • Send students a text or a card during the week telling them you are praying for them as they strive to share Jesus in their daily lives. I know, snail mail seems old school, but my teenagers love to get a card in the mail!
  • Teach students about Pure Water, Pure Love using the video and other information available here
  • Many youth groups have a Facebook page. Ask if you can share a missionary story once a week. Engage: Refugees has some incredible stories that you could share with your students.


3. Provide Opportunities for Students to Get Involved in Missions

Students need the opportunity to get involved in all kinds of missions activities so they don’t get the idea that it is only for that full-time missionary serving in Africa. They need to know that missions is something they can do.

Pray for Missionaries

How many of us know a sweet “older” lady who prays for the missionaries having birthdays every day? Why does she do that? I think there are two reasons: she knows it is important and she has made it a habit.

Look for opportunities to teach your students the importance of praying for missionaries. This could be at the end of a Sunday School lesson, during Wednesday night mealtime, after youth praise team practice, and of course, during your missions classes.

Try to find a current or former missionary (or a missionary’s family member) to come and share why praying for missionaries matters. Ask WMU members to help you find a missionary.

Help students make praying for missionaries a habit by providing opportunities to pray. 

Visit the Missionary Prayer Calendar to find the names of NAMB and IMB missionaries listed on their birthdays.

  • Print out the names and where they serve, put them on colored paper and have everyone draw a name out of a hat to pray for that week.
  • Put the names in balloons and then blow up the balloons. At the end of your class, release the balloons and let the students pop them to find names to pray for during that week.
  • Put a map in the hall near where your youth group meets with names of missionaries on sticky notes on the countries or regions where they serve. Ask your students to take home a name each week and pray for that missionary.
  • Ask different students to be in charge of coming up with a creative way to pray for missionaries.
  • Text the name(s) of a missionary to your students to pray for during the week.


Plan a Missions Activity or Event 

There are so many ways to do this and they don’t have to be “go big or go home.”

You CAN find ways to teach students about missions. When they get excited about missions, whether that means praying for missionaries or putting on a grass skirt to raise money for Pure Water, Pure Love, things are going to happen!

Melissa Lamb is a bi-vocational pastor/rancher’s wife living close to nowhere in Eastern New Mexico. She and her husband, Beau, have a grown daughter and two teenage boys…and they all love missions!



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