11 Jun 2019

3 Questions to Ask Before You Plan a Youth Trip

Founder Raul Rivera

We all know the summer is a very busy season for our youth groups. This is usually the time we see many churches sending off young people for mission trips all across the country.

They go to serve, encourage, and uplift people with a great need for God. There’s nothing quite like the excitement in the air as parents drop their teens off at church, praying for them as they set off to change the world. They leave with hopeful hearts and eager anticipation, knowing they are all headed for an adventure with God. And every parent knows their children will return changed in the best possible way.

Without a shadow of a doubt, these kinds of trips are needed. However, I would like to pose a question to you: how is your church preparing for such an adventure this summer?

At StartCHURCH, we want your youth trip to be as successful as it can be. So, please consider the three following questions to provide protection for the youth, volunteers, and the church.

Three important questions

Question 1: Has everyone signed a permission form?

The greatest responsibility for any missions trip leader is to bring everyone back safe and sound. This is why I always suggest using permission forms for all trips. In case of an emergency, it is crucial to have all the information you need ready and available. You would not want to be scrambling around looking for emergency contacts, medical information, etc. This form is a great tool to help in a moment of crisis.

I know that for many, forms can be tiresome to fill out and hard to keep track of. However, they are necessary. Every church has the responsibility to make sure a permission form is filled out and signed by the parents of each participant on a trip. As well, it is important to double-check the emergency contact information. This can save valuable time should an accident occur.

Permission forms should be able to answer “who, what, when, why, and how.”

  • Who: The permission form is intended for parents or guardians of minors who are going on either a long or short trip away from church grounds. This form is also useful for any activities that take place on church property.
  • What: The purpose of this form is for parents or guardians to give consent for their children to participate in activities with the church. Again, these activities may or may not be held inside the church.
  • When: I recommend that these forms be distributed several weeks in advance, but no later than one week prior to the event. Several weeks gives plenty of time for the parents or guardians to look over the form, become familiar with the event, and decide whether or not their children will participate.
  • Why: Implementing these forms will protect the church in general. First and most importantly, they can permit a minor to be taken to a hospital for emergency medical care if it is needed. They also serve to guard any of the church’s drivers against liability issues when transporting minors. Finally, they prove helpful in determining who will be attending the trip or event so that those in charge can plan accordingly.
  • How: Keep this form on file and ready to print as needed. As I mentioned before, be sure to give plenty of time when you announce a trip or event so that the participants can easily plan ahead. It is also a good idea to review the forms in case something is missing so it can be corrected. Send off day is not the best time to collect or review forms.

To read more about the importance of permission forms, please check out our blog, Kentucky Court Delivers Blow to Church Release Forms.

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Question 2: Has every volunteer completed a background check?

The volunteers who serve in the youth ministry should be individuals who have a heart for teens and a desire to raise up the next generation. This is why it is ideal to have volunteers complete background checks before beginning to serve at any trip or event. Even if you know the volunteer well, it should still be a regular policy to have everyone who wants to serve to complete a background check. You infuse confidence in parents, team members, and the church as a whole by doing background checks, especially on those that will be traveling with the youth.

Also, it is important to check your state’s regulations on volunteers that work with children. Requirements vary by state. In fact, in some states, you are required to take several steps before your mission trip starts.

For example, in Pennsylvania, if you volunteer to work with children in any way, you have to pass a child abuse history clearance. These clearances must be stored at the church. Volunteers who are working with children without the appropriate clearances could face financial penalties. To learn more about this requirement, please visit http://keepkidssafe.pa.gov.

Question 3: Is your insurance up to date?

Incorporating at the state is a critical first step for any church or ministry. Why? Because by incorporating your church, you have protected yourself and your board members from being held personally liable if, God forbid, something were to happen. This protection is known as the corporate veil.

Our clients, who use the StartRIGHT Service don’t have to worry about handling the process of incorporation all on their own.

Along with establishing a corporate veil, it is also best practice to obtain a church insurance policy to protect your church in case anything happens. Insurance is an important step to take to ensure you are protecting your church in the best possible way.

If you are interested in finding out more about church liability insurance, please read, Church Liability Insurance: One Step, One Huge Relief.

Before your trip starts, please consider reviewing your insurance policy to make sure that the specific kind of activity is covered. You want to make sure you update the policy as needed. It’s vital to take steps now to ensure confidence through a crisis.

Prepare for great things

In Matthew 28, Jesus reminds us of the Great Commission: to “go and make disciples of all nations.” And while this calling is for all of us, young and old, when a young person wants to follow this call so early in life, it surely is something worth celebrating!

God has called your church or ministry to do great things in His name, and I urge you to keep these questions in mind when preparing for a trip.

At StartCHURCH, we care about the success of your ministry, and we want to help you do great things. I encourage you to call us at 877-494-4655 to learn how our services can help your church or ministry thrive. Or, schedule a call to have a specialist reach out to you! We’re here to help you make sure you have everything you need to make these trips a great success this summer. Dream big, dream bold!

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera


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