Reposted with permission from TEAM’s blog. Read the original article here.

By Kelsey Wales with TEAM — As a missions coach, I regularly meet high school students who are exploring what role missions could play in their life after graduation. Though the likelihood of serving overseas long-term might be years away, preparing for ministry doesn’t have to wait. Here are four things high school students can do right now to get ready for a future in missions.

1. Form a close-knit Christian community

In his book “Life Together,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds believers that community with Christ, each other and the world around us is vital to making decisions and pursuing goals.

Living life in deep community will influence your short-term decisions, like the college you choose to attend or how you interact with your neighbor. It will also affect your long-term vision for ministry and missions.

Start now by asking others to speak into your life as you speak into theirs. You don’t necessarily have to do this with a small group or Bible study, but you should form deep relationships with a few people who will journey with you in all seasons of your life.

When it’s time to make decisions about missions, your community will be there to help you move forward by validating and encouraging your calling. They will also be your accountability when ministry is tough and the mundane rhythms of life cloud your vision.

2. Engage with your local church as it engages the world

Engaging deeply with your local church won’t just benefit you now as you disciple, serve and learn. It will also pay off as you develop your vision for cross-cultural ministry down the road. Ask your church about its cross-cultural ministries in North America and abroad. Start serving now, and ask if you can explore more through an internship or volunteer position with your church’s missions leadership.

Also, look for wisdom beyond your youth group. Seek out current and former missionaries and global professionals in your congregation who can share their experiences. Ask them how they prepared to live cross-culturally and what tips they have for you as a high school student. They might also offer recommendations for books, podcasts or courses that can help you grow.

3. Get cross-cultural experience now

While in high school, take advantage of any opportunity you have to gain exposure to other cultures. If your church offers short-term mission trips, talk to your church leaders about whether one of them is right for you. If you’re interested in a certain ministry opportunity, like camp ministries, medical missions or teaching English, ask your church to help connect you with a trusted organization.

Studying abroad and international internships are also great opportunities to learn more about cultural differences and discover how your passions align with the needs of the world.

Once you return from a cross-cultural experience, ask someone to help debrief you and assess how you will move forward. (These questions might help.

4. Practice patience

If you want to serve cross-culturally for a longer term, you might be eager to jump on a plane and get started. But more often than not, there will be a period of waiting — especially if you partner with an organization and raise adequate prayer and financial support.

Ask a mentor to help you navigate the waters of pursuing big dreams while remaining patient and receptive to the lessons you need to learn while you prepare. Never underestimate the value of being the follower while you prepare to be a leader.

In his book “The In-Between,” Jeff Goins helps students and young adults consider the “in-between lessons” we experience while we work toward milestone moments such as graduating high school, finishing college, landing an epic job and even serving overseas. As exciting as those moments are, it’s often the conversations, the lessons learned and the moments of “being” rather than “doing” that make the milestones meaningful.

And in these in-between moments, don’t forget to often stop and listen. Pay attention to how God is molding you, shaping you, changing you and refining you. While you wait, he is actively preparing you for the work he has planned ahead.


More on becoming a missionary

  • Want to find more resources for becoming a missionary? Sign up for On Mission, SEND’s monthly guide for people considering cross-cultural service. Subscribe here, and as a welcome gift, you will receive a free download of a world map that highlights today’s unreached people groups. Together, we can bring them Good News. We can’t wait to join you on the journey!
  • To talk with a missions coach, fill out this quick survey. It’s a three-minute investment that could change your life.
  • Are you called to missions? Ready to serve? Financially fit? This page can help you find answers.
  • Thinking about joining a missions agency? Check out the benefits SEND offers families that join our organization.