"Being a rookie in full time youth ministry and seeing first hand students jump to any task on the rural mission field was astounding. These were city kids who saw the needs of rural families and served to meet physical needs which opened doors to help them address their spiritual needs as well. I can think of no better way to invest your time and resources than on a rural mission field. These students were able to bless an entire community, a community that was sad to see them go and anxious for their return. This rural mission trip equips the students for a life of ministry as the mission mindset is brought back home and students seek out ways to serve at home also. Rural missions rocks!"
Christ Church Federal Way, WA
It has been 5 months and the students are still talking about it. Last month we baptized about a dozen high school students, and a significant number of them pointed to our trip to Orofino as the turning point in their lives. The best thing is that they’re still growing! One guy came to Christ, a number of students came back to Christ; all are still following Him.
We just got back from a summer of four weeks of whitewater rafting camps, and it was fun to include a number of Orofino students in those camps. They were so eager to come, and it was so good for our students to engage them in those ways. Many of those students are continuing to grow in Christ in fresh ways: they're reading their Bibles, connected to youth group, etc.
We also continue to see the fruit of the trip in the lives of our students. We have always had some students that have done a good job of 'ministering' to other students, but this was the first summer where that became part of our group culture. On our camps this summer, we saw many students come to Christ for the first time or come back to Christ and grow, and most of those 'decision' moments happened with other students in the lead. It was so enjoyable to watch our students care for the needs of other peers.
I believe the momentum for that came through our trip that you facilitated. Your experience and idea base was so valuable. Our service projects were truly meaningful to the community, our evening outreaches drew many unchurched students, and our daily Bible studies and weekend retreat were especially helpful to those who were already trying to follow Christ. We work really hard to make genuine disciples year round, but I think that this was the most spiritually significant thing we have done in the last four years.
Thanks for the resources, the ideas, and the helpful details. Most of all, thanks for the vision to do it! It was a trip our students will never forget!
Rob Trenkman & his dog Bailey
Glenwood Community Church
When it comes to assisting youth leaders to effectively minister to youth, Tom Horton and Rural Church Youth Ministries is a great resource, partner, and friend. Students and adults that participated in past ministry camps continue to share how meaningful these experiences have been for them - and they look forward to opportunities to return each year.
In addition to the ministry that our group has been able to participate in years past, ministry camps have also fostered wonderful relationships between members of our church and the host church in a rural community where we have served. I would encourage any youth leader looking to provide their group with a mission opportunity that is LOW COST and HIGH IMPACT to learn more about ministry camps - because this is exactly what they deliver!
Director of Youth Ministries
North Creek Presbyterian Church
Mill Creek, Washington
Ministry camps proved to be the single most valuable event we have done in over 20 years of youth ministry. We participated in 5 ministry camps to the Methow Valley. These events had huge impact on the community we worked in as we conducted VBS in the morning and did service projects and evangelistic events in the afternoon. The greatest impact was felt by our team. Working together to share Christ in this small community strengthened the faith and improved the cohesiveness of our students. (Since our rural church housed us and fed us this was also the least expensive event we did all year.) Thanks Tom for introducing us to the ministry camp experience. "
Former Youth Director North Kitsap Baptist &
Camp Director of Lake Retreat Bible Camp
As a veteran to the Rural Church Youth Ministries mission trip experience I don’t know which life changing story to tell. What I can tell you is that each trip experience for my students and for me has carried its own special moments. I have had the privilege of leading seven of these trips in two states and two rural areas; Enterprise , OR and Grantsburg , WI . Each year has given students the opportunity to lead their peers to Christ, which led to parents and neighbors coming to Christ. Each trip stretched the capabilities of students and leaders.
Rural Missions are the central component of our youth ministry’s discipleship. It is my opportunity to turn students loose in their gifting and let them experience blessings and discouragements. Frankly, I am not good at setting up foreign missions and the Lord knew that… He opened the door for me to offer opportunity to my students and parents to experience missions closer to home to spark interest in those who would be led by the Lord to go beyond our borders.
If you want feedback about this ministry then call me… this short “bio” is not enough to capture the eternal impact of my experiences. My name is Dan Jester and I approved this message!
It was 8 years ago that we first contacted Tom about doing a rural church mission trip. That summer and every year since, we've gone to the same church and rural community ; often multiple times throughout the year to serve and reach out to the community. What a blessing this has been for us and for them. Because the cost is low and the impact so high, we've been able to serve in some incredible ways and see God work in the lives of a lot of students over the years.
New Heights Church
From the first time I began planning a mission trip sixteen years ago, God impressed on me that going a long distance or out of the country was not necessary. We coordinated several trips on our own before I received information about Rural Church Youth Ministries sometime around 2002. The next school year I called Tom and was so glad to have a resource to help focus our trips and provide training and insight. We do different styles of mission trips to meet different needs and expose our students to a broad range of experiences. My favorite trips are RCYM style trips because students can actually do the ministry. Adults shift to a support role filling in where students need us. Our students come home knowing that they made an impact for God's Kingdom and they are capable of doing the same thing at home. Rural ministries is a win - win opportunity.
Youth Pastor at Ten Mile Community Church
I receive about 5 pieces of mail each week telling me about the new latest thing in youth ministry. Unfortunately a lot of them are not centered on the task of "making disciples". Making disciples is what God wants for me as a youth pastor and the Rural Church Youth Ministry trip we took to Montana this summer was the perfect thing for making disciples. Our students put on a VBS at a local church.
They did the prep, they did the work and God did the rest. Our teens shared the Gospel during the story time in our week. They got to pray with the kids, get them a bible and talk with the family about the decision the child made. This was life changing for some of them. We had two girls that had given their lives to Christ only a couple months before the trip share their testimonies with a group and watch God use that to call someone else into relationship with Him.
Our team did a community outreach at a local park and God used this to speak powerfully into the lives of our teens and those who came to receive. I cannot say enough about RCYM's training material and ministry vision. It was perfect for our youth and our church. As an associate pastor my time is pulled in many different directions. I appreciated being able to pick up God centered training materials and just run with them. Thanks Tom!
Here are just some of the things God did during our time in Cutbank, Montana:
1. Allowed our youth to experience Him working through them
2. Transformed the lives of children and their families in a local church
3. Formed a ministry partnership between us and the church we served in
4. Used the ministry model of our youth team to spark a fire in local parents (they are starting a youth group and we get to help them walk through that)
5. Prepared our ministry team for the coming school year by refining their focus on sharing the Gospel with their friends.
Our youth are already planning next year's trip! I am excited to see what God will do!
Aaron Rutledge - Associate Pastor of Youth and Families
Living Faith Community Church - Philomath, OR
Here's a review of our last four Mission Trips to Fairfield, Idaho:
I met Tom at the Northwest Christian Education Conference back in 2007. At the time, I didn't have a mission trip set-up for the spring. Tom shared with me Rural Church Youth Ministries. I liked the concept of helping pastors in small communities and asked Tom to connect our church in Tacoma, WA with a small rural church.
Tom connected our church with Community Church in Fairfield, Idaho. Pastor Chuck asked us to help with Vacation Bible School and reach out to the teens in Fairfield. We enjoyed our experience and returned to Fairfield in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Youth at our church have kept in contact with teens in Fairfield in between visits and look forward to the mission trip. My favorite part of the trip is watching youth from our church and Community Church get excited about what God is doing in their lives.
Take time to consider a mission trip to a rural area. Feel free to ask questions about any of the mission trips shared on this site. May God bless your future mission trips.
Brent Fazio, Youth Pastor
Fellowship Bible Church in Tacoma, WA
From Brandon Campbell
Last year was a brutal experience in planning missions. I spent the entire first half of the year with plans falling through. Somebody told me about Tom and going on a rural trip. I have to admit, I was skeptical about going rural. My only experience was global missions and I really wondered if my students would rally behind going on a rural mission trip. I could not have been more wrong. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had with a group of my students. I have never seen them work harder or take their faith more seriously. For them, going somewhere where the people speak the same language opened up a lot of opportunities to share the gospel. There is so much need in the rural communities. I highly recommend taking a group!
Last spring break our youth group traveled the three hours to the small town of Elma, WA. Even though Elma and our town are relatively the same size they feel very different. Our town is a suburb of Seattle and in the shadow of Microsoft. Elma feels like it is from another time. Life seems much slower and simpler and even with all the social media connections that abound.
Our team was comprised of 21 high school students, three adult overseers, and a token junior high girl. Our students worked hard for two months before the trip meeting each week to plan out the talks, choose the worship songs, pick games that would be the best draw, assign small groups facilitators along with the many other details that the trip required. Our team featured students who grew up into the church to a girl who didn’t know Jesus 10 months earlier. Almost without exception when asked, “Why do you want to do this trip?” they would say, “Because it scares me and God wants me to do it.” To say they were excited is an understatement.
Our group put on youth program each night and did service projects around the community during the days. The church that hosted us averaged about 60 people each Sunday morning with their youth group averaging about 12 students, high and junior high combined. The ladies of the church cooked for us each meal with food donated by various churches and the food bank.
So what was the outcome? We had over 400 students attend over the four nights. 22 accepted Christ as the Lord of their life and dozens rededicated themselves to Him.
These numbers are what we hoped and prayed for but we also saw extra benefits. One was that leaders from 5 churches who didn’t know each other before we came worked together to work and bless this effort. Another was that the local students in the community were ignited to develop a way that their youth groups would serve another community. And finally that our students were challenged, stretched, and used in mighty ways. They couldn’t wait to return next year.