Spring Invasion guidelines for student team members:
- Sr. High Student (college, adults, families welcome too)
- Must have Passport or Passport Card.
- Active participant in local church and/or youth program
- Respectful to authority and peers
- Willing to be stretched and follow all Spring Invasion guidelines
- Has been accepted as a team member of a participating EFC-MAYM Church/Youth Group
Invasion guidelines for adult team members/leaders
- Submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ evidenced by regular Bible reading, active prayer lives, the sharing of Christ with others, and active involvement in ministry at your local church (loves the church!).
- Has servant heart, interested in missions work, and open to God’s calling in their life.
- Has skills and abilities needed to accomplish needed task(s) in leadership of the missions team and is willing/able to patiently teach and supervise students in accomplishing tasks as appropriate.
- Has respect for students, shows active interest in working with students, and desires to see them grow in their walk with the Lord.
- Has good relationship and respect for Team Leader, and willing to submit to authority.
- Willing to walk alongside students in being stretched and following Spring Invasion guidelines, including full participation in any orientation or preparation gatherings and willing to do anything that is asked of the students.
- Is of age and maturity to act as an adult leader rather than as a student.
- Is not interested because they’ve “always wanted to go to Mexico” or because it just “sounds like fun!”
- Must have Passport or Passport Card
- A background check will be run on all adults working with students at any overnight EFC-MAYM program event.
Ipods, iPhones and Cell Phones are not allowed for students at any point on the Invasion trip. Do not bring them at all! Don’t register for Spring Invasion unless you are willing to abide by this guideline. Be ready to stretch yourself and get away from the usual distractions. Plan to visit with others and avoid secluding yourself through music or in any other way for this one week. (Primary Youth leaders can plan to use their phones as they wish and can set their own group policies for fellow adult leaders on their trips but this policy should be strictly enforced for all youth.)
Depending where your team is located, some teams will get the blessing and privilege of staying in homes. No one will ever be sent out to a Mexican home alone. All Mexican host homes will be suited for a small group from our team. Very trusted pastors of Mexican Friends Churches will arrange all homes that host us. Every measure is taken for safety. We have had great experiences in the past years in safety and health.
If you stay in a host home, you are welcome to bring along a small gift (like a souvenir from your home state) to leave with a thank you note. Your registration fees includes a financial gift that will be left by the Invasion directors and pastors as appropriate, so do not leave any money with your hosts. Your hosts will be happy to have you in their homes and out of humility may not want to accept your gift when offered. The gift and a thank you note can be left on your bed the last morning you leave and the host will be blessed to find it after you have left.
In more remote Churches and Missions, the teams may stay in larger groups on floors in a house or the church.
Each Team will eat most meals together, prepared by local church people at your site. All meals are provided with your registration fee. The host churches and meal providers will be compensated well through the Invasion directors. All food served to you by the host churches will be safe and prepared properly. Hand sanitizer should be used before meals.
You will be expected to acclimate to the culture you are serving. This may mean eating food you are unfamiliar with or don’t particularly like, or participating in foreign customs. Spring Invasion’s policy is that you will be required to try all foods that are served to you and do your very best to clean your plate. You bless the cooks by eating their food, you bless the people by enjoying their culture, and you get blessed yourself because Mexican food is good!
You will be attending church at least once, if not several times. It is hard to know what we might be asked to do “on the spot” in a service. In the past, we have at times been asked for team members to introduce themselves (“Hi, my name is _____ and I’m glad to be here” or a brief testimony). Many times they request some testimonies from team members. Sometimes they ask if a team member might bring the message. They almost always welcome some singing or special music from their visitors. If you have team members that play an instrument and would like to bring it in case they have a chance to share a song or two, please do (if it will fit in your vehicle). Before each service, it is best to have a few students prepared to give testimonies or sermons, possibly making arrangements with the pastor before the service. Also, all adults should realize the possibility of being asked to share some words or at least make introductions.
Church Service Advice
Participating in regular Church Services is a highlight! Observe God’s movement amongst others and in your own heart during the service.
Worship – music in some of the Mexican Friends Churches gets to rockin’ pretty good and some dancing might come with it. When the Mexican Christians dance in any way – they are focused on worship. A common mistake from visiting Spring Invasion members is to try to show off to fellow team members, looking for their response and laugh. Church is not a rock concert, and it is offensive for anyone to behave in any way other than worship-focused. A good rule is to observe what the local Christians are doing, and not do anything too different than what they are doing. A better rule is to focus on the movement of God within your own heart in worship, and be obedient to his leading, with your own actions being led out of authentic worship.
Talking – Do not talk to each other during the service at any time. You’ll just have to wait until after the service to discuss observations. You won’t see the Mexican Christians visiting freely in the middle of church! Have your body posture, eye contact and facial expressions communicate your desire to listen and participate in worship – whether you understand what’s being said or not. If you listen close enough, you’ll hear God speaking to you even if you don’t know Spanish!
Offering – Usually, team members will not only feel a need to give of their ability, time, and talents on these trips, but will also feel compelled to give an offering. This is sometimes given in church offerings. A small donation ($1 to $5) is appropriate. Your Invasion registration already will provide appropriate host gifts and pay for our expenses. Many problems can be caused on the mission field when team members give too much or don’t give it properly – NEVER make donations to anyone without having the blessing and insight of Invasion Directors or your Primary Youth Leader first!
Telling Your Story – Your Testimony
Having your salvation testimony and a daily testimony prepared will help you minister more effectively in Mexico and will also aid you in your witness here in the States among your family and friends. You will be amazed at the impact you can have on your friends and others and on your own spiritual walk when you share your personal testimony.
Every Spring Invasion participant should prepare a testimony to be given. You may or may not have the opportunity to give your testimony. No one will be forced to give their testimony in Mexico, but you will be required to have one prepared and ready to give to at least a fellow team member.
Be flexible – The schedule may change. Our ministry may change. We might think we are doing one thing in the morning and find out by noon that the plan has changed drastically. Our experience as a missions team will be a great blessing to the Mexicans and to ourselves if we remain flexible, maintain a positive attitude, and embrace spontaneity where God needs it. Don’t ever say “But the schedule said” or “But I thought we were doing/going…” The leaders will do their best to keep you informed. Sometimes what they think we are doing changes quickly under leadership of Mexican Pastors. Be obedient to the leaders as they cater our schedule to what is best for the big-picture of ministry to the Mexican Friends community.
Stay with the team – No individual or group is allowed to leave the ministry site or activity at any time without permission from adult leaders. You need to be where you are supposed to be at all times for effective ministry and safety. At no time should ladies go anywhere without male chaperones. Stay in groups of at least 4 or 5 at all times. Each student must be responsible to check-in with adult leaders before they leave the group at any time.
Be reverent – Church buildings and grounds in Mexico must be treated with the utmost respect. No food or drink is to go in the Sanctuaries without permission. We must refrain from recreating in the sanctuary or in any way appearing irreverent. If your group happens to sleep in a church, check with the Pastor about where to keep your things during the day. Keep in mind that some Christians may be offended if you use an altar as a shelf or bench.
It is critical that we discipline ourselves to be Christ-like in our actions and ministry. We don’t always think of it, but some of our American ways are offensive to some of the Mexican Christians. Be careful not to be loud and boisterous when inappropriate – especially in the homes and churches. Maintain a humble spirit. You are a guest and if you appear arrogant or act like you can to anywhere and do anything you want, people can be offended and ministry can be damaged.
Be a servant – Remember that we are there to help build ministries and churches, not to take over. We will serve the Friends Pastors, the church people, the community people and their needs as high priority over our own needs. Always think of the people – you are to show love as we are instructed to do:
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he would do it as one speaking the words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 4:8-11)
Being a servant to the church and its people is top priority! Even when we do community ministry, do not carelessly apply whatever philosophy of ministry we might use for community ministry in the U.S. if we sense or know that it might be offensive to the Mexican Christians. We are not there to teach the Mexican Christians how to do ministry, we are there to support them (to be a blessing, to help create a big event and work on facilities) in the ministry they are already doing within their own cultural context. Keep in mind, too, that good missions wisdom in ‘teaching’ any ministry methods must fit the culture and must be reproducible by the local church and Christians without our help or money. Don’t even think about criticizing the Mexican Church ways; in fact, we usually learn quite a bit that can be applied to our own churches!
Be Spiritual – Pray much and let God talk with you about His plan for your life. You’ll be amazed at how He will talk to you if you are listening for His voice. Take spiritual practices (prayer, Bible reading, journaling, serving, etc.) seriously and God can set the tone for your experience and God’s reflection through you.
Whether your attitude and motivation is struggling or thriving, you can turn to God continually and ask Him to make His goals and His accomplishments and His attitude and His spiritual fruit and gifts to become revealed through you.
Be Mission-Minded – This experience of serving others in missions is only practice for the way God has called us to view the world and local community around us all the time. Always be curious how God would lead you to reflect His image in every situation. Practice being mission-minded right now and during Spring Invasion and see how you might lift-up Jesus Christ every minute of every day for the rest of your life!
Be Positive – Don’t complain about anything! Make the best of every situation. The drive down and back can be fun or it can be miserable. Your attitude will affect the whole van. Put other’s needs above your own!
Be Supportive – Keep a good attitude, especially about other team members. Serve others above yourself. Be eager to obey leaders cheerfully.
Be Punctual – Be at your appointed places on time; don’t make the group wait. For instance, if your group has some shopping time, do not drag behind the group and shop past the appointed time.
Be Responsible – Keep up with your belongings at the place you are staying, at the work site, and especially when traveling. Be careful to leave your “bedroom” in your host home clean and neat every day. We had hosts offended in the past from boys who didn’t clean up after themselves and left the house a mess each day.
Be Wise – Keep Godly behavior, a careful tongue and safety in mind with every decision you make.
Be Lighthearted – Smile a lot! Have fun with your group and the nationals. Don’t take the work project so seriously that you lose sight of the aspect of witnessing or forget to respect each other.
Mingle – Be sure to make every effort to spend as much time as possible with the Mexican people while we are there. Avoid the temptation to “huddle up” with the Americans only.
Public Display of Affection – PDA is strictly forbidden on this trip. If you are dating another team member before this trip, you are not dating them during the trip. Invasion is not an acceptable time to look for a date.
Bedtime – All team members must go to bed on time and get proper sleep. Rest is key to good attitudes and good health. Staying up too late may inconvenience host families. If your host family is keeping you up late, just politely excuse yourself and get to bed. You will be allowed time for journaling, devotions, and prayer before bedtime. Use your time wisely. It would be a terrible, mistake to have lack of rest become a road block to effective ministry with all the preparation and church support that will be invested in this mission trip.
Dress Code – All team members must adhere to the dress code at all times while in Mexico unless given permission by Invasion leaders. This tends to be a sensitive subject for some, but it’s part of the life of a missionary. At times, Invasion leaders have thought it’d be okay to be less strict, and then we’ve found out from Mexican Pastors that someone was offended, so just legalistically follow the guidelines we’ve been given!
- No shorts or sleeveless shirts are to be worn at any time by either males or females. The only possible exception to shorts might be during athletic activities; but only if Pastors and Invasion leaders give you permission (and pants will be on over shorts to and from activity). Don’t plan to wear shorts.
- During work projects men and women may wear slacks or jeans with a T-shirt (not sleeveless or cutoff).
- During ministry times (church, children’s ministry, evangelistic services), ladies are to wear dresses or skirts below the knee and have their shoulders covered. Remember that children’s ministry can require some running around (games) and you’ll need to be comfortable for that. Sandals or tennis shoes are fine even with a dress/skirt. It is usually hot and dusty in this area of Mexico.
- Men are to wear button down, collared shirts during ministry times along with either slacks or jeans. Please do not wear any kind of t-shirts to church.
- Groups crossing the border on Sunday need to remember that you will need your church clothes on before you cross the border as you will be arriving for church that evening.
- Just because you see Mexicans behaving in a certain way or dressing different than we have instructed doesn’t necessarily mean that it is acceptable for you to behave or dress that way. There will be higher expectations of our dress and behavior, simply because we are a visiting group – and missionaries! Christians in Mexico have more conservative standards than the general public in Mexico. Our hope is not to offend the most conservative, even legalistic Mexican Christian. Wouldn’t it be a joke for us to make all the preparations for this mission trip and have someone not receive the message we desire to give because of what we are wearing!?
Of course, don’t even think of bringing weapons, alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, or fireworks.
Disobedience to adult leaders in any form is grounds for sending you home immediately at you and your parents’ expense.