Sunday, November 7, 2010

Surprise! Your Teen Mania Mission Trip Will Cost Hundreds of Dollars More Than Advertised!

Teen Mania Ministries recently revamped their Global Expedition website, adding snazzy marketing materials downloads for teenagers, including this Missionary Step-by-Step Guide. In this guide, you'll find a chart on page 3 (see above) listing all the expenses that aren't covered in the advertised price of your Global Expedition.

Teen Mania recruits teens for their mission trips at Acquire the Fire events all over the country, so most teens who aren't from Texas will need to shell out at least a couple hundred dollars for a flight to the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Of course, Teen Mania won't be picking you up from the airport for free,'ll need to pay them another $49 for that privilege. Oh, and if your mission trip involves you taking an international flight, Teen Mania might add "up to $350" to the cost of your trip--but you won't find out exactly how much until you've already given them half of the money due. If that extra $350 makes the total cost of your trip unaffordable, well, it sucks to be you....because the money you've already paid to Teen Mania is not refundable under any circumstances.

If you are kind enough to volunteer as an unpaid leader on a Global Expedition (without which the trips would not be possible), not only do you need to pay for your trip, you'll need to shell out $25 for a background check ($75 if you're late!) and an extra $89 for a leadership training session. Doesn't sound like many other "volunteer positions" I know of....

As I explored in the last post, Teen Mania missions trips are already grossly overpriced & represent a lot of "profit" for the ministry. Most other organizations offer mission trips for much less money. But as you can see from the fee chart above, most teens end up paying hundreds of dollars more for their trip than the prices Teen Mania prints in all of their slick-looking missions brochures.

The fact of the matter is, this "nickel-and-diming" is not a common practice for most organizations that take people on mission trips--especially local churches. When you go on a trip with a church in your town, there's no domestic airfare to pay for, no airport shuttle to deal with, and the advertised cost of the trip is almost always "all-inclusive." They won't be charging for leadership training, and you'll know about any "fuel surcharges" when you sign up for the trip.

One last thought: if Teen Mania Ministries actually included all of the fees associated with their mission trips in the base price they advertised, they know interest in their trips would drop dramatically, and they wouldn't be able to recruit as many teens. Maybe that's why the extra fees are buried in the back of a brochure most teens & parents won't see until after they've already paid to apply to go on a Global Expedition??