Every Purpose Bound experience combines elements of a spiritual retreat, a mission trip and a travel adventure. Learn more about these components as well as our study topics and missions partners below.
The essence of every Purpose Bound experience is that of a spiritual retreat designed to accelerate your growth as a Christian. With beautiful island or coastal settings as the backdrop for your spiritual journey, we combine many elements to create the ultimate retreat experience. Our ultimate goal is that your trip be a life-changing experience, and that you return home spiritually refreshed and with greater insight as to your life purpose, along with a renewed commitment to love and serve your fellow man.
Personal reflection is of course an important part of any spiritual retreat, and it’s hard to imagine a more conducive setting for this than at water’s edge. In this place of tranquil beauty where land, sky and ocean meet, God’s creation beckons one’s heart, soul and mind to connect with Him for rejuvenation, inspiration and transformation. Face it, with the routine of day-to-day living and all of its distractions, it can sometimes be very difficult to find time to focus on God for the extended periods of time needed for the deeper spiritual growth we so long for. A Purpose Bound experience provides both the time and the environment needed for introspection and growth that is missing in our daily lives.
Meaningful study and group discussion time is another important element of your spiritual retreat. Because purpose and role provide the framework for your life, we will spend daily time helping you discover or re-discover your life purpose–why God created you and what He wants you to be doing with your time while on this earth. Through personal guidance and self-assessment, you will find that God has gifted you with a unique “S.H.A.P.E.” for serving in a particular way that, in conjunction with other members of the body, collectively allows us to make a difference in the world (see I Cor 12). At the end of your journey, we believe you will have a renewed sense of significance and direction. You’ll also gain a better understanding of other important Biblical topics, with the opportunity to ask those questions you’ve always wanted to ask.
There are many other elements of your experience that are designed with your growth as a Christian in mind. Our comprehensive and balanced approach addresses the spiritual, the emotional, the physical, and the relational, as participants learn, serve, experience, connect and grow. You’ll have the opportunity to engage in hands-on missions work, as we venture into the the heart of poverty to serve real human needs and impact lives. You’ll establish relationships with local churches and community leaders for future visits, and have opportunities to directly engage with a diverse mix of local inhabitants. We spend significant time onshore, so that you can personally experience the colorful local culture, the interesting history and the diverse landscape of the areas we visit. Enjoy the wonder of creation through snorkeling or hiking. Feel the exhilaration of sailing and windsurfing. Be awestruck as you gaze at an endless canopy of stars at water’s edge. Your journey will leave you spiritually refreshed and with a sense of renewal, allowing you to re-enter your daily life with a new perspective and vigor for loving and serving.
In the end, it’s all about transformation, and a Purpose Bound experience provides the ideal getaway for that. If you are longing to grow deeper as a Christian, choose a journey now.
“So he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Let us go off by ourselves to some place where we will be alone and you can rest for a while.'” Mark 6:31b (GNB)
“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” Colossians 3:10 (NLT)
“Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” 1 Peter 4:10 (CEV)
Every Purpose Bound experience is also part mission trip. In fulfilling God’s purposes for your life, you know that we are all called to serve others and to share the good news of Jesus with non-believers. We are to do this on an everyday basis with everyone around us, while at the same time considering needs beyond our own neighborhoods. Because short term mission trips are an important way that we can accomplish this, Purpose Bound gives special attention to missions by providing a sampling of serving and sharing opportunities in the areas we visit. Our program will benefit both those experienced in missions, as well as those who’ve always wondered what they were all about.
If you’ve never been on a mission trip, the term may invoke a sense of mystery or of stereotype. And if you’ve ever considered one, you may have faced a confusing array of options and had many questions. Should I go on a mission trip? Where should I go? How long of a trip should I take? What type of trip should I pursue? Should I help build something, assist in relief efforts, or give love and attention to orphans? How do I pay for it? And why am I even paying to go serve? Are the results really worth the expense in light of the many needs in my own neighborhood and country?
For those new to missions, Purpose Bound will explain the nuts and bolts of mission trips. We will dispel any myths about mission trips by clarifying their purpose and confirming their biblical mandate. We will also help you determine the type of mission trip that is most consistent with your S.H.A.P.E. We do this both through formal assessment and by providing you a real life and hands on sampling of different types of mission trip service projects. Our week-long trips offer multiple mission trips rolled into one voyage, giving you a taste of the different options.
For those of you who already have short term mission trip experience, our program will provide you invaluable insight. We dig deep into the spiritual basis for mission trips, and take you behind the scenes so that you can see what makes for an effective trip. You will work directly with our missions partners, giving you experience in dealing with different cultures and personalities. We will also help you solidify exactly how and where you are called to use your time and resources. You’ll depart from your Purpose Bound experience fully prepared to actually organize and lead your own mission trips, or to use the transferable skills and experiences for serving and evangelizing in your own neighborhood.
Coastal California and the Caribbean provide the perfect setting for the missions part of our experiences. The beautiful shorelines experienced by tourists often mask the poverty lying just beyond the shore. California is home to just about every human issue that exists. Most of the Caribbean islands are underdevelopped third world countries suffering the many human needs associated with poverty. In either of these two areas, participants can experience all of the issues faced around the world: spiritual darkness, orphan issues, homelessness, food and clothing needs, educational deficiencies, medical issues, and the like. With each destination having its own unique heritage, a variety of cultures are experienced. We partner with local churches and other organizations so that we can immediately dig into the heart of the issues (learn about some of our missions partners below). Participants actually learn about missions at the same time that they actually serve and make a difference.
At some point in their faith journey, most Christians feel a tug in their heart to participate in a short term mission trip. After your Purpose Bound experience, when you feel that tug, you will know exactly what to do.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20a (NIV)
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Exploring the culture, history and natural beauty of the destinations we visit is an important part of every Purpose Bound experience. Every trip provides significant time off-boat, where walking tours, hikes, jeep excursions, and water sports will allow you to experience the area up close. Our onshore visits also give you the opportunity to directly interact with the local inhabitants. From modern coastal harbors, to tiny island fishing villages, to dropping anchor in a sandy cove, our landing points bring the area alive. This aspect of your trip is known as “experiential learning”, and in its own way is designed to help bring you closer to God.
A SPECIAL NOTE ON OUR CARIBBEAN JOURNEYS
Caribbean culture is a fusion reflecting the diverse peoples who have settled here. While onshore, you will experience local island culture through food, music, art and observation of lifestyle. Things like jerk chicken and fried plantains. Steel drum bands and boom boxes blaring reggae music. Open air markets with mangos fresh off the tree. Rastafarians “hanging out” on street corners. Caribbean culture is as colorful as you picture it.
The islands of the Caribbean are rich with history, and there are many visible remnants of the past. Originally inhabited by native indian tribes, the islands were discovered and settled by various European countries who sought the sugar, spices and other valuable commodities present there. They imported slaves from Africa to work the plantations, built forts to protect their holdings and commissioned fleets to guard the trade routes from pirate attacks. From old forts with cannons overlooking the harbors, to plantation ruins and slave quarters, to petroglyphs, the Caribbean offers interesting lessons about the past through the historical sites we visit.
From the earliest explorers to today’s visitors, people are awestruck by the natural beauty of the islands of the Caribbean. Pristine white sand beaches, and jagged rocky coastlines. Towering mountains, and rolling hills. Groves of palm trees, and vast fields of sugar cane. On our longer voyages, you will visit active volcanoes and hike through beautiful rain forests, alive with flora. From the summits of island mountains to the crystal clear waters surrounding the thousands of islands that make up this land, the Caribbean definitely offers an awesome example of God’s wondrous creation.
And those crystal clear waters offer Purpose Bound participants some unique ways to enjoy that creation. Snorkeling allows you to view an amazing underwater world of beautiful coral, colorful fish and peculiar creatures. Use a kayak or SUP (stand-up paddle board) to explore up close a small cove or a coral reef. Experience the ocean breezes as you feel the exhilaration of windsurfing.
You’ll also learn to sail in waters known throughout the world for offering some of the best sailing imaginable. From drifting peacefully in a secluded island cove to exhilarating runs through the waves of the open sea, sailing has captivated the hearts of man since before the time of Jesus. You will experience all of this as part of a sailing adventure that most people only dream about. Each day, every participant will be assigned some distinct and rotating role as an active crew member on a working sailing vessel. These range from serving as the Captain’s first mate, to being the vessel’s chef, to cleaning and maintenance duties. The Captain will provide hands-on training in basic sailing concepts and techniques, knots and lines, navigation, boating safety and emergency procedures. By the time your journey comes to a close, you will be educated in sailing skills that you can use the rest of your life.
A Purpose Bound voyage will be an active adventure you will never forget.
“By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.” Romans 1:20a (The Message)
Study & Discussion Topics
Every Purpose Bound experience is carefully planned with a balance of elements designed to help you grow as a Christian. An important element is our Bible-based study time, lessons and group discussions. We utilize time-tested study materials and concepts delivered by experienced trip leaders who support each lesson by facilitating meaningful discussion among participants. Depending on the length and focus of your particular Purpose Bound experience, the following is a sampling of the types of topics we cover.
Realizing Your Life Purpose
& Discovering Your S.H.A.P.E. For Serving
On every Purpose Bound trip, we spend daily time helping you discover your life purposes: why God created you and what He wants you to be doing with your time while on this earth. We’ll explore your five life purposes – Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Ministry and Evangelism – and help you apply them in your day-to-day life. You will also find that God has gifted you with a unique “S.H.A.P.E.” for serving in a particular way. Through self-assessment testing and group study, you will gain an understanding of your Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. This in turn will help you determine exactly where you can best serve within the body of Christ. For this particular study area, we utilize “Purpose Driven Life” materials written by Pastor Rick Warren, one of America’s most influential Christian leaders, as well as related materials from his Southern California Saddleback Church.
Mission Trip Theory & Practice
Every Purpose Bound experience includes an element of missions or service work, so we make sure that participants are provided a basic background in mission trip theory and practice. Our longer trips go into even greater detail on topics like these:
- Missions 101: An Overview of Mission Trip Theory & Practice
- Why Should I Go: The Great Commission and Other Biblical Mandates for Missions
- Missions: Where Should I Go and What Should I Do?
- Understanding the Basics of World Religions
- The Secular Context of Missions
- The Crises: Orphans – HIV/Aids – Clean Water – Illiteracy – Hunger – Poverty
- Cultural Awareness: Personal Safety and Security in Foreign Countries
- Intercultural Communication Skills
- Mission Trip Finances: Budgeting & Fundraising
- Types of Trips: Service, Evangelical, or Combination?
- The Basics of International Travel: Entering and Leaving Foreign Countries
- International Travel Resources: Getting to Know the U.S. Dept. of State
- Communicating Christ Cross-Culturally
- Partnering with the Local Church: Sustainable Missions Models
- Local Area Christianity: “We’re All Christians, But They Practice It SO Differently”
- Short-Term Missions A to Z: Planning, Preparation and Execution
- Exploring Roles and Impact of Mission Teams
- Basic Life Skills (cooking, personal budget, car maintenance)
- CPR & Basic First Aid
Miscellaneous Studies & Spotlight Sessions
Longer Purpose Bound trips always include a mix of discussion-based mini-courses on various topics of interest to a growing Christian. Some of these will be DVD studies, so that you can become more familiar with various well-known Christian leaders who will model and teach the various topics and concepts.
- Christian Love: It All Begins Here
- “Lukewarm” Christianity
- Establishing Life Guardrails
- Developing Spiritual Disciplines
- Worship: It’s More Than Music
- Introduction to Servant Leadership
- True Discipleship
- Evangelism Tips & Techniques
- The “Mystery” of Prayer
- Understanding You: Personality Tests and Assessments
- Leading a Small Group Bible Study
- Handling Personal Temptation
- Physical Health Matters: The “Daniel Plan” Model
- Financial & Vocational Health (Dave Ramsey)
- Pleasure, Entertainment & Relaxation as a Christian
- Spiritual Health Assessment
Future Multi-Week Leadership Development and Other Focused Training Sessions
The goal of Purpose Bound advanced experiences is to transform participants into solid Christian leaders who return home from their trip fully equipped and inspired to help lead others to impact the world for Christ. Our unique and multi-faceted leadership development program is based on the following working definition of “leadership”: a process of social influence in which one person enlists the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.
A portion of our leadership development program involves coursework with light reading followed by interactive training and discussion sessions. However, leadership development permeates every aspect of our advanced trips, and there are many opportunities for hands-on practice. You will spend significant time onshore, where you will work with local church leaders and take part in actual service projects. Experiential learning occurs as you explore our destinations and participate in various team-building activities.
One of the most effective parts of our training is our servant leadership rotation concept. Here, your trip leader will support and guide you as you try your hand at shore excursion leader, prayer & worship leader, discussion leader/facilitator and various other servant leadership roles unique to your particular trip. By rotating various leadership roles, every participant has ample opportunity to practice their new skills in a variety of scenarios, thus gaining real life leadership experience.
Here is a sampling of the topics covered in our advanced leadership development program:
- Leadership 101: What is a Leader?
- Christian Leadership Styles and Traits
- Casting and Catching Vision
- Essential Leadership Tools and Techniques
- Leading When Everyone Is Too Busy to Follow
- Group Dynamics
- Perception Is Reality
- Interpersonal Communications
- Relationship Skills
- Communication Skills
- Relational and Emotional Health
- Influence of Culture and Others
- Strength Finder Assesment and Application
- Balancing Ministry and Personal Life
- Managing Stress & Avoiding Burnout
- Ethics and Boundaries
- World Missions: Leading Healthy Ministries
- The Business of Ministry I: Entities, Accounting, & Taxes
- The Business of Ministry II: Legal, Insurance, Employment Law, & Government Regulations
- The Business of Ministry III: Marketing, Management & Fundraising
Saddleback Church Homeless Outreach
Purpose Bound has established relationships with a variety of churches and other local organizations serving human needs on various islands in the Caribbean. The ones shown below are those that our current trips include for missions work or service projects.
I Can Children’s Home, St. Maarten
The I Can Children’s Home houses from 20-30 local orphans. The exterior grounds are in a very dilapidated state of repair, with a virtually unusable playground, basketball court and ball field. Our visits to the orphanage will include needed repairs, as well as time with the children.
Soup Kitchen, Homeless Shelter & Street Outreach, St. Thomas
Homelessness and poverty are significant issues in the Virgin Islands, and one organization stands in the forefront by operating two soup kitchens, a homeless shelter, a street outreach and other generous services on St. Thomas. They have recently secured a new building (pictured) that is being converted to a soup kitchen and services offices. We have established a non-denominational partnership with the Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, and will assist them where most needed.
Queen Louise Home for the Aged, St. Thomas
The Queen Louise Home for the Aged is a government facility for low-income elderly needing assisted living. Unlike the mainland U.S., government facilities in the islands welcome Christian programs. Our visits to the facility will include singing of traditional hymns and other worship songs, as well as some one-on-one time visiting with the residents.
Her Majesty’s Prison, Tortola
Her Majesty’s Prison serves as the final place of incarceration for all of the British Virgin Islands. It houses approximately 125 inmates, most of whom are male. The prision is presently in a state of transition from a penal mindset to one of rehabilitation. Our visits will include speaking to various sized groups about life purpose and other topics to help prepare them for life after prison.
Crystal Children’s Home, St. Maarten
The Crystal Children’s Home currently houses ten teen girls and operates from a temporary rented facility. We will meet the girls for church, and then provide them a barbecue lunch from our boat. After that, we will simply hang out with them in the Phillipsburg oceanfront and beach area.
Good Samaritan Foundation, St. Maarten
The Good Samaritan Foundation operates a small school that caters to poverty-stricken immigrant children who do not yet have the necessary papers to attend a public school. These children come to St. Maarten from places like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and South America. We will provide needed school supplies, classroom instruction and/or repairs to the one-room school, which is housed in a small local church. We will also attend the Sunday evening service of this Spanish-speaking church, where many of the schoolchildren’s families attend.
Nana Baby Children’s Home, St. Thomas
The Nana Baby Children’s Home is a small group foster care home, with several permanent residents and various temporary residents. On those trips that visit this home, we will assist them with various repairs and spend time with the children.
Rainbow Children’s Home, Tortola
The Rainbow Children’s Home is a small group foster care home, with one permanent resident, a severely handicapped young boy. The facility is also the temporary home to various children needing emergency housing. On those trips that visit this home, we will do things like host a barbecue for the children, play games or sports, or take the children and staff to a nearby bowling alley.
On a Purpose Bound trip, every day is a new and exciting adventure, and our experiential learning environment will provide memories that will last a lifetime. As you can see from our trip itineraries, every day is different, but here is a picture of what a day might look like on our core experiences:
6:00 am – Awaken to a beautiful sunrise over the ocean horizon and spend some quiet time with God sitting on the sand of a secluded tropical beach.
8:00 am – Join the rest of the crew onboard for a light breakfast and fellowship, and pitch in to ready the vessel to set sail for the day’s island destination.
9:00 am – Gather on deck with the rest of your fellow participants and trip leader for your morning study and discussion.
11:00 am – Enjoy an hour of free time by swimming, snorkeling, reading, just hanging with your shipmates or beaching it.
12:00 noon – Head ashore for some fish tacos or a juicy cheeseburger while overlooking a bustling harbor from the palm-canopied patio of a local hole-in-the-wall.
1:00 pm – Spend the afternoon with the children at a local orphanage, help make needed repairs at a local church, or take an invigorating hike through a tropical rain forest to explore the ruins of a historic fort overlooking the island.
5:00 pm – Hang out in the harbor getting to know some locals or visitors, or return to the boat for an hour of free time.
6:00 pm – Set sail for a sunset dinner cruise where your chef of the day will serve up some island specialties.
7:00 pm – Watch a video study on life purpose. Then take a written S.H.A.P.E. assessment, and discuss the results with your shipmates.
9:00 pm – Gather on the beach under the stars to re-cap the day’s experiences, talk about what’s in store for the next day, and have some worship and prayer time with your new friends.
10:00 pm – Settle in for some peaceful rest, readying yourself for the next day’s journey.