Short-Term Missions or Life?

I just tweeted this, so it’s an unusual double post. But this article in “Christianity Today” is one of the most thoughtful articles I have ever read about short term mission. I have organized and lead my share of short term missions and this article puts forth a philosophy that I completely agree with. Indeed, at CEO, when we engage in short term missions this was the philosophy that guided me. But this writer articulates that philosophy better than I ever did. However I do not think that this article is just for short term mission. I think this article is about life. Give it a read and tell me if you agree. Here is the link again.

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One response to “Short-Term Missions or Life?

  1. Last week I had an interesting discussion with friends abut short term mission trips. One of their churches is going to South America over the summer and I asked if she was going with them. She hesitantly shared her concerns about it, how her church was already struggling and making cuts, and it was hard enough for her to tithe each month; how could she (or others) spend 1900 on a trip like that? She also added that there were so many needs right here in our own area… why go elsewhere?

    I’ve been on a few short term trips, but that was back in the late 80’s/early 90’s to Mexico and Ukraine and other areas in Europe. Our focus was all about performing a musical we learned in the russian language and evangelizing afterwards. We entered so excited, but midtrip we were fairly deflated. Plans change rapidly. Our performance dates and times fell through. There was a sense of ‘we came all this way and we failed” because our mindset was on performing our musical so we could evangelize. It wasn’t until later that I came to see value in the experience and in the interactions and relationships built with the people, and the encouragement our group gave to local churches and missionaries. I think that if we saw every aspect of our travel as ‘mission’ we’d have emerged with a better appreciation of the trip.

    It is easy to feel that such trips are wasteful if it impacted the person going ‘to serve’ more than their service impacted the community they were sent to. And there are so many books and thought out there that it IS selfish, because its a lot of money to travel there…. wouldn’t the money be best sent to existing missionaries or organizations? Is it best to build houses for someone or employ local builders to do it instead?

    As I sat with my friends, we had a nice, civil discussion about the matter, but it is not an easy issue to talk about. The person who had been on dozens of missions trips felt like her experience and contributions were being attacked as ‘wasteful’ and selfish. The other person was just trying to be practical, yet honest about the struggle she has supporting short term trips. As for me? I see both sides. I am grateful for my missions trips out of country and the experience I gleaned from it. But I do wish that, back then, we reframed our goal to allow for personal transformation to be something that had value and was celebrated, not just the number of people attending our event or how many people made decisions for Christ.

    Sorry so long.

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