Monday, July 16, 2007

Why going on a 2 week mission trip just ain’t good

Found this interesting post a blog that I just discovered:

A lot of Middle Class Churches like to send people on short term missions. While these often has the best of intentions, I am of the belief that the vast majority of these do far more harm than good. Harm? I hear you say

Yes .

Local Christians in the ‘mission country’
• We effectively say – ‘I have a much better knowledge of your culture/language and conditions and thought that by coming in for 2 weeks and often by spending just 1 day in one particular space I could further Kingdom Work’
• Those that we go to help often go out of their way to accommodate us, therefore putting themselves out and often leaving themselves in a worse financial position when we leave.

Local non Christians: Missioners have not enough time to bond or form lasting relationships often language and culture issues. The most unreached are often not talked to ‘as this would be too risky ‘ oxymoronic being the fact that this is who Jesus would I think go to first ……. *cough*

Those on the mission:
• My biggest gripe is the money. Individuals often spend (here in New Zealand and I assume for my US readers it is similar) $ 2000 – 4000 for a 2 week trip. While this is all well and good, most of those $$$$ are for the individuals costs (airfare , accommodation) and little gets to the actual MINISTRIES etc over there that they are going to support. What I am saying is after the mission group is gone is there another $2000 from each individual (and the church that is sending them) to help the ministries they have supported? Or is all that we bring home pretty photos and good memories?
• Second big gripe: Many many churches seem to push the idea that ‘mission’ is purely overseas – last time I checked Jesus started with those around him before he sent people out. If those who we send internationally do not have a grasp on this basic fact then I really doubt whether a ‘mission trip’ is ‘furthering the kingdom’ as it is claimed

Now in saying all of this there are some short term mission groups that I do make exceptions for i.e. where people are going to a place where they have been asked to go by a local community because a local community does not have those resources OR where the community has NO Christians.


BJ said...

I agree with these push backs on sgort term missions.

On the flipside:

1. If a short term missions programme is well managed it can be a stepping stone to longer term missions service

2. If the type of mission work done is well thought through it can be of help to those on the ground. Churches that are just starting off can often benefit from some labour on the ground (even in the short term)

3. A proper assessment of the needs v the skills provided can make a real difference if the assistance is targeted to strategic areas.

I make these observations not to counter the real issues raised but just to note some upside that I have observed as a recipient of (first world) missions trips. But the push backs have all been an issue for me as well.

Lisa said...

I very much agree BJ , that is what my original argument was as you will see in my last paragraph.

Thanks for the comments