For the past 20 years or so, every summer I’ve been involved in some type of short-term missions project.  I volunteer as a coordinator for a denominational-based student missions program, though I think I get as much, or more, out of the experience as the students who participate do.  It’s a basic type of ministry, where students are involved in some kind of construction which provides them with a platform to share the gospel to a homeowner who needs a hand up, and their neighbors who want to know why a bunch of students are working in the middle of the summer on a neighbor’s house.  This past summer, for the first time, I helped with a project that brought students in to help local church planters.  The students did everything from handing out flyers, to surveys, to conducting basketball camps, VBS in the park, and block parties.

There’s definitely a lot of value in involving students in these kinds of mission opportunities.  They give the students real missions experience, hands-on training, and they are carrying the gospel to their own Jerusalem and Judea.  It’s an effective and efficient use of resources.  And the ministry gets results.  It is helpful to the churches who are working that particular field.  And I think the involvement of people in domestic missions projects indicates a recognition of the need to carry the gospel next door and down the street.  We can’t assume that because we live in America, everyone is exposed to the gospel.  With better than half of those who claim some kind of church affiliation not bothering to be involved in their church, I don’t think we are as saturated with the gospel as we think we are.

As far as taking groups on short term international mission trips, I have a different perspective.  In order for such a venture to be “successful” in achieving its goal, it needs to be carefully planned, and those on the field where the trip will take place need to be the initiators of the effort, and issue an invitation.  The purpose, especially if it is a student trip, must go well beyond “exposing” students to missions.  I’ve seen too many churches take everyone who signed up and paid the fee (especially if the group leader gets a free trip if there are X number of participants) rather than evaluating the participation based on the spiritual maturity and qualifications of each person who participates.  Most missionaries have a calling, and several years of intense, concentrated preparation for their mission work.  I have a hard time believing that a group of high school kids can be called, trained and sent as qualified missionaries, even short term, in just a few weeks.  And many churches don’t really bother too much with the training.

A blog by Joel Rainey, who is the Director of Missions for the Mid-Maryland Baptist Association, on SBC Voices, caught my attention:

http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/

10 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):

1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ.

I think that list should be mandatory reading for any church leader who wants to take a group on an international mission trip.  Who is it really about?  I hear a lot of bragging about who has been where, and about the “great” results that occurred because a church or a country overseas was blessed by the presence of a couple of dozen short term mission participants.  This is the first time I’ve heard reactions from international pastors and church leaders about how they feel when they see a group of Americans coming with matching T-Shirts, looking for photo ops.

A group of students from the Christian school where I am administrator accompany a medical-dental team that goes to the Dominican Republic each spring to minister to residents of a Haitian refugee community that can’t get medical or dental services because they are in the Dominican Republic illegally.  There’s no pretension of any kind of special spiritual endowment that will come with the group.  They are providing a service that people can only access when they are there once or twice a year.  Some of the students work with a couple of the area churches to provide VBS for the children in the community during the time they are there.  But when it comes to worship, or the ministry of the gospel, it is the Americans who are taught the lesson.  Many of the students will tell you their experience in worship in those churches in the Dominican is the first time they’ve ever really seen the dynamic, active presence of the Holy Spirit in a worship service, and they are the ones who receive the benefit of the ministry of the gospel from preachers who are filled with the spirit, and are preaching because they are called, not because they are paid.  The ministry is mutually beneficial, because the community receives the benefit of the medical and dental service that is provided.  But when it comes to worship, and evangelism, the Americans are the ones who observe what happens in a church when there is complete and total dependence on God.

It might be wise to consider the benefit of taking money that would be spent on a mission trip to an exotic or tourist destination and instead bring some Christians from outside the country to help us revitalize one of our congregations, and introduce Americans to ministry that relies on the Holy Spirit rather than on the money that it takes to create a “look and feel” in a capacious edifice with a state of the art sound and video system.

:-)

 

 

10 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

10 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

10 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

10 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

0 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

0 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

0 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

0 Things I Hate About American Mission Projects. (From 250 National Pastors):1. You act as if the American church is the true trendsetter for how we should all do church.

2. You’re so concerned over the evil spirits ruling our land when so much evil breeds in your own backyard.

3. You live so far above the average standard of living and you behave as if you’re still in North America.

4. You conclude that you’re communicating effectively because we’re paying attention when we’re actually just intrigued by watching your foreign behavior.

5. You underestimate the effectiveness of our local church leaders.

6. You talk to us about your churches back home in such demeaning ways.

7. You too quickly get into the action without thinking through the implications on our churches long after you go home.

8. You’re obsessed with picture-taking and videos during our evangelistic programs. It’s really quite embarrassing for us.

9. You call us ‘backward’ for having little regard for your music, no palates for your green salads, no IQs for your advanced technology, and the list goes on.

10. We are not naive and backward. Instead, we are your brothers and sisters in Christ. – See more at: http://sbcvoices.com/missions-reflections-why-we-go-by-joel-rainey/#sthash.Fij1R1jW.dpuf

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

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