The Goal of Your Next Mission Trip
There are a variety of reasons why people go on short term missions trips. Some of them might be:
1. A work project (painting, building, digging)
2. A ministry opportunity (preaching, teaching, evangelism)
3. An exposure to the needs and opportunities
4. Internships and apprenticeships
5. Personal discipleship… using the experience to provide spiritual growth opportunities
While all of these have positive and negative aspects to them, there is an additional reason to visit a field that is not normally stated as the primary goal and that is: learning from Christians around the world. Their faith and commitment is often at a much higher level than ours in North America. They are making sacrifices and suffer at a degree we never face. So if you are going on a short-term trip, could I suggest going with a humble spirit as a person needing to learn from those you visit. Go with the assumption that they may have a more robust Christianity than you and that their church may be a closer resemblance to the New Testament than yours. Observe their lack of materialism and joy in spite of poverty. Learn from their example.
The idea of American exceptionalism has infiltrated the world of missions. Sometimes that assumption is subtle and often it is overt that the American church has its act together and should export its expertise. We spend $2 billion a year taking short term trips that are designed to go help “those poor people over there.” The reality is that those believers may be way ahead of us in their walk with God. Their lack of air-conditioned buildings and padded pews is not an indication of spiritual poverty. The reality is that we possibly need them more than they need us.
Picture courtesy of www.heiseadvisorygroup.com/goals-based-investing/