Friday, January 16, 2009

Making the Most of Short Term Mission Trips

Short term mission trips have become a means of creating mission awareness, building a mission donor base, strengthening outreach commitments of congregations and inspiring personal witness and spiritual growth. They have particular appeal for younger generations that prefer hands on participation, but are popular among Christians of all ages.

These mission trips have also come under criticism in some circles as being “feel good vacations” or one-sided expressions of Western “superiority” – “We have come to help you!”

A new resource from Christianity Today called “Round Trip” may be helpful in working with short term mission groups as they prepare for their experience. It is a 14 week time of preparation focused around five study periods plus practical planning sessions. The approach may be summarized in this quote from the leader’s guide:

"In fact, while the term “missions” can be valuable, it is potentially misleading. If we think that “missions” means that we possess something—whether superior knowledge of the gospel, finances, or skills—that those we are visiting do not have, we are likely to do more harm than good. Most short-term mission trips go to places where the church is already thriving, with a powerful gospel witness and many local skills and resources. Even where the church may not yet exist, God has gone ahead of us to prepare the way in every culture. The term “missions” can be helpful if it reminds us that we are going to join God’s mission, and God’s people already on a mission, in the place we will visit for a short time. It’s important that we prepare our group’s hearts and minds to recognize signs that God is already at work where we are going."

Watch the video clip below and then, if interested, check for additional resources by clicking HERE.

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