I’ve been thinking, as I usually do and I’ve come to a conclusion.
short term mission = Christian vacation
The argument that I’m about to make comes from the desire for resources to be used more responsibly. Not that I’m saying that good doesn’t come from people going to foreign places, please don’t think that I don’t think that good is accomplished by these missions.
Let me start with stating where this whole argument starts.
Basically I’ve become more aware of how sin works in our lives. Sin is good at taking things that are good and slightly altering them to serve alternative purposes. Not that these things aren’t still good, but when they become altered they then lose the ability to fully be used for their greatest good.
A really bad example.
Take icecream. By its self = good. Then take something like bar-b-q sauce and put some on top. It messes it up. Yes it is still good underneath, but not quite as good if you hadn’t slightly altered it at all.
Sin works really well because we soon to live with the fact that our icecream is slightly messed up but we learn to live with it. Sin uses the fact that we don’t get upset that what we are doing is no longer pure. We lose the desire to go back to what we know as truly good.
I am very tired of putting up with lesser good. I am tired of letting sin convince me that 2nd best is ok.
Back to missions.
I have developed a problem with short term (1 week to a month) missions, over the last few months.
Over and over I hear of churches planning “mission trips” to far off places, like Africa, South America, Asia and other 3rd world nations, in the name of “doing good”. These trips often focus on providing a service, ie building something, doing “service” or evangelism, etc., for part of the week then taking 2-3 days to “sight-see”. Very few of the trips focus entirely on service. Yet even when service is involved, it is mostly for the participants instead of the focus being on others. A prime example of the ego-centric trips would be the “mexico house building” trips. But that’s a whole separate post.
The other part of these trips that bother me is the cost. 3000-7000 depending on where and how long you go. THREE THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!!!!! x 5-10 participants = either 15,000 or 30,000 dollars. Imagine how far that money would go if it was merely sent to the place where people were going and the local people, who know how to build things and how to run programs, used that money themselves!!!!!! Not only would there be less arrogant Americans there thinking that they are doing tremendous amounts of good, but those people in the places would be able to spread the money so much further because many of these nations do not have to pay what it costs for us to do the work here. Example: Bricks, mortar and wood for a church – American (made up figure) $20,000 the same materials in a 3rd world nation (once again made up) $1,000. I think it is clear how much further that money would go in a 3rd world nation, instead of using most of our “mission” money for travel to and then “sight-seeing”.
The time has come for churches to stop the spread of “Christian Vacation” trips with the added bonus of “doing good for God”.
What these missions boil down to is a Christian Vacation. We have let good become slightly perverted and then we try and justify ourselves by saying that we are doing good.
This happens over and over in our Christian lives. Think about new doors on a church or a renovation of a garden area. How much of our church budgets or special donations go towards improvements instead of ministry?
Your new _______ at your church costing _______. Think about if that money could have been poured into youth ministry or children’s ministry. How many more lives could have been touched than building ________?
What would be even better is people recognizing that there are plenty of needs in our own community. Pour your 3000 dollars into a local mission or food bank. Spend a week in a shelter with people with no homes and little or no money. Think of someone other than yourself. I mean that last sentence in the terms of the fact that Satan convinces us that by us going somewhere we are doing something good, that we are thinking of the “other”, but in all actuality we are thinking most of all about “me”.
Take a stand and make your voice heard. I want churches to “do ministry”. Put your resources where they are needed most. Pay youth workers. Invest money in things that we have not let sin take a hold of. Do not let yourself be fooled into thinking that because good can come of something, that it is the best good that can come.
Sin is very, very good at turning truth into false good. Do not be duped by the falsehood into thinking that just because there is good in what we do that we are doing the best good. Seek what is true and pure.
Combat the lies that Satan tells us that we are doing good. Go on vacation, but if you serve, serve with love and in truth. Allow God to motivate you to his work.