Missions Misunderstood » Blog Archive » It’s Your Fault

Posted February 9th, 2009 by E. Goodman

air-7503164Week-long tourist mission trips that have suburban American teenagers staying in five-star hotels and complaining about the food.

Missions done more for adventure than out of obedience.

The Sunday-school class that passes out American flags and money.

Culturally inappropriate choir tours, drama troupes, youth musicals, puppet shows, clowns, mimes in the park.

Attractional replications of “what works” back home.

One-off drive-by mission trips that assuage the guilt and give a feeling of superiority.

Missionary, these you might roll your eyes at the thought of including short-term groups in your strategic approach to ministry. Church people can be consumeristic, naive, fickle. Their well-intentioned attempts to help can build unhealthy dependency. Their ignorance can jeopardize the ministry you’ve worked hard to build. You may swear off hosting church groups. I know- you didn’t come here to be a baby-sitter and tour guide. But the popular missiology that perpetuates missions-as-event is a result of your interaction (or, lack thereof) with the local church.

It’s your fault.

Those of you who scoff at the involvement of a local church (the same churches that send and support you), it’s time for you to take responsibility. If churches have a bad understanding of what missions is and should be, it’s your fault. How else will they know the reality of what God is doing among people around the world? What church members know about missions is what you’ve taught them. Or what you’ve failed to teach them.

The church is God’s design. Leadership. Accountability. Gifting. Community. Fellowship. Worship. It’s His design for His people, and you don’t get to bypass that structure just because you’re embarrassed by a church group that shows up in your part of the world wearing matching T-shirts. The church cannot be replaced. You can be her servant, but not her substitute.

Romans 12:3 warns us not to think too highly of ourselves. You are expendable. Any Spirit-led “volunteer” missionary can replace your language ability and cultural insight with a google search and a few hours in a smoky bar with a national. You’re not special. And you won’t get far without the direct involvement of the churches that send you.

Tags: mimes, mission trips, Short-term

Filed under:Church, Missiology, Missions