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August 31, 2009

Short Term Missions…A Blessing to Them or Us?

Filed under: Missions — TimMc @ 3:26 pm

Earlier this summer, an article appeared in Christianity Today (June 2009 issue) that mentioned several things that mirror what our founder, Rhonda Sand, believes about short term missions too.

“Churches are learning that short-term missions are a mixed blessing. Do them, but say the reason we’re doing them is that they help us more than they help the host congregation.”

“Another thing to remember is the cultural and power differences, power in the sense of both political weight and economic influence. If an African church welcomes visitors from the United States and says, “We are so glad to have you here,“ yes, they’re sincere, but they also know that they’re welcoming people from America, who add some prestige and some finances. That may become a paternalistic relationship that goes sour for both sides, or it may turn out to be mutually edifying. It simply has to be done with eyes open and some understanding of the cultural, economic, and political differences.”

These two quotes come from the article, “Global is the New Local”, an article which appeared in the June 2009 issue of Christianity Today. You may read the entire article online at Christianity Today’s website.

While at first, these two quotes might be taken as offensive, perhaps it’s best to read them and then re-read them a second time. Please understand that they are not meant to be offensive in any way. They are merely suggesting that when you, as a church/organization enter into a short term mission trip of any sort, you should understand the implications that your trip may have for both your church/organization and the group of people you are going to engage.

As Christians, we are to go forth into all the world (Matthew 28), no doubt. We just need to understand that while we have a certain set of intentions…God may have a different agenda altogether – for us and possibly for those who we are ministering to as well. We need to be aware of that and flexible enough to move and adjust.

It’s good food for thought and hopefully will be a point of discussion for anyone who is planning to embark upon a short term mission trip.

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