#2 - We proselytize because it makes us feel good about ourselves

I'll probably take a bit of flak for this one, but that's ok.  The idea behind this experiment is to get people thinking and talking about issues we may disagree upon and possibly re-think our positions.  So, I'll just dive right in. 

I don't fully agree with short-term missions trips.  There, I said it.

When I say "fully", I mean that there are some aspects with which I agree.  I agree with helping people and doing work they may not be able to do themselves, or getting them supplies to which they may not normally have access.  We are in a wealthy nation and in a good position to help people in need.

But the bulk of my angst stems from wondering what the motive is behind short-term missions trips. 
"It's our desire to take the gospel into all the world, as commanded by the Scriptures", many would say.  But if that's the case, why aren't we making these trips life-missions?  Why go to Africa for only 10 days?  How much can we possibly accomplish in such a short time? 
"We're part of a larger organization where teams accomplish specific tasks before the next team comes in to complete their task."
Would humanity be better rewarded for long-term commitment instead of short-?  What kind of impact would it have on the missionaries and the locals to know Christians are committed to people for the long-haul instead of just the trip across town?

If we're serious about seeing people in Africa fed and clothed, then why not take a sabbatical from our careers for a year and really do business?  Obviously, I wouldn't expect many of us to do this.  It would be very difficult to pack up the family and go when there are obligations and bills to pay at home.  But if we're serious, then it seems we'll make it happen.  Why not go long enough to actually build relationships with people, rather than simply performing a drive-by?

It is my opinion that the primary reason Christians embark upon these short-term missions excursions is to learn something about ourselves, or to feel good about getting our hands dirty for Jesus.  But we can only commit to one week!  It is my secondary opinion that we do them because we want to see another part of the world, so we may as well do something "good" while we're at it.  The trip is the vehicle; the mission is the third-wheel.

The point is this: We don't need to fly to the opposite side of the globe in order to help hurting people or to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  We all know neighborhoods in our immediate communities that need help and who need Jesus.  There are several area agencies that can help point us in the right direction.  There are even agencies that already have the ball rolling and they're simply in need of our help.

It is very difficult for Christians to get dirty with people close to us at home. 
I'll state it another way. 
It's much too easy to do drive-by missions.  After all, we can leave in a week without further commitment.  Missions abroad requires little more than a plane ticket, while missions at home requires on-going commitment.

Is it time for us to stop being commitment-phobes?
Is it time we "put up, or shut up", so to speak?
Jesus didn't have it easy.  He busied Himself with the work of the Kingdom.
Are we too busy with Wii and sports on TV and 4-wheeling and studying and reading and........?
Are we too busy to commit to people, especially when we believe eternity is on the line?


  1. The ten days our church missionaries spend in Africa each year are very productive, and we support our Kenyan brother, Geoffrey, financially all through the year. He depends on us, and we are very happy to have this established relationship with him and the people in his area.

    In another area of Africa (I can't recall exactly where) Miss Marge left her home and job to run an orphanage. The area got so unsafe, it was decided that she should return to the states after about a year of her being there.

    Our Mexico team, who sometimes take less than 10-day trips, are also very productive. Rueben, who is Mexican, but a US citizen, and Mark and Robin, two other missionaries in our church, take the youth for 5 or 7, or even 10 days, they work hard...they help build, tear down, feed, clean, teach...whatever needs to be done for these very impoverished people.

    Our Russia team take Bibles to Russia two and three times each year.

    Each of these teams spend many, many hours outside of the 5-10 days preparing and raising/saving money in order to go. I can't speak for them, but from watching/knowing these people personally, I believe they (and I believe it is true of most missionaries, maybe not all) have hearts of gold.

    Alfred spent many years of his life taking Bibles to and from Russia...when he died last year, there were so many Russians who tearfully expressed their gratitude for all he'd done, and all the churches he'd helped establish...

    While rereading what I've written, I can't figure out if I sound like I'm bragging (maybe a little) or if I sound like I'm being a smart aleck (not intended.) You bring up valid points...but I think I'm going to respectfully disagree with most of what you've said, because I think if you look enough, you'll find good hearted missionaries, even if they are part time.

    1. Uhm...Alfred didn't take Bibles FROM Russia.

    2. TBR, first, I appreciate the thoughtful comment. I invite critique and disagreement. I could very well be wrong (I'm often wrong).

      No worries on bragging or being a smart alek. When I read that list I thought, "Wow, busy church. Good for them." I did not for one moment think you were sharing it pridefully.

      Please don't mistake me: I would never say people who go on these short-term trips do not have hearts of gold. I hope I didn't even suggest it in the post. I have friends who do them, and I know they are genuine. I just wonder if deep down inside there's a truer reason for going. In fact, more than one person said these trips are more for "us" than they are for "them".

      I just think there's so much to be done here at home. And what you've mentioned proves my point. It's easy to send money all year long (which is a good thing, cuz our missionaries need our monetary support) and then go help them out for one week out of 52.

      But what are we as a church doing in Podunkville, USA? What are we doing with our literal neighbors to love them with the hands of Jesus? We can't simply throw money at THEM. We actually need to do something about it.

      And that, I believe, is much harder.

    3. It is harder...I mean, how many times have I sat right across from someone and never opened my mouth at all to them...about anything...much less the good news of Christ! And I agree whole-heartedly, we need to never forget those around us. All of this is very thought provoking.

  2. I can be on all sides of this one. I like seeing my assets blended and shared world wide but I ache for the local needy and lost. I also know what a change in heart a short term mission can do for an individual. Bringing them to a more open and full understanding of what our commission is. It takes all types of service. A certain type or commitment to one is to overlook others.

    1. I understand your view completely. I struggle with this one a bit.