#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?