Questions about Missions

I figured rather then write, I wanted to ask some questions. I’ve had a discussion recently concerning short term missions and I wanted to hear some of my readers opinions. I’m curious what everyones take is on the issue of short term missions, global missions, western missionaries, etc. So, here are my questions:1. What do you think about short term missions? Do they do more harm then good, or vice versa?

2. Have you heard of indigenous missionaries? If so, what do you think of them?

3. On a Biblical level, what do you think a typical (U.S.) Christian’s role is as it relates to the ‘Great Commission’?

4. Do you think ‘Western’ Missionaries bring more ‘colonizing’ then they do ‘evangilizing’?

I know these might be leading questions in some ways, but I wanted to give an indication of the angle I’m looking at them from. Feel free to disagree with any or all, or critique the premise. I’d just love to hear your thoughts.

Any questions for me?

4 thoughts on “Questions about Missions”

  1. Great questions Ariah. You’ll probably be getting some too-long answers from me, but this is something that I think about a bit. My first question as far as this discussion goes, is how are you defining missions here, are you talking about evangelistic missions or service missions. Since most of your questions are talking about evangelism, I’ll assume that’s what we’re talking about

    1. What do you think about short term missions? Do they do more harm then good, or vice versa?

    It really depends on whether the missions have done a good job of communicating God to the culture they are reaching out to. The major pitfall/barrier is to miscommunicate to the culture in such a way that the messages of love, repentance and redemption do not come across, but instead, messages of hate, disrespect, and other such anti-Christian principles come across.

    2. Have you heard of indigenous missionaries? If so, what do you think of them?

    Yeah, they’re called pastors.

    All facetiousness aside, this is basically what parachurch organizations do. They are missionaries to a local culture. As InterVarsity Volunteer/Staff, I am a missionary to college students. I have a friend who is pretty much a missionary to the inner city. It’s a great idea, because they understand the culture to which they are ministering, and this is always an asset. The only real disadvantage to being an indigenous missionary, is that in being a part of a culture, it is hard to see some ways that God is calling us to be counter-cultural, it’s often easier to see this from the outside in.

    3. On a Biblical level, what do you think a typical (U.S.) Christian’s role is as it relates to the ‘Great Commission’?

    On a biblical level, I think that the typical Christian’s role is to use the gifts/talents given to them in order to make the Great Commission happen. There is an almost unspoken misconception that the only people who have a part to play in making disciples are those who’s gifts lie in communication. The truth is, as God has blessed us with gifts of talent, possessions, and resources our responsibility is to use these gifts to further God’s Kingdom

    4. Do you think ‘Western’ Missionaries bring more ‘colonizing’ then they do ‘evangilizing’?

    I think it depends on what you mean by colonizing. However, I would venture to say that the colonizing powers have more effective means of colonizing, that they don’t need to do things in the name of (but without the approval of) God. I have more thoughts on this, but they aren’t organizing themselves, so I’ll stop.

  2. #1. I think short term missions can be a double edged sword. they can make people feel too content. they can make people feel like they have done their part for that week, so the rest of the year they can live selfishly. or, it makes them think they don’t need to change anything about their life b/c they already “gave” when they took that trip to the caribbean. on the other hand, i think short term mission trips do help the people that are receiving the services. i have helped rehab and build a few house over my lifetime. i’d like to think that the people who lived in them reaped the benefit. i also think the people going on these short term trips benefit from it. although i haven’t done one in years, i do think the ones i did changed me. they helped me see the world differently, they helped me be less selfish, to think of others. they challenged my beliefs and my faith. i think all of those are good things.

    #2 sorry, never heard of it.

    #3 tough question. i think it is different for different people. i think God uses us all uniquely.

    #4 i’m not sure what western missionaries are doing since i’ve never seen the fruits of their labor. i can’t really make a statement about something i have not witnessed.

    there is my two cents 🙂

  3. So I’ve only really experienced service missions. From when I was in optometry school to afterwards, I’ve either given eye exams and glasses or digged ditches for a new feeding center. One of the reasons I’ll continue going back year after year with my uncle is because they have an established mission. Meaning they go every year, they have good relations with the chief of the village, with churches there, etc. And the services we provide are definitely needed…they improve people’s lives in a concrete visible way.

    I do like this kind of short term missions so much more than the random “pick a place, show God’s grace” style that never sets up shop anywhere for more than a couple weeks. (I just made up that little jingle) I feel like, in order to be effective, though you may only be able to go for a week or so at a time, you have to have consistency and some form of permanency to make a change in peoples’ lives. David (my uncle, a cardiologist) has been going there and recruiting others to go there to the same area for over 20 years now…and the changes in their communities are clear.

    With that said, I do think sometimes we can do more harm than good. The thing that bothers me the most is that we leave our rich country to go help the poor, and we stay in the Hilton of their village. We talk about the problems of the hotel, the lack of hot water (usually) and the food and everything…but we usually don’t mention that the people we’re serving would be in paradise if they had the dough to stay there. That bothers me. I don’t know if it bothers anyone else, specifically the local people who see us come to serve them, but it bothers me. (My favorite experience by far last year was when I took a tap-tap truck with a friend and stayed with members of the church in their home.)

    Now, I realize that this doesn’t actually answer most of your questions. But it’s the same subject, and it’s actual experience I’ve had. So I offer it anyway. 😉

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