This is part 3 of a 3 part interview with Jim Ramsay who works with The Mission Society. Jim published and article in the society’s magazine, Unfinished which deals with some of the concerns that should be taken into account when planning a short term mission activity. You may read part 1 of the interview here, and part 2 here.
Naturally, when the teams arrive they need to work with the program so to speak, but what are the questions we as pastors can ask our candidates to help ensure proper motive and expectation?
I need to say here, and probably should have stated above, that I make no claim to be a specialist on short term missions. let me suggest a couple things. One is that candidates should be expected to go through a lengthy time of preparation – culturally and spiritually. That will help with the motivation, since if travel and a quick mission-fix is the motivation, they usually won’t undergo even a minimal 6 weekly sessions of preparation. Second, determine if candidates are involved in outreach and discipleship here and now. Perhaps a short term trip will be a catalyst for that, but there should be a clear expectation that ministry is a way of life year round (as I wrote in response to the last question).
Nearly all of us have heard at local missions events the invitation to come to the mission field; usually it’s paired with a request for money as an alternative, do you think this has helped or hindered the expectation for short term missions?
That’s a very interesting point – I’ll have to think on that. There certainly is a risk of implying that money is the main solution to the need out there. That is bad news in both long and short term mission! I think the key is that people need to be invited to engagement in the mission of God at all levels. This may include a short term mission trip overseas. It may include supporting a long-term missionary. It may include helping a national leader receive training. It may include teaching ESL migrant workers or refugees. It may include inviting international university students into our homes. I think when it is separated as either/or and even as competing tasks, we really miss the point. I constantly have to fight off the risk to be negative about short term mission simply because I see all the money spent and wonder if there might have been a better use. The money question cannot be primary – but what needs to be primary is seeing it all as a whole.
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