Throughout my years of participation in churches and ministries I have both been part of organizing groups to go and part of organizing our local work to receive groups. I’m not against the use of short-term mission experiences. In fact my own call into ministry is rooted in a mission experience in New Orleans with the community built up around the Rachel Sims Mission Centre. What’s important is how we frame the trip. What’s important is where we place it in the discipleship journey of the participants. I believe the difference in mindset between “saviour” and “learner” is so important for teams and their leaders. The difference in mindset between doing something for or doing something with the community you are entering will shape how you plan. Whether you are planning a trip to Vancouver, Appalachia, or Haiti, Bob Lupton’s wisdom will be helpful.
Exposing young people (and adults) to the needs of the world and the amazing work of God in harsh environments is important ministry. It opens their eyes, stirs their hearts and draws them into compassionate action. That’s why mission trips can be important in the spiritual development of our youth. And that’s what mission trips should be about—spiritual development, not pretending that they are about saving the world. Not immediately anyway. They are about saving us. Preparing us. Once that is clear, we can venture into Haiti and other places of need with integrity.