The blogger formerly known as Lingamish has just written an excellent post about short term mission trips over at Think Christian. Here are a few quotes:
It’s encouraging to see the number of churches in my home country that are getting directly involved in projects overseas. For them, it’s not enough to fund a missionary and send them to do the dirty work. Churches now want to visit the missions they support and get their hands dirty and see first hand what’s happening on the mission field. This is a great step. It has some weaknesses however. First, short-term missions can be a mixed bag. You might go to Cambodia and have a fantastic time, get involved in an orphanage, make some friends and take lots of pictures. But the net result of your visit can be negative. Short-term missions often seek short-term results. And they aren’t financially efficient. Expending thousands of dollars to send people with no cross-cultural training or language skills to a foreign country and then expecting them to do something positive is naive and wasteful.
…The second weakness I see in churches adopting overseas projects is the lack of reciprocity. In every case I’ve ever seen, Western visitors come with the perspective that they have something to give and that the locals should be grateful recipients of their largesse. But the longer I live in Africa, the more I’m convinced that we are the ones who should come begging. Africans have much to teach us about life based on spirituality rather than materialism and the richness of a society centered on relationships rather than the individual. Finally, Christians I meet in Africa are much clearer-headed about the nature of the Gospel and they lack the cynicism and confusion that paralyze many Western believers.
The comments section is excellent too, I particularly liked this short sharp comment.
The Church in the Developing South knows its wealth. We in the West have yet to understand our poverty.
Read the full post.