July 13, 2009
Short Term Missions Trips
I have always been fascinated by the statistical data that comes out of the Christian research firm, The Barna Group. A recent article by Barna’s current President, David Kinnaman (“Rev” magazine, July/Aug. issue) caught my eye. In a nationwide survey regarding short term missions, they found that only 1 out of 10 churchgoers have ever been on a service trip (only eight million out of 228 million adult Americans). You might think that as affluent as our country is relevant to the rest of the world, we would be stepping up to serve in large numbers, but that isn’t the case.
The rest of the demographics were interesting too. It seems that young adults (under 25) are the most likely to go and serve. The South and West are best represented in the “going crowd” and the politically conservative among us are more likely to serve as well.
And the benefits to the short term missionary seem to be many. Before, during and after such a trip, God seems to increase a participant’s compassion for others. The experience teaches them about the struggles of others less fortunate, deepens their faith and even encourages their ongoing financial generosity towards others. The bottom line response to such a trip might be described as “life-changing.”
With all those good benefits available for the participants, to say nothing of all the incredible good work that is done abroad, why aren’t we lining up to be involved in such an effort?
I might suggest that too often our churches and most of us sitting in the pews are focused on local needs and not globally aware of what God is doing around the world. In many cases, we are just ignorant of the big picture.
And there are the practical difficulties. The cost or fear of foreign travel is often prohibitive, especially for an entire family to participate. There may be health or safety issues to consider. There may be a language barrier and on it goes.
But there are solutions…Travel costs and other issues can be addressed with a state side trip (apparently one-third of the mission trips are currently located with the U.S.). Information on projects and needs around the world are readily available (My “Monday Musing” on 4/13/09 addressed some of those resources). And God can be trusted with health or safety issues.
So this week, how about praying about a short term mission trip for you and/or your family? Start asking God where He might like to use you and your particular gifts and abilities. Start a savings account with that trip in mind. Find a few others who share your interest and begin meeting regularly to explore the whole idea.
And since only 28% of us Americans own a passport…apply for one now. They are good for ten years. Surely we can all respond and serve in that period of time!
Warmest regards in Christ,
Sherry L. Worel
Stoneybrooke Christian Schools