Rachel Fitch and I just finished reading a book called Freeing Congregational Ministry by B. Hunter Farrell with S. Balajiedlang Khyllep. It provides a practical vision for companionship, cultural humility and co-development that is a useful guide for short-term missions trips. Their purpose in writing the book is to “help free congregational mission from harmful cultural forces so churches can better partner with God’s work in the world.”
The modern missionary movement has changed significantly in the past 20 years. The new model is focused around understanding cultural differences, building sustainable relationships over a period of time, and finding ways to include entire congregations in the mission process and outcomes. In working with mission partners, the idea is to become companions on the journey as we discover where God is already at work. Focusing on a critique of short-term mission, the authors offer ways to redeem mission trips that focus on “tourism”, “poverty voyeurism” or what we will “get out of it” so that the impact of these trips might increase.
Basically, mission is not about us. It’s not about moving into another culture and making things happen according to our vision. Rather, mission is about engaging in God’s work with a global partner to learn more about God and God’s work in the world. It is a way to broaden our horizons and learn from our partners through service and reflection.
Several years ago, a team of youth parents at FPC worked with Outreach ministry to prepare for a mission trip to Kenya. It was a wonderful trip that connected our youth with youth from Sister2Sister, a ministry that First Presbyterian supports. Out of the careful planning for that trip came vision and goals for Global Mission that have now been adapted and adopted by the Outreach Committee as a model for all of our mission trips. Here they are:
Create an environment where lives are changed, and faith is transformed by God while broadening perspectives, igniting a passion to be servant leaders, and making lasting connections to a global community of faith.
Mission Trip Goals
- To connect and partner with a sustainable global mission organization that is making lasting Christ-centered impacts on its community.
- To find a mission organization that FPC can establish a long-term partnership with, allowing us to maintain connections and plan future trips over time.
- To find a mission organization whose ministry can be integrated across all generational programming so that the entire church can engage in the mission whether they go on the trip or not.
- To connect with the awareness of the needs globally, inspiring our members to be agents of change while continuing connections and relationships built during and after the mission trip.
No doubt these goals will be refined as we enter back into this ministry after the pandemic. We are hoping to put together a youth trip in 2024 to Sister2Sister and host A Taste of Kenya in 2023. These are exciting times.
So, let us continue to pray that God will lead us as we move out into the world creating sustainable relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters around the globe.