Christian Missions Don’t Have to Suck

It’s no secret that I believe the North American Church has really screwed the pooch when it comes to missions as a whole. Honestly? The more I study and read and learn from more experienced missionaries, the more strongly I feel that the majorityof the “work” we’re doing around the world in the name of Jesus has little to no value, or worse, is actually causing harm to the people we’ve set out to help/reach/bless/save/whatever.
In our efforts to do good and share the good news, we seem to have lost our way. Somewhere along the line, we began to exploit poverty and suffering as a means to evangelize, and the result is a short-sighted, self-focused, arrogant, and wasteful intersection where the Christian faith meets the planet Earth. Humanitarianism took a wrong turn in the hands of sincerely well-meaning Christians. Poor people became “a ripe harvest field”. Meeting basic human needs became “bestowing God’s blessing”. Tragedy became “opportunity”. And the world groaned under the weight of our good intentions.
But we can do better. Christian missions don’t have to suck.
I resolved at the beginning of this year to find people who were doing it well; loving man and loving Jesus in conjunction with each other – but – seamlessly, respectfully, honestly, and uncontrived. I took every opportunity that came my way, and now my calendar is full. And so is my passport. On Friday, I had to zip over to San Francisco to have pages added to my passport, because next week I’m headed to Guatemala and I had no more room for visas.
I’ve been invited, along with a few of my favorite bloggers, to come see the work that WorldVision is doing on the ground through their child sponsorship program. I’m particularly interested in this because I was already a fan of World Vision’s bent toward long-term community development with a clear exit strategy. I think that’s smart. And I think that’s humble. And I hope to see those truths for myself next week.
But what I love the most about World Vision is that while, yes, it is a Christianhumanitarian organization, it does not lord Christianity over the people it serves. World Vision loves because we are commanded to love. They let the rest happen organically, gently, the way it happens for you and me – through relationship.
I love that.
I hope you’ll follow along next week. I’ll be posting something new every day (Which I never do! So I’m kinda freaked out about that). And I hope that you’ll consider partnering with World Vision by sponsoring a Guatemalan child today. 
Click here to sponsor a child today.

I’m increasingly convinced that Christian missions don’t have to suck. When we approach the world thoughtfully, strategically, with expertise and humility, we can fulfill our mission to love God and love others, we can tend to the great commission to go into all the nations. We can do good. And we can love well. Right now, a lot of us are way off course, but missions doesn’t have to be a joke. Also? It doesn’t have to be called “missions”… aaaand I’m pretty sure World Vision figured all this out a long time ago.
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Ever thought that Christian missions kind of suck? Think we can do better?  


1 Comment

  1. Aleta Shepler on August 13, 2018 at 7:51 am

    I know we can do better. And we are in many places in the world. I served on the faculty of a seminary in Venezuela as a missionary of the Reformed Church in America. The missiology was one of interdependence. We missionaries were bridge people bringing human resources across the bridge we shared with the indigenous Venezuelan church. We served as faculty at the seminary where Venezuelans were equipped for Christian leadership. By sending missionaries to the seminary, the North American churches assisted the Venezuelan churches to send students tuition-free. All humanitarian ministry was done by Venezuelans, for Venezuelans, with Venezuelans. What came back across the bridge to the North American churches? A critique of how seminary is being done in the North. Ethnographic research of alternative theological education and ministerial formation. And storytelling. Don’t forget the storytelling.

    Thirty years later, most of our students are scattered like seeds across the world due to the great Venezuelan diaspora. Who knew that we were missionaries to a much larger field? Only God knew.

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