Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sending $$$, people or both?

Mission trips can expensive! It is possible to have a mission trip that has a reasonable cost per person if it is possible to drive to the destination. Involve an airplane and the $$$s go up quickly.

Our church is planning a mission trip to a Native village in Alaska. It will cost approximately $700/person just in travel fees! That is $7,000 dollars if just ten people go! Additionally, we will spend $$$ on food, supplies and materials to fix up the building. I am sure that the Alaskan church could use that $7,000. They could use it to heat the building, buy curriculum, pay insurance, etc. The church could use that money to hire local workers to do the building maintenance that our mission team would do (this would provide some local jobs that are desperately needed).

Some would say that if we really cared about that Alaskan church we would send them the $$$ instead of sending our group up to that church. They could also say that it is selfish to insist that our people go on that mission experience. In the short run that kind of criticism is fair (and probably true!).

Mission giving with participation kills mission. I firmly believe that mission giving goes up when there is active participation in mission. I also believe that mission giving will go down when there is no active participation in mission. The PCUSA is a good example of this. Many of the PCUSA mission co-workers are college/university/seminary professors. How are the people-in-the-pews going to participate in their ministries—sit in their classes? Many of the “missions” of our mission co-workers do not lend themselves to our sending them mission groups. Thus, our congregations are not excited about supporting those mission efforts. On the other hand, we can participate with a small Alaskan village church in their life and mission. We can help them develop a worship team and help fix their plumbing. We can send them $$$ and help them with a VBS. We can help that church buy Christmas presents for every student in the K – 12 school. Our people can participate in that mission—thus, we are excited about that mission.

If we don’t send people and money to mission projects it will not be long before we don’t send money to mission projects.


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