OK, I’ve been on a few short-term missions trips. They’ve been good. I’ve had a great time with youth or other adults. I’ve enjoyed the process.
But, I’ve also heard the bad stuff about short-term missions. Sometimes it can be paternalistic. Sometimes, when going to impoverished areas, the missionaries go back to swanky hotels for fancy dinners while the persons they are there to serve go hungry.
But Aaron Monts uses short-term missions as a way to talk about discipleship in the local church…that what short-term missions provide is an “Active-Reflective Environment” which is different that just passing along information (which is what most of our discipleship has been). Here’s some of what he has to say on his blog:
In my experiences and through many conversations, the common consensus is no greater transformation of the disciple occurs than in those who return home from a short-term missions trip. Now, while it is completely impractical and perhaps not very beneficial to send hundreds of people each year from your congregation on short-term missions trips, it does say something about the total immersion into discipleship that occurs. It is an active engagement of the mind, the heart, the body, the soul. Sure, some of the transformation wears off once the person returns home and some time has elapsed, but is there not something important to take away from this experience?
The core of a short-term missions experience from a discipleship standpoint is that of the active-reflective environment in which the person is immersed. We have become really good at creating environments where one or the other are present–action without reflection or reflection without action. Active-reflective discipleship is the key to unlocking not only discipleship, but the true heart of missional discipleship: a discipleship that takes an active role in the Missio Dei (Mission of God).
So, does “Active-Reflective” ring true to you?