My research is moving along well. I am now working on a review of academic literature specifically related to short-term missions. Below, I offer some thoughts about mission in general, short-term mission, and the theological reflection therein. (For good measure I throw in a few thoughts about life in Britain.)
Between 1.6 and 2 million Americans participate in a short-term transnational mission trip each year. I define “short-term” as less than two weeks. This number is likely on the higher end of this range, but the exact research hasn’t been done just yet. Considering the number of domestic service journeys, the number of those participating in service trips is even higher.
- Nearly 20% of church-attenders (those who attend at least once a month) participated in a short-term transnational mission experience before they were 18 years old.
- Approximately half of seminary students say that they have participated in a short-term transnational mission journey.
- 98% of seminary students say that they expect to participate in such mission in their churches.
- Many (probably most) participants in short-term transnational mission journeys are youth and young adults.
- Some of the most popular countries for American short-term mission service are: Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Dominica Republic, Nicaragua, Brazil, and South Africa.
- As the saying goes, “Your motives are demonstrated in your actions.” Some mission experiences go very well and some have room for improvement. Considering all of these points above, I am curious to know what theological training mission leaders receive. How do they see themselves and their mission in light of the Gospel and the Mission of God? I am carefully examining the theological underpinnings of such mission practices. With the proper reflection on biblical motives, our actions will demonstrate God’s mission.
- The practice of short-term mission service is likely to stay. Considering the numbers, tens of millions of people are being affected. Scholars say that there is a gap in academic work regarding this pervasive practice. I look forward to working to do my small part to contribute to filling that gap.
- What fuel contributes to this work? Of course prayer and a strong sense of vocation. With that in mind, I’ll offer this papal quote from Clement VIII who was elected pope in 1592. Speaking of coffee, “This devil’s drink is so delicious…we should cheat the devil by baptizing it.” Coffee, the fuel for the Ph.D.
- On another note: If you caught Beth’s post yesterday you’ll know that she tried to “sneak” some lamb (instead of beef) steaks to the dinner table. Well, the kiddos weren’t fooled. They spotted it coming. Meg took her “No, thank you” bite. Joshua asked for seconds.
- And a bonus: I learned this week that Beth is not a fan of the taste of lamb steaks.