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Changing the focus of short-term mission trips

By September 30, 2015
short-term mission trip_china

MNN’s Ruth Kramer on a short-term mission trip to China.

International (MNN) — Short-term mission trips are often thought of as “going and doing to make Jesus known.”

Dee Yaccino with Del Camino Connection says that perspective is changing.

“There is a shift that has taken place, from having to go and do these things in the absence of people on the ground, to ‘there are Christians all over the globe who are doing wonderful things,’” Yaccino shares.

The focus of short-term mission trips–at least in North American churches–is often on the impact these trips have on those who go. As described here, the benefits of short-term mission trips range from seeing God at work to realizing the power of prayer.

However, the message relayed to communities by those short-term mission trips is usually not a positive one.

“We don’t even realize it, we don’t do it intentionally, but we oftentimes…[see] others as ‘objects’ of our affection, or of our purposes,” Yaccino shares.

But, the fault doesn’t lie with short-term missionaries alone. As teams focus on providing for people in need, those being helped often form a culture of dependence.

“There’s this ‘subculture’ of the way that we relate to one another, kind of ‘using’ one another in utilitarian and functional [ways].”

(Photo courtesy Del Camino Connection via Facebook)

(Photo courtesy Del Camino Connection via Facebook)

It doesn’t mean short-term mission trips should be done away with, Yaccino clarifies. It just requires a different approach moving forward.

Instead of sending teams with outcomes in mind–like building a certain number of houses or drilling a set amount of wells, Yaccino says believers should focus on the heart of the matter.

“When we shift the perspective from being transactional in our partnerships to being relational in partnerships, it changes everything.”

In the coming days, look for more stories about the changing shape of short-term mission trips on Mission Network News.

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