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Missionaries forgetting where they came from

Over and over again I watch the very missionaries I’ve mobilized through a short-term experience tell me, “It’s too much work. I don’t want to host any more teams.” Hosting a short-term-mission (STM) team is a lot of work for missionaries. It often requires that they interrupt their …
By Seth Barnes

Over and over again I watch the very missionaries I’ve
mobilized through a short-term experience tell me, “It’s too much work. I don’t want to host any more teams.” Hosting a short-term-mission (STM) team

is a lot of work for missionaries.

It often requires that they interrupt their
regular ministry in order to act as servants.
And they often have to cater to Americans who are obnoxious and
self-centered and should have been screened out – people who have no business
on the mission field.

Yes, too many STMers are a nuisance, but missionaries who
only air their frustration about them without seeing their purpose are no less
short-sighted. It’s amazing how quickly
they forget where they came from. A STM
project is two parts recruitment tool and one part training program. Talk to almost any missionary on the field
and they’ll tell you that’s how they got their start in missions.

Missionaries who get frustrated with STM teams are like high
school teachers who get frustrated with the noise generated by a nearby
kindergarten. They’re like the senior
citizens lobbying for higher taxes on wage earners.

If we want to be at all strategic about missions, we have to
take seriously the job of raising up the next generation of missionaries. Yes we want to disciple locals to take over
the work we started. But what about the
next mission field; who will go there?
The world desperately needs more missionaries. So, what is our plan for 2015?

The smart farmer is always paying close attention to his
seed corn. The weather this year may not
be good and the harvest may be suffering.
But if he is to have any hope next year, he’ll carefully steward that
investment in the future.

It’s true that many of our short-termers don’t belong on the
field. Far too many churches don’t
adequately screen or prepare their teams.
And their presence on the mission field is a net negative. They spend $1000 a participant to do VBS and
a bit of construction with a bunch of spoiled Americans with attitudes.

The answer to that problem is better screening and
preparation, not a moratorium on STMs. I
want to ask all missionaries reading this, what are you doing to replace
yourself? How are you raising up future
missionaries?

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