We Americans like things to be
organized and we like things to be clearly defined as to what is kept backstage
(production) and what is onstage (product).
Thus our Sunday church services are carefully choreographed
productions. Worship excellence is
closely tied to how “tight” the band is.
This expectation carries over to
short-term mission (STM) projects. Most
of the adult participants I’ve watched seem to have a subliminal expectation
that their STM project be analogous to a theater production – it’s an
experience, and they rightfully hope it may be a life-changing one.
Call me a panderer, but I have
fully bought into this mindset as I run Adventures In Missions. Even partner churches are part of a
performance for STM agencies like AIM. I
tell our staff, “When our U.S.
church partners stay and work with us, we exercise the gift of
hospitality. Everything we do must communicate,
‘You are welcome here.’ The AIM team
works in a unified way to create an experience.
Everyone backstage works together to support those who are on-stage
leading the project.”
The primary on-stage performer is the project leader. He or she is constantly under pressure. The primary person off-stage is the camp
In the past, camp directors have sometimes gotten so
familiar with their camp that they have at times forgotten that it was a stage
and that a live production was going on.
Occasionally our AIM camp directors walk on-stage and assert themselves
rather than maintaining their servant leader role. This is the cardinal sin for a camp
I tell our staff, “There is a time for evaluations when the
production is over, but all that we do backstage must support those on stage
during the production.”
OK, blog readers, what do you think? Have I sold out? Am I wrong about this? This is a tension with which we continually
wrestle as we run our STMs.