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Why does the idea of a missions cruise turn my stomach?

Here’s an idea that I found oxymoronic: a “missions cruise.” I received this email about it just now: “Discover the World of Possibilities on a cruise to Discover opportunities all over the World. The time promises to be fun, rewarding, challenging, and spiritually revitalizing. Speakers who …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Here’s an idea that I found oxymoronic: a “missions cruise.” I received this email about it just now:

“Discover the World of Possibilities on a cruise to Discover opportunities all over the World. The time promises to be fun, rewarding, challenging, and spiritually revitalizing. Speakers who have worked all over the globe will share experiences and teach sessions throughout the six days. There will also be a children’s program covering different world cultures, crafts, and customs from different language groups. There will be fun activities for the whole family in addition to those offered by the cruiseline.”

If people can’t catch the irony in a group of overweight Americans gorging at the buffet table while hearing about the plight of starving orphans, then they’ve got a tin ear.

Mind you, I’m all for cruises and nice vacations. Karen and I are going on vacation tomorrow and I am thankful for the break and the beautiful beach we’ll be visiting. And I’ve got no problem with a day off to relax at the end of hard work on a mission trip. We just have to be careful where we draw the lines – missions is not a spectacle, it’s a lifestyle.

Comments (26)

  • I have never been on one of these mission trips but I have to agree with everything my sister Alexis said. Who are we to judge others?

    To many times we put God in a box and say stay here. This is the way its always been done so we don’t want to do it any other way. We serve a BIG God who is more than able to work in any way He chooses!!! His ways are not our ways!!!

    Praying for sickness on those people is not God’s ways!! This is the type of talk that turns people away from God not to Him. God does not wish sickness on anyone!!!!

    God gives us 2 commandments to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. #2 Love your neighboor as your self. We need to walk in LOVE WITH ONE ANOTHER!!! You wouldn’t wish sickness on your family so why would you wish it on the body of Christ? God never intend us to be poor so why do we continue to act like it?

    I would much rather someone go on a trip and minister to those in need. Then to have a trip that is toally about me. I have read a little about this cruise mission and they tell you what to bring to help these kids and there community. These change what was done 20 years ago may not be as effictive as a new method. As long as they are preaching the Word of God then noone has a right to judge them.

    Please be careful when you are talking about God’s children.
    Be blessed
    your sister in Christ

  • I have really respected a lot of what you say but I will have to agree with the dissenters on this one.
    I know a lot of people have said the same thing re: any short term missions groups (including the world race) but I believe that this group really supports the local churches and their ministries.
    Great stuff!

  • The idea of a “Mission’s Cruise” is so MORALLY WRONG that it doesn’t warrent a response. I will only pray that everyone on the cruise gets the worst form of Malaria, so they can have a true lesson on solidarity with those suffering. Man…the evangelicals who put this on are so DUMB. Just when you think humanity can’t get any worse you read about crap like this.

  • Well, I have never been on a cruise like this (and it looks like those that have commented so far haven’t either). However I think that it’s still a good idea.
    It’s not just a missions trip extravaganza, though. But they have speakers too, like a conference. So people get the chance to learn about how to be effective in the kingdom of God and then the next day they get the chance to apply it.
    That’s awesome.
    And, yes, it looks pretty snazzy, but I guarantee that, as the missionaries enounter pverty and suffering, they’ll get back on that ship with so much hunility and thankfulness in their hearts.

    It breaks my heart that we would call our family members “dumb” and stereotype all of these cruisers as “overweight Americans” and ask God to afflict them with disease…

    They could have easily chosen a more luxurious “vacation” that took less work and time and money.
    But they didn’t.

    We are all part of the body of Christ. So we should be excited for any form of ministry that our brothers and sisters are able to engage in.
    We could always pray for these cruises and the ministry that takes place and pray for the speakers and ask God that if there are wrong intentions in their hearts, that they would be changed.
    = )

    Your sis in Christ,
    [ .18, Texas. ]

  • thanks for your sensitivity, Alexis. I was a little harsh.

    my main issue is that it may feel good to us, but we have to be careful about the signals we send others. their idea of ministry was to go down the gangplank to pass out tracts for the afternoon. I just think that gives missions a black eye.

  • I went on a two week missions trip to the Philippines last summer. I flew on a 5 star airline to get there and back. I don’t believe that Christ honestly cares if I don’t punish myself on the way to do his work. Anyone who has worked in the missions field and not come back a totally changed person….well I don’t know if that person can honestly exist.
    I know that God sees what is in our hearts and what our intentions are. And I certainly know the people who we are helping to lead to Christ will not care.
    Christians need to quit being so judgmental of others and show love, charity, and patience to everyone!
    I am seriously considering going on one of these cruises next year. I will post a response and let everyone know how it went.


  • Tami,

    We look forward to your report.

    For the record, I’ve got no issue with what kind of jet gets you to your mission trip. I hope to get an upgrade when we fly to Spain later this week. I think it’s great you were able to fly in style to your missions destination. What’s important is what occurs while you’re there.

    My issue is the every day mixing of motives that occurs on a missions cruise and the poor missiology. There’s very little of value that you can do on the mission field in a couple hours before re-boarding your ship.

    For some standards of excellence, check this out: http://www.stmstandards.org

  • I went on a mission cruise with my family to the western Caribbean in January, and it was a great experience: the perfect combination of relaxation and hard work. Instead of shopping and drinking at each port, we painted people’s homes, spent time with elderly in retirement homes, put on a children’s carnival at the beach, and ministered to men in prison, talked with youth at the local high school, and helped rebuild a church. We worked hard all day and relaxed in the evening. It’s a great way for elderly people (and youth alike!) to have a chance to relax while helping people in need. What’s so wrong about that? It’s better than lounging around all day which is what most people do on vacation!

  • I think there must be a reason I logged on to this specific site. I’m ready to go! I too would love any info on how to participate in such a trip!!!

  • I was researching mission trips to go on with my 10-year old. A cruise ship mission would be a great opportunity to introduce her to the missions field. I understand people’s concerns that it is hypocritical, and there is a mixing of motives, but I am okay with that. I think some people need to start slow and after personally going on 3 mission trips, 2 of which were “suffering” missions, I no longer believe it is necessary to suffer to experience a life-changing trip. Each trip I’ve gone on has made me want to do more to change the world. I took my other daughter at 9 years old on a trip to the Dominican Republic and it changed her life. If you are looking to take your kids, check out http://www.lifetreeadventures.com.

  • I’ve been on Cruise with a Mission 4 times. If you have very limited time off of work, this is a great way to combine some relaxation, travel, spiritual revival, and mission. We’ve taken our 2 year old with us twice, and hope to take her on more involved mission trips when she is school aged. See what types of projects we do in the ports here: http://www.cye.org/cwm/cruises/2012/ports.html.

  • This is a great way of having a mode of transportation to get to as many places to bless as many people, as possible. Would someone criticize people for for taking a luxurious airplane, bus, RV, car, train, etc. to be able to do missions at different locations? This is just another “tool” that the Lord can use to minister to others. The cost of running a ship such as ones done by Youth With A Mission and Operation Mobilization costs Tens of Thousands to Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars per day and I don’t hear people criticizing the amount of money that they spend on fuel costs, food costs, etc. Utilizing the Cruise Ship companies that are footing the enormous bill of the fuel costs and crew costs is an excellent use of stewardship…especially when we only have to pay a couple of hundred of dollars a day to minister rather than 10s of thousands of dollars- let the other people on the cruise ship, fund the Lord’s missions trip. The TREASURES OF DARKNESS are going into the TREASURES OF LIGHT in this area, in a BIG WAY! Hallelujah! Furthermore, putting down other believers for spreading the gospel in the way that the Lord has shown them to do…is not a godly response, whatsoever. We have enough attack coming from the enemy, as it is, that we don’t need other believers being the enemy’s instrument. The Missions Cruise is a great way for families with young children to minister to others and show their children different cultures, while teaching them about spreading the gospel to all nations. As for the comment about from Seth regarding “There’s very little of value that you can do on the mission field in a couple hours before re-boarding your ship.” This comment is a clear example of putting “God into a box.” God then comes by our boxes and asks us “What do you have in that box?” because He is so much bigger than our small-minded thinking. The Apostle Peter would just walk by people and they would be healed, so many people would just try to sit in the way of where is shadow would land because Peter was so busy ministering and healing people everywhere he went. I have faith in a God that will touch other people, through me, even if I’m near them even for a fraction of a second. My God is SO BIG, So Strong, and So Mighty…there’s nothing My God can not do….for you and me and others! These criticisms are useless and don’t further the kingdom of God…everything is about Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. Blessings to all of you! 🙂

  • You should not comment on it if you have not done it. I am disabled and could not do it any other way. I worked cleaning up a school yard in the jungle in Hati than made animal balloons that I purchased for hundreds of children and put a smile on their face and did close to the same in Jamacica and than Mexico I paid for everything myself and no one donated anything. So just mind your own unless your more experienced and blessed

  • My husband and I have done this twice ourselves. It was a wonderful experience. (We also cruise quite often for vacation. It is a totally different experience, as you know!)

  • How did you find contacts to work with in the port? I am going on a cruise to cozumel in May and would love to spend my time in port spreading the gospel but I’m not really sure where to start. Any advice? Please email me with any information you may have! ([email protected])

  • I agree with Philip….I always wanted to go on the mission field to impoverished country, but my husband didn’t share in my vision. So we raised our children, now have grandchildren and great grandchildren. My husband passed away and I remarried, but now I am older and have physical limitations. I can’t do the long flights because of this. I would have to experience this to be able to say anything negative.

  • Just as Seth posted his “…stomach is turned,” my is turned when I read someone who has such little understanding of what a “mission” trip should be. I have been on many Mission Cruises and I have always been very blessed. It’s funny how we have this concept that we need hardship to make something qualify. Funny thing is, the mission is actually happening more on the ship, then at the “mission” location. This brings us to the understanding that every day we wake up, God brings people into our lives that can be “our mission” and it doesn’t have to be in a poor neighborhood. I hope other readers of this article will see past the shortsightedness of the author’s post. And while he goes on vacation, I would invite those that want to experience a positive uplifting vacation that can also serve others, join a mission cruise. Hopefully you will make some life time connections, enjoy good food and you might be surprised to find out what the true mission really is…

    • Don’t listen to me – go to the top accepted authority on the subject. There are some universal standards of excellence that more than a hundred agencies subscribe to here: http://www.soe.org/ I’ll endorse any mission trip where those standards are in place.

  • My adventures have been solely with Cruise with a Mission hosted by CYE. As far as I’m aware it was one of the original cruise with a mission concepts (there may have been others- I don’t know.) I can’t speak to any other trips. But my experience has been very positive. I don’t need an endorsement from an agency to spot a positive experience.

  • Interesting comments and very helpful in the process of leading me to ask the Holy Spirit to teach me how to pray about talking a cruise mission trip.. My first thought was: “I will probably gag on the first bite of food I put into my mouth at the cruise ship table; knowing that the price I paid for the trip would most likely feed a family for s year in the area where we would “pop in and out.” (Remember the “Teach them how to fish story?”)
    Such events in Missions are sometimes innocent efforts to help others feel good, by helping us feel good for having done good” (often planned by those
    who have not lived in a third world country).

  • Amen. I am considering going on a missions cruise because I like cruises and I like helping people. Why not do both at the same time.

  • Well said, John. Six of us cruised the Eastern Caribbean and served on the 5 islands that we visited. It took months of prayer, planning and coordinating. Each port activity was unique. But, as you said we had possibly more ministry opportunity while on the ship. We had daily opportunities to encourage and pray with our room steward, meal servers, and others who served us throughout the week. Everyday our cruise mates asked us what we did for our excursion and what it was like. They were drawn to our passion and our reason (That would be Jesus!) We looked forward to seeing those who served us everyday and built a relationship with some who asked for our thoughts on Bible Study materials for their ship’s small groups, books to read and biblical answers to their very confusing questions. We prayed for them daily and still do today. This mission cruise was my first cruise and will always try to cruise this way and include a deeper focus on serving those who are serving us on the ship. That was a sweet surprise!

  • Well, my wife and I have been on two cruises and we use the ship to get to the people in need. The directors have contacts set up for us in each port and we get off in the AM and work for the people and return to the ship in the PM. It’s amazing what 50 people can accomplish in a day. We have painted houses, youth centers schools and missionaries homes, replaced termite eated boards, constructed ramps for the handicapped, roofed buildings, worshipped with prisoners, visited nursing homes and day care centers and brought large amounts of soaps, vitamins and other essentials needed by those who cannot get them in any other way. We also worship with the ships crew members late at nite when they get off of work. Yes we do get to eat well and sleep in a clean bed but is that so bad?

  • Hi everyone,

    One, I liked the standards website because as a business person I fully adhere to the “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” philosophy and missions IS God’s business. But God is also much bigger than what we can put on paper so we do have to be careful of “putting God in a box” and not thinking that God can do things beyond our human capabilities of measuring and defining.

    I think the cruise mission is just one more awesome example of being able to incorporate missions into everything that we do. I would LOVE to know the % of people that a cruise mission is their first international (or any) mission experience and then what % of people go on to do other missions (locally and internationally). I am blessed to have a job and 2 weeks of vacation and I think it is very honoring to take a week of that vacation to both de-stress and relax while serving others.

    Amy and Arvid above, could you please email me to let me know more about the cruises you went on. I am actually looking to begin a short term cruise missions format and looking to coordinate with existing church missions out there. Thank you!

    [email protected]

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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