Four of the high school students from my church and two from work are off on short term mission trips with their school this week. The trip is 10 days in length, so it's very short term.
I've been talking a bit with some of the kids going, as well as a couple of the parents. Some things I like: one mom told me about the mission prep classes, and how her son had to write about what being a Christian meant, how to give his testimony, someone who had impacted is life. This is good stuff.
There are too many things, however, that bother me. Most if it has to do with the purpose of the trip. When I talk to the students, they talk about things like building houses, interacting with kids at an orphanage, being involved with a sports ministry. None of them talk about bringing the gospel to the unsaved. Most of it sounds like regular volunteer trips that could be done by any secular school.
When the parents ask for prayer, it centers around their children. Now, I'm good with prayers for safety. I totally understand that they are sending their children into a foreign country, most of them for the first time. The rest of the prayer requests, though, bother me. They want prayer that this trip will have a great impact on their children, that their lives will be changed. They do not ask that their children will bring the gospel to the lost, or that God will do a mighty work in the unsaved.
This is wrong. A mission trip is not supposed to be about the missionary. It's supposed to be about the recipients of the missionary's message.
Listen: if it's all about the children, don't send them to some foreign country for 10 days. Instead, get them involved regularly in volunteer work in their own city. Get them learning to reach the lost and needy around them.
Also, why the foreign country? I find it a bit suspect that all the mission destinations are places where it's hot with nice beaches. Why not bring the kids up north, maybe to the reserves where there is great need? That way, they can go more than once through the year.
The more I hear about these school mission trips, the more concerned I am. It seems to be too much about the people going and that's not right.