I worked for quite a while this morning on this blog and when I published it there was nothing there.  Let’s see if it works this time.

In the year 2000 book came out that in many ways changed portions of my life, or at least the way I think about life.  It’s called “Postmodern Pilgrims” by Leonard Sweet. The smaller title is  “First Century Passion for the 21st-century World”. In the book Sweet talks about what he sees as experiential spirituality taking place among the coming generation.  Generations in the past discussed things and learned about them through discussion. New generations want to experience things. He talks about how the language of Scripture is being ripped off and used in the advertisement for products that people want to buy but in the buying they want the process to be an experience.

 In many ways I believe the phenomenon of the short term mission trip is the fulfillment of many of the prophecies that are written in book. It is not enough for people to simply write a check and send it to “missions” whatever that may  be.  They want an experience even if the experience is a servant event or an ingathering.  They want that hands on ‘experience’.

I see it in the ingatherings.  I spend a great deal of time telling people that ingatherings are wonderful and appreciated but getting things to Kenya is extremely expensive and painful if you ahve to do it in your own suitcase.  Cost benefit analysis says – “send money and they can buy their own supplies over there and help their economy too”.  But people want the experience of ingatherings.  It great.  Just painful.

The point is the phenomenon of the Short Term Mission Trip is being discussed in missiological circles, at Board meetings and funding meetings all over and we need to think about it too.  Churches in Minnesota and North Dakota that send people, or hve people go on their own “STM” need to think about these things.

What is the benefit and who receives it?  What is the cost over and against the benefit received?  Our crowd always likes to talk about the “Theological implications of what we are doing”.  Here are some others.

  • Tangible receiver benefits (conversions, buildings built, patients seen, etc.) vs. money invested
  • Tangible receiver benefits vs. tangible goer benefits.
  • Tangible receiver benefits vs. intangible goer benefits (worldview transformation, spiritual formation, etc
  • Money invested vs. tangible goer benefits
  • Money invested vs. intangible goer benefits
  • Intangible goer benefits vs. tangible goer benefits
  • Any goer benefits vs. intangible receiver benefits.
  • Any goer benefits vs. intangible receiver harm.

We are going to be discussing these on this blog for a while and would appreciate any comments, especially from those who ahve gone on STM’s