So let’s ask some of the questions that Greg McKinzie asks in Mission Dei and apply it to some of the trips that we have undertaken up here in the North Country.
The church that wishes to assess the relative value of its STM faces a knot of considerations. Though the missiological analysis has usually focused on quantifiable issues, such as the number of long-term missionaries produced or the amount of increased financial support for missions, other questions are far more qualitative in nature. The following list suggests the complexity of evaluating the various dimensions of STM relative to one another:
- Tangible receiver benefits (conversions, buildings built, patients seen, etc.) vs. money invested: for example, does putting the roof on that building justify the trip’s expense?
- Tangible receiver benefits vs. tangible goer benefits (long-term mission decisions, increased missions advocacy, increased offerings, etc.): for example, if receivers benefit little from pulled teeth, does an increase in missions offerings justify the trip?
These are great questions and we have asked before – why are you putting a roof on a church or a school when there are perfectly healthy individuals where ever it is you are that can put on a roof if they had the materials? If we send students over to basically learn from folks how they do mission so that they can come home and be advocates for the partner churches mission, does it justify the expense? What if we sent the money to Synod to do as needed, would the cost and benefit ratio be better? The problem with that is we can’t “experience” the ‘as needed’ portion of the Synod budget.
My group that went to Kenya in January went for PR. We took pictures and video and the young people are doing presentations to raise money and awareness of the ELCK mission projects. So far the cost involved in their trip has been repaid many times over. The question then is – “was it a short term mission?”
Stephanie Erlandson is doing a presentation about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative in Fergus Falls this week. Kyle is talking at Lamoure North Dakota this Sunday. Cheryl has been helping with presentations and scheduling. I know that Annie and Kurt have been active as well in telling the story of our partnership with the Kenyans. These folks are available for presentations – give us a call or email – firstname.lastname@example.org