(Is it sinful to title something provocatively in hopes that people will read it?)
Today in class we talked about mission trips. As tends to happen in seminary classes, we ended up quite critical of popular practice. Thankfully, we moved beyond deconstruction and towards construction of a proper mission trip-ish type experience. Something that tended to come out, based on the theological convictions espoused in the class, were mission trips that:
- Establish ongoing relationships by returning to a particular community rather than migrating to a different locale every year.
- Immerse the group in culture as opposed to making sure there is always something to “do.”
- Create authentic action out of these relationships and immersion.
In discussing these things and seeing the theological importance of such an approach I was struck by just how deficient is the label “Mission Trip.” The label seems to designate within it something detached from local context, temporary, and for the benefit of “our” group. Maybe that is just the baggage the phrase has taken upon itself by the practices of the western church, but that is what comes to my mind.
If we are going to move towards theologically-grounded missional relationships, perhaps we need to call them by something different than a “mission trip”, because it is more than a “trip.” It is a relationship. What should we call it? Should we call it anything?