On the eve of our church’s world mission weekend called “World Fest,” I want to weigh in on a question often raised in today’s Christian Mission discussions. Are short mission trips really worth the expenditure of money and energy? Some cynically assert that they can even do more harm than good.
Last month, our staff attended our Evangelical Covenant pastors’ conference. Mark Labberton was teaching one morning from Psalm 8. He unwrapped a simple but profound summary of the Story of God’s plan we see throughout Scripture:
1. God pays attention to us! (“What is man that you are mindful of him…” v. 4) Are our eyes open to the astonishing fact that the God of the universe sees, attends, pays persistent attention to our lives as his image bearers!
2. We are called to pay attention to God: to open our eyes to see the Lord – in his Word and in his world.
3. Then God says, ”Pay attention to the people of the world in My name!” (“You have given him dominion – skilled mastery – over the created order…” v. 6)
God wants us to see the people that are invisible, people who need attention, people who we ignore and forget, who need the hope Jesus brings. We are called to see the world as God sees – to let him give us NEW VISION!
I had an epiphany (a light went on!) about why we need to be sending Mission Teams from our churches. We know It’s not about what WE can do. We do not bring God to people; we go and join God in what he’s already doing! Rather, when we send our people – we are sending “SEERS” (or is it See-ers!) When they SEE more of their fellow image-bearers from all nations, their eyes begin to open. They come back and help more of the church community here to see and engage; to love and take action!
So Mission Trips are really VISION trips, to mobilize our church to fulfill our calling – to attend to the world God Loves, in his name!
Will we open our eyes and pay attention?
Will we volunteer to be See-ers; Visionaries in the Mission of God?