Wednesday, April 13, 2011

First Off: Let’s Address the Elephant in the Room

Vision trips are a touchy subject. Ideally, we would not need them for churches everywhere to do the task that they have been created to do in the places where they live. In a perfect world (or as perfect a world as there could be where sin still existed and churches were required to be the body of Christ in said world) churches would be sending, or teaming up to send, people out into parts of the world where there was no church to start churches.

Before you get too far into this post, you need to know that I am not simply going to pooh all over the idea of visions trips completely, and specifically I see a lot of good with the Jet Set trips (in spite of the name) so hang with me for a bit…

The negative view of mission trips stems all the way back into my childhood and up through my formative years as a young adult.

Growing up on the “mission filed” I knew that being a “Missional Christian” was not glamorous. Sure we lived in a country where the culture was different and people spoke another language, but it was simply home to us. You either lived out your faith in your neighborhood or you didn’t. However, the observation that we were led to make in those early years was that American Christians were terribly two-faced. They would come on trips for a week or two and be incredibly spiritual and motivated to share their faith with strangers. When you saw those same Christians or others like them back in the States, in their own environment, they only ever looked like that in church buildings. Out in the community, they were incognito.

The same impression continued in college, where every year for spring break a group of students would go do “mission work” among strangers on the beach, but many of those same students wouldn’t dare let it be known that they were serious Christians back home where they actually had to live. The argument was that we needed to take people out of their comfort zones to show them how they should really behave all the time. The problem was that it didn’t work and it just allowed people to appease their lack of radical faith by pretending to have it for a week or two each year.

So basically, people need to be inspired, changed and motivated where they are at, so that they can do what they are supposed to be doing.

Instead, we have a hopelessly out of touch, locked in some sort of time capsule, culturally foreign church that needs to learn to speak to the world again. For a time, this looks like it will require getting some churches and leadership to see the way “missionaries” reach out cross-culturally so that they can use and teach these methods back home to their members and other churches. If this is what is needed, then the guys behind the Jet Set Tours appear to be pointing people in the right direction. As with the whole Missional Movement, it is not the norm but a triage that is needed to get us back on track. Hopefully the churches that are born out of the efforts of this generation will not need to be so cross-cultural to reach their neighbors!

Just don’t let me get started on the name. I know it is supposed to be ironic, but my South American background clouds my perspective. Prague and Budapest for a week is apropos.


  1. Thanks for writing this. You make some good points. I feel many of the younger churches in the states are really positioned well for mission. I believe most understand how to live out your faith daily outside the context of four walls. My hope is that more and more sense the calling to a cross cultural work in their city and beyond.

    BTW .. You may have seen this but just in case you have not. It may not change your mind on the name but it is worth a shot. smile

    thanks again.

  2. Yeah, I have seen that but decided to be contrary anyway--all in good fun. I like my names to not need too much explanation. (Note the huge FAIL I pulled in naming this blog, huh?)

  3. Oh we love being contrary. Thanks for talking about the elephant in the room.


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