the shape of leadership

Four Reasons NOT to Go on a Missions Trip

Keep your motives in the right place and your expectations realistic

Influence Magazine on May 3, 2018

Short-term missions trips are an incredible way to promote global outreach to your church. And they’re also an amazing opportunity to minister to the lost, help strengthen the Church worldwide, and grow closer to the Lord.

However, if you go on a missions trip with the wrong motive or motivation, you can cause harm, both to yourself and the people you’re attempting to help.

Before you take that next trip, examine the reasons behind it — and help others in your church do the same. Here are four reasons not to go on a missions trip:

You Want to Save the World

Unfortunately, some people go on a missions trip believing they can put on a superhero cape, fly into action, and personally solve every problem they encounter. This way of thinking is erroneous.

Jesus is the answer to any and every problem in the world. Our job is to point people to Him. It’s not about ministers saving the world; it’s about Jesus saving souls. Anything that happens outside of that is secondary. When ego gets in the way, we run the risk of forfeiting what God has planned.

You’re Doing Something for Locals They Can Do Themselves

Isn’t the goal of a missions trip to work hard and provide for local believers in need? Of course. But sometimes assisting people in foreign contexts — either outside our country or just outside our neighborhood — can damage their ongoing development.

Some people believe they can put on a superhero cape, fly into action, and personally solve every problem they encounter.

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert write about this in their book When Helping Hurts. When providing aid, understand the difference between relief, rehabilitation and development.

Relief is addressing concerns immediately after a catastrophe, while rehabilitation is taking people back to pre-catastrophe conditions. Development is helping them strengthen the systems they already have in place. In all those scenarios, you need to work alongside the ones you’re assisting.

Harness the power of the local community, both before you get there and while you’re on the ground. That way, when you return home, you’ll leave behind something that will last.

You Want Quick and Easy Results

Most missions trips are a week or two of whirlwind progress. Building a church, digging a water well or leading a crusade are typical activities. But what happens in a few days or weeks can have eternal impact, as long as you don’t look for quick results.

Paul was a master missionary. He knew that his job was to plant seed others would water (1 Corinthians 3:6). In today’s context, parenting and nurturing a work led by local believers is the best option. Instead of searching for a quick fix, consider making a long-term investment on the mission field.

You’re Just Checking Off a Spiritual Box

It’s easy to see a missions trip for the personal spiritual benefits you gain. Of course, these benefits are real. Going with a wide-open heart, you will likely experience untold blessings that will change you in positive ways.

However, don’t let this become just another box you check off. Don’t go on a missions trip simply because you think you have to do it. Instead, search your heart. Going to the mission field with the right motivation will ensure this is a good investment of your time.

Missions trips are a great way to build the kingdom of God. Make the most of your next trip by putting aside your plans and expectations, offering yourself as a willing servant, and asking God to work in and through you to accomplish His purpose.

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