I love missions and have participated in short-term and long-term opportunities in Africa, Mexico, and many parts of the United States. For almost five years Lagniappe Presbyterian church, a church I helped plant, hosted approximate twenty thousand volunteers who traveled to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Katrina relief. For ten years I traveled to disaster zones, performing assessments and establishing basecamps where short-term teams would serve. It is for these reasons that I'm delighted for the opportunity to direct and develop MNA’s ShortTerm Missions and Internship program for the Presbyterian Church in America.
Yet while I have observed the benefits and blessings of short-term missions, I believe there must be a significant realignment of our core values. It's at this point that I am compelled to declare a certain affinity with Tom Cruise’s character in Cameron Crowe’s 1996 film, Jerry Maguire. In that film, Cruise plays a sport’s agent who has become increasingly frustrated in an industry which has come to define success by more clients and more money while simultaneously devaluing the personal nature of those relationships. While on an agency retreat in Miami, Jerry’s epiphany becomes a twenty five page mission statement in which he encourages his peers to emphasize relationships over profits, declaring "With so many clients we had forgotten what was important...The answer is fewer clients. Less money."
Not long after distributing a
copy to each of his coworkers, Jerry gets fired. The rest of the film is essentially a journey from this port, where everyone, especially Jerry, discover the importance of relationships. The message is clear, the journey from brokenness to wholeness comes through restored relationships.
It can't be emphasized enough, short-term has drifted from it's foundational purposes. Perhaps you have not been acutely aware but others have. When we were receiving teams we provided an orientation to help teams reorient their expectations.
Rethinking short-term missions
"With so many clients we had forgotten what was important..."
The restoration of all things. That's God's work. He uses His people to love and serve and by loving and serving the Kingdom of Christ advances.
Curt Moore is the ShortTerm Missions Specialist for MNA ShortTerm and