I’ll go, if it fits my schedule and I can afford it.
That tends to be the response I’m given when we start in the planning process of a mission trip. That sounds like very good advice/planning, if you are planning a vacation. Not so much when considering the missio dei. There is a difference between a vacation and a mission trip
At the heart of a vacation is rest and enjoyment. That is what I think about when I think about a vacation, “Man, I need some time off, I need to just get away and not think about x or y, and have some fun”. Let me just say this is something I truly love and think is important for every person to do from time to time. Spend some time on vacation with your family, get away from work and do something you really enjoy, it is good for the body and the mind. But this is not how a mission trip works. At the heart of a mission trip is the Gospel. The Gospel is uncomfortable and certainly isn’t easy. The Gospel has requirements: life long requirements that are not simply pit stops along the way, or temporary and fleeting experiences. The Gospel is demanding of the most precious thing we have, namely our very lives
One criteria for vacation is: is this a time that works for me? In other words, does it occur at some low activity point in my schedule? Are there other important things going on that I would rather do instead? So many choices to be made. I can just move my vacation to a convenient time. Mission trips are not about convenience in scheduling, they are about sacrificing time. If we understand that the very eternity of people depends on them actually hearing the Gospel, we will understand that might not always coincide with our schedule. We might actually have to rearrange the other things in our lives around the missio dei.
A second criteria that is oh so important for vacation is finances. In fact, this is the most important criteria: the check book. Is there enough money in the budget for us to go to the beach this year? We usually start looking at this part early, because we realize in order to do what we want, we’ll have to make SACRIFICES. In order to go on this vacation, our family might have to sacrifice going to the movies like we usually do, or eating out. Maybe I can skip getting a new suit this year or new tires on the car for a few more months, in order to help pay the cost. But, because this is important to me and my family, I’ll do what it takes, even if I have to sell something out of my gun-safe (gasp) or put something on eBay.
But mission trips? The church should pay for that on my behalf. Wait, what? That is a common thought today, how can the church pay the way for everyone to go on a mission trip? Now, before you mumble under your breathe at me, think about the following:
Vacations should require sacrifices, mission trips should be easy.
There is a mix up in priorities. Nowhere does Scripture inform me that either is the case. In fact, as a Christ follower I should be willing to go when sent, and pay any cost. Those are right priorities.
DIsclaimer: I am not writing against fund raising. What I am against is asking someone else to pay for me, what I can pay for myself even if I have to sacrifice, and plan it when it best suits me to go.
When going on a mission trip the two good criteria are:
1- Is God calling me to go?
2- Can I trust Him to send me?