when missions hurt the local church

a friend of mine who i have mad respect for asked the following question tonight:

how do you think kids see their church after one week of playing, eating candies, doing crafts and receiving gifts from americans in a VBS…???

my friend is nicaraguan and he works with a ton of CHRISTians from the united states who want to see GOD do great things in nicaragua. his point is that there “has to be an alternative way to spread the message and help the people without harming local churches.” my friend believes in missions. i know this because i have had the privilege of working along side him for a decade in diriamba. i’ve seen how much he cares and i have learned a great deal from him.

i believe we are supposed to be a part of spreading the joy of CHRIST throughout the world. we need to be involved in sharing the good news of the kingdom of GOD in other countries. we just HAVE to make sure that we do this in a manner that helps the local church rather than hurting it.

6 Replies to “when missions hurt the local church”

  1. well, I was trying to edit and accidentally hit "enter" by accident. I read your friend's comment (hello friend of P&RT, not meaning to speak of you in the 3rd person, but we're not acquainted on facebook, so I couldn't comment directly.) Anyway, re: separating humanitarian aid from church things: that's an interesting thought; yet it's tough to swallow in one way, b/c we tend to view them as inseparable. We read the book of James, for instance, and don't want to be guilty of offering to pray without giving real help. We read about how one would sell his field and give the proceeds to the church to be used for the poor. Often times, (right or wrong) we view things like this as p.r. for God — to communicate that he cares about people and their needs. I've even heard someone say that Jesus would often heal a physical need and then deal with the spiritual need, and that maybe that was a model for how we reach out to others. I'm not saying this to argue; because again, your friend raised a really good point and he lives there, so he knows all too well. I'm just thinking out loud and wondering where to adjust.And really, we deal with this in the U.S. to a certain degree, too. We've had people come to church, go through the motions of being "saved" in front of us, hoping it will mean that we will give them more financial help. We're constantly trying to keep up with the new and modern, believing and even finding in some cases that people will go elsewhere if we don't. I could go on, but I've probably blathered enough. Anyway, I'm glad the topic was brought up. Lots of food for thought!

  2. I've seen that discussion and have been watching it with interest — a very thought provoking question. We talked about similar things when I trained with LWI — How missions teams and secular medical groups will come through and pass out little toothbrushes and toothpastes, and then what happens when the toothpaste runs out? Also, people are being conditioned to think that all they need is a pill to fix whatever is wrong with them; and as a result, the life-saving teachings about health habits and hydration are harder to communicate.When we go to other countries, we need to think about what is sustainable long-term; and we need to visit with and really listen to the local leaders, b/c their expertise is invaluable. Really and truly, a mission trip should be more about strengthening and equipping those who are there long term. I read his comment about separating the humanitarian aid from the church. That was very interesting. In LWI's case, they teach how to brush your teeth with a dry toothbrush and also with a stick — that does more to improve oral health than short-term toothpaste supplies. (A little off topic, but children who do not have regular dental care should never be given candy anyway, b/c it's a guaranteed cavity.) Anyway,

  3. I’m jumping up and down, nodding my head and screaming FINALLY!!!

    I’m not sure there is a completely satisfying answer to the question but 10 years ago this very issue made me (and our church) quit doing missions they way we had always done it.

    I don’t want to take up all of your comment section, Robert…can I quote/use/steal this post on my website with a long response?

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