12.16.2011

The whole can of worms, at a glance.

In case you just got the internet...

I wrote a series on short-term missions - no, wait - poverty tourism? volunteer voyeurism?...Gah! What are we calling it?!...Okay, call it whatever you want. But it was a series, totaling five whole posts, and it took me SIX MONTHS to complete. Yeah, you read that right. This is how grown-ups with aggressive, terminal, metastatic A.D.D. get things done. It's practically a miracle that I ever even wrote a second post, but to finish all six? Somebody give me a medal.

For convenience sake (and for the 11 people who are still interested), here's the whole shebang from start to finish:

~ "Are we calling this a win-win?"  - The one that started it all. A satirical look at the interaction between do-gooders and do-goodees. Fun stuff, right there. (Pissed a lot of people off.)

And that led to these: 

 ~ "Sorry, poor people, it's not about you" - Where I respond to the commonly shared sentiment that the purpose of a short-term mission is to change the 'heart/life/perspective/values' of the people going and isn’t really about the ones being served. 

~ "Mmm... No, it's not "all good."  - Where some gentle people suggest that if any good comes from sending short-term teams into the world, then it's all worth it, and I get a liiiittle ballsy and maybe compare short-term missions to the crusades. Sorry. 

~ "Using your poor kid to teach my rich kid a lesson" - In which I respond to the idea that the church is sending folks into poor communities as a good way to teach people to be grateful for all their crap. 

~ "No more of this." - A response to everyone who suggested that even if we were doing really awful things through short-term missions, God's grace would cover over it all, so no worries. 

If you're interested in reading more on this subject, check out these articles:

Quality resources:

And even a funny video:

And with that, it's time to turn this bus around and start talking about the role of healthy, productive short-term teams in the world, because a lot of people have seen (or even been part of the problems) and are ready to look for solutions. I'll start a new series on GOOD STMs soon... like, hopefully sometime in 2012 (thanks, A.D.D.!) . And I'm looking to arm myself with as much info as possible as we carry this conversation into new territory.

So leave me your links. If you've written or read an interesting article on the subject, if you've seen a great book, video clip, or online article referring to this messy, but important topic, let's have it -  leave us
a link in comments. Then let's take this conversation offline, and into our missions pastor's office and our
small group leader's sofa - let's initiate positive change where it's needed. 

I know, I know. Nobody wants to talk about poor people at Christmastime. I'd probably be smarter to post this in the new year... but, well, here it is