But all of that is water under the bridge.
I'm dipping a cautious toe in the water to write about Christian missions trips: are they relevant, are they needed, are they fruitful. I haven't written much about Hamilton Congregational lately, but this is the time of year that churches around the country are planning their annual missions trips, and with last year's FCCH Guatemala missions trip in mind, I think it is appropriate to raise these questions. I do not question the heart and compassion of churches, or anyone who has participated in a youth mission trip. The biblical imperative to support missions and raise up missionaries is unquestionable.
But only a small number of individuals who participate in a missions trip eventually become missionaries; a much larger number have no serious plans to become missionaries. And most missionaries, while they welcome the support and encouragement from local churches, will candidly admit that such trips often detract from their work. Safety concerns factor into any decision to send youth volunteers on a missions trip. Many churches treat missions trips as something of a Christian spring break or career day; however, they are neither, and many destinations are not safe.
Often compounding this problem, as was the case with Hamilton Congregational last July, is the fact that one organization raises money and sends workers while another organization handles the logistics and coordinates the event. Lastly, there is the common argument that money spent on the trips would be better spent on the missionaries themselves. Numerous studies have shown that missions trips to not result in increased giving to missions afterwards.
I don't doubt that missions trips provide positive, lasting memories for the teens and young adults who participate in them. One or two of them may even become missionaries. Some will give regularly to missionaries, but they would have anyway. Many trips are to regions of the world where crime is rampant. Perhaps a wiser approach would be for churches to choose two or three individuals who have expressed a serious desire to become missionaries and send them instead of a larger group of youths.