The world is more accessible to us than ever before
Huge numbers of Christians are travelling overseas on short-term missions (STM) trips, offering their:
to share the gospel and improve the lives of:
The potential for impact is huge, AS VOLUNTEERS:
but the space between the good intentions of teams and volunteers, and the actual outcomes for local communities, is filled with complexity that we need God's wisdom to navigate.
the potential for unintended harm is real
If we don't consider these complexities, there is a real risk that our good intentions won't translate into good outcomes. We could inadvertently:
We may not even realise that harm's been done.
It's time to reframe the conversation
We need to bring the perspectives of local people into the mix, in order to:
We have a responsibility to do everything in our power to bring forth the true gospel.
Introducing an ethical framework to Short-term missions
The Bible has much to say about ethics and much wisdom to be applied to ensuring short-term missions is ethical.
Whether you represent:
this website will help you consider how to approach STM and volunteering from an ethical perspective. It outlines:
Grace and Truth
A message to the reader
In Christ, and in the gospel, there is an integral connection between grace and truth.
When it comes to truth, there are two versions: God's and the world's. God's truth is absolute. It's firm, constant and unshakeable; it's based on God's nature and always points to His righteousness and justice. It sets the standards for all areas of our lives. Relative truth – which is the world's version of truth – tells us that truth is ours to determine. It's based on what we feel is right in any given situation or moment in time. It isn't fixed and it bends to endorse our human desires. Relative truth is a slippery slope that can lead to selfishness, deception, injustice and harm.
In Jesus, we see God's absolute truth and standards embodied. However, the Bible tells us that along with truth, Christ ushered in grace. This is an important coupling, as while truth sets the standards, grace makes a way for us in light of our humanity. Grace is the forgiveness that covers our shortcomings. It removes all condemnation so we can try again when we've fallen short or failed. Grace through Jesus is what ultimately makes a way for us to be saved.
The truth and grace nexus is as important to general living as it is to salvation; especially because truth is not always easy to hear. When truth is spoken, it must be seasoned with grace. It must draw attention to the standards without wielding condemnation as a weapon. and it must ultimately bring hope.
There are some tough truths when it comes to short-term missions and you'll find some of these in the pages of this website. It would perhaps be more palatable to apply 'relative truth' to short-term missions and endorse whatever makes us feel good; it would certainly be less confrontational. But we've witnessed the lost potential and seen the harm that's been caused when we take this approach. As a result, we've chosen absolute truth. It's our hope that it will be equally abounding in encouragement and hope.
We've designed this website to engage the Christian community in a conversation about good and right short-term missions standards, without casting judgement for what's been and done. It's our attempt to create a platform where we can speak truth, encourage honest reflection and share lessons learnt. We ultimately want to foster good practice in short-term missions so the good news can be heard loud and clear. It's not our intention to discourage participation in short-term missions. Quite the opposite; it's our heart to equip and encourage all who engage to engage well.
We trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us all, as a Christian community, to discover the most God-honouring and others-serving expressions of short-term missions.