Mission Tourism Season Begins

Mission tourism continues to boom even in times of economic crisis. Almost daily I receive emails or hear appeals from individuals, churches, and schools that are preparing for summer “missions trips” to send summer “missionaries” to far flung places to minister to those to whom they cannot speak without an interpreter, to build relationships with those they will never see again, and to do for others what they often can or should do for themselves. What seems to be most important is the experience of the mission tourist. What seems to be missing is asking about outcomes for the recipients of mission trips and whether the hosts were confirmed more deeply in their dependence on naively generous Americans.


Attaching “missions” to almost any word is the key. Leave the USA to go overseas and do almost anything as a Christian and behold you have missions even if there is never any contact with unbelievers with the gospel. Or do a home missions project that has no contact with lost people. Call me cynical but I don’t understand mission projects that primarily benefit the local church (i.e., no sending involved), when mission teams build houses, paint churches and schools while local church members watch, or when individuals participate in seminars geared entirely to Christians and send out appeals for funds to support their “mission trip.”


I’m not saying that these endeavors shouldn’t take place or are not worthy investments. I am questioning whether they should be called missions. It might be too much to call for a moratorium on mission tourism and the business it has become. It would be too much to say that no good is accomplished by these trips, that no lives are touched.  It is not too much to ask for more precision when speaking of “missions” and for expecting the gospel at the forefront. No gospel = no mission.

One Response to “Mission Tourism Season Begins”

  1. Helpful thoughts, thanks!

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