Baby and Bath Water?

Kara Powell | May 27, 2010

Last week Fuller was a host of a gathering of scholars and practitioners on the topic of North American Mission Work. Robert Priest from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was one of the professors. I have great respect for Robert and enjoyed having lunch with him while he was here in Pasadena. His research, among others’, was what prompted our own research that led to our book that has been used by countless youth ministries, Deep Justice Journeys.

The folks who attended Bob’s lecture were folks who had been studying missions, and practicing cross-cultural mission work, for much of their lives. Gathering from the tone of the questions after Bob’s lecture, in which some of the weaknesses of short-term missions were presented (i.e., they don’t manifest the long-term change in participants’ attitudes and behaviors that we would hope for or assume), a few folks seemed willing to simply abandon short-term missions. To throw the baby out with the bath water.

I appreciated Bob’s answer to a few of these questions: “Mission work, as it is currently practiced, has not yielded the results we would hope for.” In other words, Bob was acknowledging the problems but fighting to revise how we do mission work instead of merely to jettison it.

As you get ready for your short-term mission work, what are you doing ahead of time to prepare your kids? What structures do you already have in place to help them debrief and connect the dots once they return home to their second period History class or to life at home? The subtitle of Deep Justice Journeys captures our hope for the book, and I know your hope for your own mission work: moving from mission trips to missional living.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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