The Mission In Our Own Backyard

The very last thing Jesus said before he ascended into heaven was this, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). I think too often we get so focused on the ends of the earth that we don’t give much thought to all the space between here and there.

We were talking about the mission of the church in our Sunday morning Bible class yesterday. Someone mentioned a relative who had done a mission trip in their own hometown. That really got me thinking about how we think about mission work. The traditional model of short term missions is to spend a week or two in another country. You raise support to cover costs and then you go. After a short amount of time you return home where life typically settles back in to the normal routine.

Now, back to the mission in our own backyard. What if we raised money (or even spent our own money😉 helping people in our neighborhood or city? In September our congregation is going to paint some homes in our community. If this is actually a mission, which it is, why not raise support to get as many needs met as possible? We do it overseas, why not do it in our communities and let our lights shine with those who live nearby and that we can continue to reach out to months and years later? Why do we disconnect missions overseas and our mission in our own backyard? Why do we raise support for one but not the other? Why are we willing to personally sacrifice our time, talents and resources for people halfway around the globe but not for people at home? How much more effective would we be at reaching non-Christians if our perspective on this changed and we really started investing in those around us?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

4 Responses to The Mission In Our Own Backyard

  1. Jerry Starling says:

    In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Our witnessing needs to begin at home before going to the end of the earth.

    Jerry

  2. cordobatim says:

    When we look for life-changing experiences for our teenagers, surely this is a great place to start. The whole subject of short-term foreign missions is a complicated one, yet is often treated like planning a teen trip to the beach. Many of the goals of our “mission” trips could be met locally, at much less expense than overseas trips.

    I’m all for foreign missions, but am far less supportive of church short-term mission trips to other countries.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

    • mattdabbs says:

      I am thankful there are Christians in the world who would never have had the chance had it not been for a short term mission. On the other hand I have a feeling there would be even more success if we didn’t look over people in the process. I think this is a mindset issue. What does it say about us if we are trying to reach people somewhere else if we don’t even consider or want to consider reaching people we actually know?

      • cordobatim says:

        Matt,

        I try not to be too hard on short-term missions… especially when my wife and daughter are on one right now! But I’ve seen too many churches take money away from long-term works and use it to fund short-term works. I think that much of what is sought in the short-term mission experience could be achieved by what you’re describing, allowing funds to be restored to long-term projects.

        Grace and peace,
        Tim Archer

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