The Un-Mission Trip: Get More Kingdom Bang for your Fundraising Buck

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Guest post by Rick Bundschuh, Kauai Christian Fellowship, Kauai, Hawaii

Editor’s Note: This article appears in the YLO94 Resource Book featuring articles on the theme of Missions and Service. You can preview more of the book and the music in YLO94 here.

Let me assure you that taking students to third-world countries for exposure to missions is a very valuable idea on several levels.

The trips get them fired up about missions in general, and make them very appreciative (at least for awhile) of all the things they take for granted at home. A mission project infuses the kids with a sense of responsibility for the poor that they will never shake and often brings a wonder sense of purposefulness and comradeship.

There are lots and lots of great reasons for going on mission trips — which is why I take a group of kids to Tijuana every year.

But seldom — very, very, seldom — are mission trips truly effective in reaching those in far off lands for Christ. Yes, by our presence and efforts we may be supporting a ministry that is active in evangelism, but let’s get really honest with each other here; mission trips usually do far more good (in the short run) for our kids than they do for those in foreign countries we visit for a week or two.

Oh, I know that sometimes, after the skit or presentation (if you do that kind of thing), lots of hands went up or people came forward. But, most of the time we have no idea if the locals are just being nice to the Yankee kids, or if they have a culture that responds in this way to every invitation. (No, I am not denying that God can move, but as one who has lots of friends in foreign missions who host youth groups, lets just say I am aware that all is not always as it seems.)

And then, there is the money.

Usually, thousands of dollars per student are spent to go to a place — where the money spent by our youth group to get to this place could feed and fuel the economy of an entire village for a year.

Most of us are aware of the huge discrepancy between wages in poor countries and the USA. Many of us have, sitting in the midst of poverty, felt acute embarrassment at our own over-the-top wealth and careless spending habits when just a few less luxuries at home could put the village kid we were playing soccer with through school.

So here is an idea: this year, don’t go. Don’t have a mission trip at all; have an Un-mission Trip.

Do your fundraisers, get the bucks together, make a goal that is exactly the same as if your crew were jumping on a plane or doing the road trip to Mexico on the bus. And then send all the money to the mission that you were going to work with. The money can be used to hire a local evangelist, to feed a family, to buy Bibles, to pay bills, to send a hardworking local missionary couple on a surprise weekend trip to the big city and their first-ever stay in a hotel with some spending money in their pocket. Or, bring someone from the mission you visited last year to your town. Help them get their visitor visas, buy them Wal-Mart or even Macy’s gift cards and let them go nuts. Give them the vacation of their lifetime. Let them try to minister to your church this year.

True, some kids will not be motivated by this idea. (You may have better luck with kids who have already had their eyes opened in prior mission trips) Some are only willing to work hard if they benefit from it. But it won’t take much in the way of math or graphs to make the case that perhaps this year, unlike other years, the goal of your mission efforts is to get as much Kingdom bang for the buck; and that by staying home, working hard, and sending the cash (okay, okay, pick one kid who worked super hard and send him or her down with a staff person to present the gift), the good things that can be done are multiplied.

And we all can still have fun working toward that purpose.

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4 Responses to The Un-Mission Trip: Get More Kingdom Bang for your Fundraising Buck

  1. JoAnne Betz Esq. says:

    Dear Rick: Thanks for a thought provoking blog. I have often wondered about why God had me “blow” hundreds of dollars per kid for my teen’s mission trips when the host’s could use those dollars more efficiently. (& I’ve also donated hundreds to my friend’s kids’ mission trips.) But I am now seeing the “fruit” of those Mission trips. My children who went on trips have become mature adults ages 28-20 and the “investment” of $1,000/mission trip for me, has “netted” my children offering yearly tithes to missions of 10 times that amount…and in the future will amount to 100 times my investment in the original trip.

    I consider my initial investment the “seed money” that God needed to “prime the pump” of my child’s heart, to open their pocketbook for a habit of lifelong tithing. Their tithes that will be directly related to what their 5 senses embedded in their brains on those mission trips. When they eat a banana from Mexico, smell rotting garbage, see pictures substandard housing, etc. they will want to give money to help alleviate suffering that they saw first hand on their own mission trip.

    My children, God willing, will be normal American wage earners with a lifetime average income of $40,000-$50,000/year for an average working lifetime of 40 years. So if you do the math. My $1,000 one time investment in a mission trip for one teenager, will yield into God’s Kingdom $160,000 of Mission tithes from a “one time mission trip kid”. I have 4 kids of my own so, my piddly investment of $4,000 on mission trips will yield $640,000 in money to missions worldwide over the next 40 years. (throwing in the other teens I have sponsored on mission trips & discounting for “reluctant” tithers & adding in God’s creative way of increasing money exponentially; I think my investment will yield $1Million EASY/40 YEARS! Less risk than the stock market too!)

    The idea for an “un-mission trip” is a great for 2nd timers, but think of First Time Mission Trip kids like fledgeling Entrepreneurs on “Shark Tank”. As a Shark when I invest in that kid’s First mission trip, my seed money will reap profits for God INC. Like the Sharks on Shark Tank I am betting my investment will reap long term benefit for me too… Someday, I hope to hear God say, “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant(Shark JoAnne), enter into the joy(Corporate Headquarters=Heaven) of your Master(CEO of God Inc.)”

  2. Renee Kelly says:

    We can never know how the Holy Spirit may be working in the lives of those we serve. But the relationships and time serving are priceless. We are responding to the call to serve from Jesus Christ HIM SELF! The rest is up to the Holy Spirit!! Its easy to send a check much more difficult to do the work your self, which requires dependence on GOD!

  3. David Schofield says:

    “My children, God willing, will be normal American wage earners with a lifetime average income of $40,000-$50,000/year for an average working lifetime of 40 years. ”

    What a tragedy.
    I pray my three children, the kids in my youth group, and yours too!–God willing, will be willing to follow Him wherever He leads. If it’s here in the USA owning a business or working at a job… or in missions- going back to my wife’s birth country of Mexico…, or to India, to Iran, to China, Appalachia, Canada, North Korea, wherever… City or jungle, in plenty or in want, to serve King Jesus with all their talents, gifts and heart.
    Missions depends on God. When Jesus sent out the 72 it was without anything. And God does use the financial resources of His church to accomplish much of His work here on earth.
    I’m an entrepreneur, an accomplished Systems Engineer, a real-time software specialist. I can (and have) made hundred’s of dollars an hour. But in the past 10 years God’s reduced me like Job, so that I can never pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” without feeling the hunger and thanksgiving that involves. I had to cut lawns and shovel walks just to put rice and beans on the table. And it helped me see how much I’ve been deceived, how much the culture has invaded the American church and my heart.

    This may sound harsh, please don’t take it that way; and I’m sure you’re a good christian, but I pray we all learn to do the math differently. And whatever our kids do, that they’ll do it all for the LORD.

  4. Eric Gargus says:

    Brilliant article, Rick! I truly appreciate your way of thinking. Those thousands of dollars can be used for greater impact by placing the money in the hands that need it most for the Kingdom. A combo of going sometimes and sending money others might just be a GREAT recipe for missions AND good stewardship.

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