Tonight I took the girls and met mom and a church member at Saint Mark Presbyterian for a benefit performance of the Resurrection Dance Theater of Haiti. (Give them some love, and some dollars, please. They are rebuilding their orphanage, and their country, from scratch.) During the “pitch” part of the evening, my friend Roy mentioned that they are organizing a mission trip. I made a mental note because I would really like to find a way to go.
Here is my dirty little ministry secret: I am 38 years old with 10 years of church ministry experience, seven of those years as an ordained pastor… and I have never been on a mission trip. For a minister, that’s like admitting you don’t like potlucks. Mission trips are something that pretty much everyone does, sooner or later. For me it’s later, I guess.
It’s just this weird quirk that comes out of my personal history. Unlike most pastors I know, I wasn’t part of a church in high school and college, which is when a lot of people take these kinds of trips. My second job after college was for an interfaith non-profit organization, so my job was “mission work,” but it was all local.
Then I even worked as a youth director. What kind of youth director doesn’t go on a mission trip? I don’t know, it just wasn’t part of the menu of stuff that our church did, which is a shame. When I started there, we did Montreat Youth Conference and a choir tour. I was organizing a mission trip for the youth when it came time to go to seminary, so I didn’t participate in it firsthand.
In seminary we had alternative context, which was a Jan term class that provided a chance to see the church in action in another context (mine was Mexico). But that’s not mission. Then it was off to BPC as an associate. My head of staff has a well-known passion for mission, and I did spiritual growth, so we divided duties accordingly. She took groups to Kenya, I took folks to Iona. My time at BPC also coincided with bearing and nursing three children, which made even short-term mission impractical. (And for most of my tenure there, the main mission opportunity was a month-long trip to Kenya… let’s just say it’s not something that a lot of parents with young children end up doing.)
So I’m a mission trip virgin. But I would like to change that soon. (We’ll see if Roy reads this blog and will get me turned on to Haiti…)
What’s your dirty little (ministry) secret? I feel better ‘fessing up; maybe you will too!