My Dirty Little Ministry Secret

…until now.

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!


13 thoughts on “My Dirty Little Ministry Secret

  1. Kelly says:

    Well, you *would* have gone on that mission trip. Does that count? Does it count if I went as your proxy? 😉

  2. Erica says:

    No CPE? Somehow I wiggled out of that one. It wasn’t required by the denomination I was ordained in. And then the PCUSA people kind of turned a blind eye when they accepted me into membership.

    Funny enough though, one of my mentors later said, “It might not be so bad that you missed that…I think it’s become really hit or miss in terms of quality.”

  3. Roy says:

    Should I count this as your registration? Make this your 2011 goal. My original experience with St. Joseph’s Family in 2004 is one reason I am hooked on Haiti.

  4. Jules says:

    I’ve never really been on one, either. My kids have been on international mission trips, but I have not. I went on a class trip to China, but it was not mission-focused.

  5. Cathy says:

    Let’s go on a trip…i am with you. Although, not so sure about Haiti. But, Guatamala did change my life.
    And, China opened my eyes to much more than my adorable baby when we did the “village” tour. Not sure if i would have noticed before Guat though.

    BUT, i would disagree that Houston’s inner missions don’t “count” as mission trips. I think it counts if a ski trip is NOT part of the tour:)

  6. juniper says:

    Didnt study Greek. Or Hebrew.

  7. RevJen says:

    I didn’t do CPE and I never took a preaching class.

    I’d been teaching Freshman Comp at a university for three years before seminary and it seemed like the preaching class everyone was taking was teaching everything I taught in Freshman Comp. So far, it hasn’t seemed to hurt me.

  8. RevJen says:

    Oh .. no Greek or Hebrew either, but it wasn’t required.

  9. marciglass says:

    I didn’t do CPE either.

  10. Sarah KG says:

    I haven’t been on a mission trip since I was 21! Not once have I gone as a professional or leader.

  11. Andy Acton says:

    wow, I would’ve never guessed that you hadn’t been on a mission trip. I hope your first experience is awesome. I never did do CPE 🙂

  12. Sarah says:

    Did CPE. Have chaperoned youth trips to Montreat, led confirmation…but no church mission trips per se fo me. BUT – growing up did many many local service projects – thru school and Scouts, some thru church – and several lasted for quite a while. Built relationships. Did reflections of a sort with other adults/peers involved.Lots of mentoring/connecting, talking about why we “serve the greater good” (to paraphrase a recent post I think you wrote)

    For me – those experiences have served as bridges to mission trips.

  13. Janie Wilkerson says:

    Hi, MaryAnn-
    My niece told me about your blog and I have been really enjoying reading it!
    Anyway, the same day you posted this I read something on Mark Oestericher’s blog and thought you might be interested:
    Thanks for all you do!

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