Dr. Priest in the Wall Street Journal

Dr. Robert PriestTrinity professor Robert Priest is referenced in the latest Wall Street Journal Houses of Worship column, “How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire.” Author Brad Greenberg writes about the decline in missions—or rather the decline in missions that include evangelization. “The overwhelming majority of American missionaries today are ‘vacationaries.’ Joining mission trips of two weeks or less, they serve in locales where Christianity already predominates,” Greenberg writes. “The purpose, then, of their visit is to battle the ills of poverty and to stretch their own spirituality.”

Greenberg then refers to studies by Priest in which he finds, “82% of short-term missions today go to countries in the most-Christian third of the world. Only 2% land in the Middle East.”

In other words, short term mission trips are not about the people being visited but the visitors. The trend toward providing physical care without spiritual care attached to it is also a part of longer term missions work. “Christians today typically travel abroad to serve others, but not necessarily to spread the gospel.”

An extensive discussion of this issue between Trinity’s Robert Priest and Calvin College professor Kurt Ver Beek is available at Christianity Today. In the discussion, Priest warns about the effect that funding short term missions (STM) can have on career missionaries. Using the justification that a mission trip will benefit others, it can be simply an excuse to fund a youth outing.

A case could be made that many American congregations and youth ministry programs have discovered a way to fund programs that benefit their own congregations’ memberships much more consistently than those they ostensibly serve (while in the process making the challenge of funding the career missionary enterprise more difficult). It raises uncomfortable questions about whose interests are truly being served when the rhetoric justifying the funding of STM stresses results in the lives of those being served, while virtually all research by STM leaders has focused on the benefits to the short-term missionaries and their congregations.

These are tough questions of course, ones that the Trinity community is seeking to engage.

Read the entire WSJ story, “How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire.” →

Trinity Alum Seeking Immigration Reform with the NAE

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is running a full-page ad in the Washington, D.C. newspaper Roll Call on Thursday, May 12, 2010 to rally support for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States.  Galen Carey (BA ’76, MDiv ’80), director of government affairs for the NAE was interviewed by Yahoo! News about the initiative.

The association, which includes members from 40 evangelical denominations, reached consensus on the issue of immigration reform in 2009 — almost two years after President George W. Bush’s failed attempts to reform immigration — by focusing on the biblical material that supports immigration. (The group took no official stand on the issue during the last congressional debate.) The group’s 2009 resolution on immigration includes several paragraphs citing scriptural authority:

“Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the families of his sons turned to Egypt in search of food,” it says. “Joseph, Naomi, Ruth, Daniel and his friends, Ezekiel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther all lived in foreign lands. In the New Testament, Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus to escape Herod’s anger and became refugees in Egypt.”

Read the whole story on Yahoo! News →