Getting Serious About Transformative Mission Experiences

Sheryl Kujawa-HolbrookToday’s Mission Monday blog post is by the Rev. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook, VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty at Claremont School of Theology. She serves as professor of practical theology and religious education at Claremont School of Theology, and as professor of Anglican Studies at Bloy House, the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont. Sheryl originally wrote this piece for a mission exchange project initiated several years ago. As we resurrect this important project under the new working title, Episcopal Youth in Mission, her words are as timely as ever. I encourage you to carefully read and process Sheryl’s wisdom before planning your next mission experience.

Mission Mondays

Social Action Projects:
A More Excellent Way

As the summer program season approaches, many congregations and dioceses begin planning social action or “mission” trips with young people. But just how meaningful are these “trips”?

Such learning experiences can build self-esteem and leadership skills, as well as a greater sense of social responsibility. Yet well-intentioned projects far too often fall short of potential benefits, becoming primarily opportunities for travel on the part of the sponsors, and sources of anger or feelings of powerlessness for those visited. Some projects, emphasizing work and the desire to help others, only reinforce the status quo, rather than offering a transformative opportunity for young people to see the world anew.

Social action projects for young people, in order to be transformative experiences, need to both educate young people on how oppression operates in our society, and stress how we, who are part of the dominant culture, participate in that oppression. Rather than patronize the poor and the oppressed, participants need to learn to recognize how God is already at work among those they encounter.

These are just the opening paragraphs of this powerful article. Download the full article, Social Action Projects: More Excellent Wayfor Sheryl’s criteria for congregations and dioceses planning mission experiences for youth.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I now have the ability to share this with others whom I’ve been trying desperately to educate. Our church used to plan one week Short Term trips to a different location every year and our youth would build relationships with those who welcomed us into their community. Our youth were always asked when they were coming back and were saddened when they new the process was to do something new each summer. They had made an emotional investment with the community. We have now begun the relationship building process with the Rosebud Indian Reservation and our youth and adults have already begun to change their thinking as we prepare for the continuation of the relationship that we began last June.

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