Someone asked me a couple of years ago why we send people on mission trips. Fair enough, and what follows is an attempt to address it to a point.
As baptized people, we are all ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, it is difficult to switch cultural gears and do the work of the gospel. We live in a success-oriented culture and a success-driven society. The gospel, however, calls us to care primarily for the last, the lost, and the least. As I look back on how I spend most of my time in the ministry, I notice that I spend time mostly with people in trouble of one sort or another—people in the hospital, people with family problems, people with personal problems, people who want to know how to face death or failure or doubt or skepticism as a Christian might.
Our church spends its time similarly. We train Stephen Ministers to help people in personal crisis of one kind or another. We visit those who are essentially homebound and our ministry of prayer rarely focuses upon successful and winning personalities. Instead we concentrate our intercessory prayers on people with cancer or relational problems with spouses or children and the like. Even our Bible study, Walk to Emmaus, Kairos, Arlington Reads, mentoring at Webb Elementary—which is named for a late, fine church member—John Webb—and other uplifting types of programs spiritually help us to help others who are in need. We spend a lot of time with those on the margins of life. We care as a church about the elderly and the infants and toddlers. Why?—because this is the baptismal command of Jesus to believers.
It is for these reasons and others that when someone asks me why we send people on mission trips, I could just say it is our baptismal job.