Friday, August 10, 2007

Disneyfication Of Missions

The other day I read a post from a pastor who just returned from a two-week youth camp in Eastern Europe. He concluded his cheery post by saying, “Ain’t serving God fun!”

Fun? I read the post while sitting in my sweltering three-room (that’s rooms, not bedrooms) apartment in Delhi. With the daytime temperature at 95 with a heat index of 120, fun wasn’t exactly what I was experiencing. It may be fun to do a 10 day sortie serving others on the mission field, but it’s an entirely different matter when you know your return airplane ticket is still another two years away.

This pastor’s post came on the heels of a note from a friend in Cambodia. His subject line heading was “Home Because of Burnout.” After being on the field for over three years, struggling with learning a difficult language, living in a steamy climate, eating rice everyday and facing a resistant population, Lee and Pat were not having fun. Culture stress usually gets all those who spend more that a fortnight away from the comforts of home. Being around people of a different culture everyday loses its giggles in a hurry.

The trend for many years in the American church has been to make the church experience fun. The songs we sing, the games we have to entertin our children and youth all point to the Disneyfication of the church. This trend is an attempt to make church appealing, exciting, not boring. There is nothing more tedious than being in a service that drone’s on. In our desire to draw people into our services we are trying to convey a message that being a Christian is a hoot. Finding a balance between worship and whooping it up for Jesus seems to be a challenge.

Though life overseas isn’t always rainbows and daisies, it is rewarding. What keeps most cross-cultural workers going is knowing that maybe God will use us in His grand scheme of redemption. Fun is not why we do what we do and it’s a good thing, because life overseas ain’t always a barrel full of monkeys.