Podcast Episode Ten: Ethics of Christian Mission

In the tenth episode of the Symposium Ethics Podcast we speak with Dr. Melissa Browning, Assistant Professor of Contextual Ministry at McAfee School of Theology in Atlanta, GA about her ethics of Christian mission.

Since it’s advent in the 1960s, the short-term mission trip has become a staple of American Christianity. Today, over 2 million Americans annually engage in short term missions, defined in the context of American Christianity as a planned ministry excursion or cultural immersion by a group of Christians, in a culture or place foreign to them, either abroad or within the U.S., for a short period of time, that can extend from one week all the way up to 1 or 2 years. There is an abundance of literature evaluating the efficacy of such trips. Most people see the potential benefits of STMs, but recognize that too many trips are poorly planned and potentially cause damage to the communities being served and have a nominal impact on the ones serving. In the podcast, Dr. Browning discusses in detail the benefits, liabilities, and limitations of short-term mission trips, helping us develop an ethics of Christian mission to reduce the chance that we will do harm to the foreign communities we seek to serve.

Right click to download episode ten.

Dr. Melissa Browning on the Need for Reciprocity in Christian Mission

The difference between a good mission trip and a bad mission trip is whether or not there is the opportunity for reciprocity… Are you making sure the people you bring are open to learn and receive? … It is the difference between trying to be a neighbor and trying to be a life saver.

Show Notes

  1. Visit the faculty page of Dr. Melissa Browning as well as her professional website.
  2. Dr. Browning partnered with Refuge and Hope International to bring seminary students to East Africa. Refuge and Hope International is a faith-based nonprofit organization that serves the urban refugee community in Kampala, Uganda.
  3. Consider engaging Robert Lupton’s book (briefly referenced in the podcast), Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, and How to Reverse It, for tips on how to avoid doing harm in your short-term mission and immersion trips.
  4. Dr. Browning is an ordained minister in and has done missionary work with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
  5. The intro music is entitled “Without You” and can be found at www.freestockmusic.com. Direct link here.
  6. The outro music is “Crossing the Desert” and can be found at www.freestockmusic.com. Direct link here.

About Jermaine M. McDonald

Dr. Jermaine M. McDonald is co-founder and editor of Symposium Ethics. He completed his PhD in Ethics and Society from Emory University in the Spring of 2015.

Jermaine M. McDonald

Dr. Jermaine M. McDonald is co-founder and editor of Symposium Ethics. He completed his PhD in Ethics and Society at Emory University in the Spring of 2015. Jermaine researches interesting convergences between race, religion, and politics with the aim of analyzing how various groups bring their religious ideas of the common good to bear in U.S. society.

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