Ariah’s good point…

“Missions Cruise an Oxymoron?”

“…It’s also disappointing to see all the musician’s and speakers willing to join in this disgusting display of privilege. Starting at $695 per person, I wonder if anyone is going to be raising support for this mission trip from their church.”

Rest of Ariah’s post here.

Thoughts from a big fan of the concept here.

The “Vision” of Praisefest Ministries for this idea:

Vision

The vision of PraiseFest Ministries is quite extensive. It all revolves around reaching people for Christ. We seek to bring Christians of all denominations, races, and various backgrounds with one purpose. That is to reach people for Christ. We plan to do this through outreach crusades all over the United States and abroad and through efforts like the Cruise with a Cause. This may even involve multiple mission cruises at some point.

We would like to be able to host 10 crusades per year plus the Mission Cruise. That would be one crusade per month, excluding December and the month of the cruise. To do this, we would need to operate by raising at least $2 million dollars per year. This would enable us to offer a mission cruise at reasonable prices and then to take 10 two night crusades to areas all over the United States . We actually go into a community and invest a minimum of $100,000 into a two night crusade outreach effort. For information, please click PRAISEFEST CRUSADES. It seems like a lot, but we are believing God for this. Again, all money donated goes straight to reaching people for Christ.”

My thoughts.

I have a major problem with this statement: “More than 1700 people saved through the efforts of the inaugural cruise with a cause.” And this one “Thousands of people saw God face-to-face as a result from the mission opportunity they provided. Many souls were won for Christ and those who already were part of the family of God grew closer to the Maker during the week.”

Why? One, for the reason Ariah mentions in his post. You’re paying $695 dollars to listen to Josh McDowell, Kutless, hand out some flyers about Jesus, and give toys to people that come to listen to a crusade…and you’re calling that mission!??!! This is a major problem on the scale of Bruce Wilkinson’s Dream for Africa that’s handled well here. One of my housemates was a missionary working with orphans in Swaziland who said Wilkinson’s “Dream” was putrid, culturally insensitive, and had the long-term effect of numbing citizens of Swaziland to Western missionary efforts.

My problem stated quite simply is this: Missions efforts that define their successes by sheer numbers of folks who “come forward” at an event to be “saved” are inadequate and ultimately skewing the message of the gospel. I like that Billy Graham integrated a strong local effort over time to connect those who came forward to “make a decision” with local churches…and this “PraiseFest” organization seems to be doing this in evangelistic efforts in the U.S. But if the gospel is narrowly defined as several verses from Romans and “souls saved” through said message, we are dealing with a terribly inadequate understanding of the gospel.

A simple suggestion for PraiseFest ministries for your whole “Cruise with a Cause” crusade. Link up with a cut-rate airline organization to shuttle your folks down to the Bahamas instead of a coddling cruise down and back. Link up with local Christian organizations working to solve the problems of homelessness and poverty on a grassroots level in the Bahamas, and organize and push seminars for your participants where they get a chance to hear the reality of missions on a daily basis there. Plug your people in with what these missions are doing. And maybe throw a concert or ten where you share what you see Christ doing in the world and celebrate. Do this for ten years. Gain the trust of the populace. And once you’ve gained their trust, work to spread the message of Christ through the local contacts who are there…listening to their input on what is most effective over the long-haul for the spread of the gospel in the Bahamas and trusting their judgment.

(Ex. of a lack of cultural sensitivity from the website: “My group was given the assignment of canvassing the lower income areas of Grand Island. We walked from house to house, inviting residents to the crusade, passing out flyers, and telling them about Jesus. Each Bahamian met us with a smile and a few even sang songs for us. We talked about where we were from and why we were there, all while being received with an incredible spirit of hospitality.”)

And keep this in mind:
The presentation of the gospel will deeply affect the concept of what means to be a Christian more than you will ever know.

Now think: how does a $700 cruise, listening to Sting, handing out flyers and talking about Jesus without taking time to understand what makes Bahamians tick, and pushing for “decisions” at a concert affect the concept of missions you build in the heads of those who participate?

This “missions” effort is typical these days of the perpetuation of the separation of the importance of the “soul” from the daily physical existence of humanity.

It is INCOHERENT (in my flawed opinion) to try to separate one’s soul from their embodied existence today. This ridiculous emphasis on “souls” comes almost directly from the apocalyptic evangelistic message of D.L. Moody, who said,

“I look on this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat, and said to me, “Moody, save all you can.” God will come in judgment and burn up this world, but the children of God don’t belong to this world; they are in it but not of it, like a ship on the water. This world is getting darker and darker; its ruin is getting nearer and nearer. If you have any friends on this wreck unsaved, you had better lose no time in getting them off.”

Essentially what Moody is doing is giving a giant “F you” to the world and making sure people are “saved” from this darkening, nasty, sinful world. So let’s all sit on our hands after we’re saved, because there’s no use in the gospel affecting anything else in this sinking ship. Let’s all wait for the sweet by and by.

Dead. Freaking. Wrong. Moody. Deal with all of what Jesus says.

Rant. Over.

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