PBM Has Bold Plans for the Future!
Many PC(USA) congregations, presbyteries and synods are engaging in mission on the U.S./México border through travel/study and service with our partner denomination, the National Presbyterian Church of México (INPM). Mission trips are self-funded and organized, but each PBM site has mission personnel to help coordinate details. Our mission personnel often accompany delegations to serve as a host, resource and intermediary, educator and mission interpreter, and to help with language translation and cultural sensitivity when needed.
Please remember that Presbyterians do mission in partnership. Hearing the voice of the community is always an important part of any mission experience. Some mission trips will not involve a hands-on work project, but will focus instead on building awareness of border issues, cross-cultural understanding and/or social justice. Service projects should be identified by the partner church or PBM local ministry according to their priorities rather than your group’s priorities. Also, the PC(USA) understands mission to be with others, not doing for others. In most cases on the U.S./México border, PC(USA) delegations visiting PBM sites will interact with partner churches of the INPM. Many trips are collaborative, involving service projects, education and the building of relationships.
Delegations on short-term mission trips to PBM sites:
- learn about the work and witness of local faith communities
- build relationships with Mexican Presbyterians, with other people of faith and with each other
- serve with members of a border community to meet local needs and explore ways of meeting the needs of the visiting church (yes, the needs of your church)
- sometimes team up with Mexican Presbyterians to work together on a service project in another place
- experience another context in which the Christian faith is practiced
- worship with local congregations
- reflect on the mission experience in light of the gospel
Where to go?
Deciding on a mission trip destination is a discernment process. We encourage you to think of the mission trip, not as an end in itself, but as one step in a journey of deeper engagement in the global mission of the church. The questions below will help your group in the discernment process of selecting a destination, but are not a substitute for prayer.
As people of faith, we are called to walk by faith. Mission is never our mission, but God's mission. God graciously invites us to participate in what God is already doing in this world that God so loved. So, prayerfully consider your responses to the questions below, not worrying about money or any other obstacle, being open to God's Spirit.
Consider some of the following questions to identify long-term potential relationships between your church and the Mexican church, through Presbyterian Border Ministry:
- Does your presbytery or synod already have a partnership with a presbytery or synod in the U.S./México border region?
- Do you have a sister congregation on the border?
- Does your congregation receive Mission Connections letters from a particular mission worker serving with PBM on the U.S./México border?
- Does your congregation have members who are former or current PC(USA) mission workers serving on the border with PBM?
- Has your congregation hosted a PC(USA) mission worker from PBM as a speaker?
- Does your congregation fund Presbyterian Border Ministry programs or local ministry sites through the Extra Commitment Opportunities (ECO)?
- Does your congregation or presbytery financially support particular PC(USA) mission workers serving with PBM?
Existing connections between your congregation and PC(USA) mission workers serving with PBM can spark interest within the congregation for a visit to the border site where they serve. A short-term mission trip would be an opportunity to see first-hand the ongoing ministry you are supporting.
Goals and objectives of your trip
It’s important to identify the goals and objectives of a short-term mission trip, so that all participants have a clear idea of the trip’s purpose. As part of the discernment process, your delegation should ask itself these questions:
- What are our reasons for wanting to do a short-term mission trip?
- Is God calling us to participate in such a trip as part of a long-term relationship or partnership, or is it merely a “one-time shot” (next year we’re going to XYZ)?
- What might God do through a partnership with a Mexican church or presbytery?
- What do we hope to receive from a short-term mission trip?
- What do we hope and expect to give or share in a partnership?
- Why do we feel called to visit the U.S./México border instead of other parts of México or another place in the world?
- What concerns do we have about a potential partnership with a Mexican presbytery or church? Are there theological, cultural, financial, autonomy concerns, etc?
- What can we do to avoid paternalism and the creation of dependency in our relationship with a Mexican church or presbytery?
Your mission trip should allow for opportunities to:
- learn about the community (cultural, political, economic and social realities)
- learn about the church in that place (forms of worship and religious expression; challenges to the church and joys of the church in that place)
- learn about PC(USA) involvement in mission and ministry in that place
- build relationships with members of the local church and community
Some PBM sites provide service opportunities such as:
- clean-up, renovation and/or construction after natural disasters
- construction or repair work on church buildings, pastoral homes and/or homes of church members
- community service and development projects identified by the local congregation
- U.S. and Mexican partners working together on a third party’s project
- assisting local churches with their planned Vacation Bible Schools or similar activities
- preventive health training or service (limited to very few sites)