Faith Today: You are actively encouraging young
people to go on short-term mission trips. Yet
there seems to be a growing feeling out there
that these trips may do more harm than good.
Tell us about that.
Steve Colby: We see these trips as an opportunity to turbo-disciple university students
and youth, and see them catalyzed in their
faith. A short-term experience is primarily
a discipleship experience for the goer. We
realize that. But what we are looking for is
an ongoing partnership with our hosts. We
prefer the term global partnership to short-term mission. It’s the ongoing relationship
we want to develop. We want to see youth
and university students see they have a
part to play with developing the relationship with the global Church. And we’ve
seen so much fruit.
FT: Why do you prefer the term global partnership?
SC: We are now in, and have been for
awhile, a season where mission is changing.
The global Church, the Majority World
Church, is rapidly growing and in many
cases is advancing the gospel on their
own. Missionaries are being sent from
Brazil, from Africa. The mission is not
solely a North American enterprise. We
have the opportunity to go as learners.
The word partnership shows we are going
as collaborators, to learn from and with
our Majority World partners.
FT: But does unleashing Western youth in the
Majority World make for a good mission trip?
SC: There has been, and still are, short-term missions that are well intentioned,
but may fall short of being that helpful.
And may not be in great partnership with
local Christians. The classic for me is one
time a team before us went to build a dry
composting toilet, only to learn over time
the locals had no desire for a dry composting toilet. The next team came and
The invitation we are getting from the
global Church is, “We’d like you to come
and have relationship with us.”
I’m personally keen because no one
STEVE COLBY is director of missions for Inter-Varsity
Christian Fellowship (IVCF) Canada. In his role, he organizes
and escorts teams of young people from Canadian universities
on short-term mission trips around the world. He has done
this for years. But he calls them global partnerships.
This year at Urbana 2015 Steve Colby is a keynote speaker.
During North America’s largest student missions conference,
Colby will call youth to mission in an age when the value of
mission trips is sometimes questioned.
Faith Today spoke with Colby about his passion for mission,
the things that still can go wrong, and why it’s so worth it.