The Role of Short‐Term Mission Teams in the New Centers of Global Christianity

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Abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic and interview data collected in El Salvador and South Africa over a four‐year period, this article uses a social constructionist approach to describe two types of interaction between short‐term mission teams and their hosts. First, hosts encounter the flow of teams as foreign social products. Once they internalize this new part of their social reality, hosts seek to recruit and control teams. They also mimic the practice of short‐term missions, sending their own teams to remote locations. Second, hosts interact directly with visitors, engaging in world‐building activities that create transnational religious ties. Short‐term missions thus make residents of the new centers of Christianity more mobile in Christianity's global civil society and increase the number of ties between Christians across borders. These findings have implications for the scholarly debate about how to conceptualize Global Christianity; they also broaden the scope of the emerging discourse on short‐term missions.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2011.01600.x

Affiliations: Development Studies, Asbury Theological Seminary

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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