New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

Mission Trips That Matter

Embodied Faith for the Sake of the World

Don C. Richter • February 2008

BUY Print $8.99

You've packed your duffel bag, cut back and repacked, gotten your passport in order, winced your way through the vaccinations, researched the culture and learned critical phrases in the native language.

Perhaps you've been so busy preparing to do mission that you've overlooked preparing to be mission. Sometimes, it's only after you return from a journey that you realize just how much you received compared to what you gave.

Mission trips and alternative spring breaks are on the rise. Millions of youth and adults are taking time to help people in need across the state and across the globe. In a world torn by misunderstanding and inequalities, making sure missions are mutually beneficial and just instead of patronizing is an urgent concern.

Learn to transcend personal experience and connect your itinerary with the gospel — even before you leave home.

"Seeing the larger story helps mission team members connect their travel experience to their ongoing life of faith," writes Richter. "Instead of viewing their lives as a series of random, disconnected episodes, Christians are challenged to view their activities in relation to God's activity. Guiding folks into this way of thinking about life is at the heart of leading mission trips that matter."

Discover how to personify Christ's love, becoming servant-guests, as you help others through projects in unfamiliar places. During such pilgrimages, you'll experience and foster community as well as learn, firsthand, about the world beyond your homebase. Mission Trips That Matter will inspire and guide groups to reflect on your life together before, during and after your travels. It will also encourage you to model "Here-as-well-as-there" Christian practices.

Richter provides aids to support the process of embodying Christ's love, including:

  • spiritual practices
  • stories
  • biblical passages
  • activity and reflection suggestions for the journey

Categories: Discipleship, Missions, Youth
Don C. Richter is associate director of Louisville Institute, which supports those who lead and study religious institutions and practices in North America. An Alabama native, Don graduated from Davidson College (AB) and Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv, PhD). An ordained Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister and practical theologian, Don served at Second Presbyterian Church in Louisville (1981–1984) and taught Christian education at Bethany Theological Seminary (1988–1992) and Candler School of Theology (1992–1998), where he was also founding director of the Youth Theology Institute. As associate director of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People of Faith (1999–2010), Don wrote Mission Trips That Matter (Upper Room Books, 2008), and with Dorothy Bass coedited Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens (Upper Room Books, 2002). He resides in Louisville, where he sings in the Highland Presbyterian Church chancel choir.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-9947-5

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: February 2008

Trim Size: 6 in (w) x 9 in (h) x in (d)

Page Count: 176

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Christian Ministry / Missions

BISAC1: REL045000



"With uplifting anecdotes, inspiring prayers, and sound theological reflection, Don Richter offers a gift to all who desire a broad understanding of mission. His imaginative 'embodied faith' approach upholds the mutuality and justice that undergird enlightened, crosscultural efforts, rescuing mission from domination assumptions and opening the way for transformation."
—The Reverend Joyce Hollyday Author and copastor of Circle of Mercy (Asheville, NC)

"Sometimes we are so busy doing mission trips that we don’t take the time to be mission. Don Richter encourages us to see mission differently — to see mission as a pilgrimage that transcends our personal experiences and connects us with the church’s mission throughout the ages, anchored in the mission of Jesus Christ. Mission Trips That Matter will enable you to do mission more effectively and with deeper significance. This resource will enrich ministry with our young disciples."
—Bob McCarty Executive Director National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry

"True to the method and philosophy of Christian practices published in Practicing Our Faith and Way to Live, Richter has prayerfully, liturgically, and poetically offered us a book that will no doubt be foundational for thoughtful leaders of short-term mission trips and service projects. He invites us to consider the why-tos and imagine new how-tos as we engage youth and adults in the formative journey of mission work."
—Evelyn L. Parker Associate Professor of Christian Education Perkins School of Theology Southern Methodist University

"Mission trips can be great experiences of learning, growth, and service. But they can also be a waste of time or worse. What makes the difference? Don Richter has explored the elements of successful mission trips and offers his insights in this very readable book. Mission Trips That Matter will be an important reference for leaders of, senders for, and participants in mission trips.
—Christian Smith William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director Center for the Study of Religion and Society University of Notre Dame

"Mission Trips That Matter is a timely companion for contemplation of, preparation for, and participation in missions as a practice of life-giving faith, incarnational ecclesiology, and transformational inward-outward homecoming. This book pulls into focus the why-tos of missions as experiential faith formation and prophetic action in service of God’s vision of right relationship and redistributive justice — locally and globally. In an age when globalization can paralyze and intimidate us, Richter’s words instruct and mobilize us for shalomalization!"
—The Reverend Kelvin Sauls Director of Congregational Transformation

Books by Don C. Richter