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Short Term, Long Term, on Whose Terms?

Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S.

Introduction

I am grateful for the invitation to participate in the USCMA’s annual conference, especially so because of the theme that has been chosen. The gathering of people at this conference provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the many sides of the question about the term of mission—not only in matters of effectiveness achieved by varying amounts of time in mission, but also what are the theological and missiological implications of different lengths of service in mission. In this address I hope to explore some of them, and look for- ward to what promises to be an engaging discussion in the coming days.

As a way of getting started on this topic, I will make this presentation in four parts. The first part will be a brief sketch of some of the data that are available on differing lengths of mission. This will set the scene for the second part, which will look at what cultural factors contribute to even considering different lengths of service in mission. Are there factors, unique to this country, that need to be taken into account as we look at varied terms of mission? This will lead into the third part that will explore the theological and missiological ramifications of short and longer-term mission. A fourth and concluding part will try to draw the various strands of this discussion together and pose some questions that deserve further examination. The phenomenon of short-term mission raises a host of interesting questions. My hope here is to explore a few of them.

Spirituality and Theology: