Hancock, “New Mission Paradigms”

Hancock, Mary E. 2013. New Mission Paradigms and the encounter with Islam: fusing voluntarism, tourism, and evangelism in short-term missions in the USA. Culture and Religion 13(5).

Abstract: This paper concerns U.S. evangelical Christian mission practice in the Muslim world. Interests in and support for mission work among Muslims have increased – shifts that evangelical church leaders and missiologists attribute to the impacts of 9/11 and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that followed – and the short-term segment, which fuses voluntarism, tourism and evangelism, represents the newest paradigm in these undertakings. While the overall popularity of short-term mission is recognised by scholars and church leaders, its role in mediating interactions between Christians and Muslims has received little attention. This paper documents short-term mission engagement with Islam by showing how Islam is represented by agencies and how volunteers interact with Muslims. I argue that styles of representing and engaging with Islam, while arising from a range of theological orientations, are also products of changing contexts and practices of mission, both the routinisation of short-term mission and the expanded opportunities for mission under rubric of faith-based development. This paper is based on research in Southern California between 2009 and 2012, including visual and textual content analyses of sending agencies’ websites and guidebooks, and interviews with 57 short-term mission participants.