Don’t Cancel That Short-Term Mission Trip

Books like Revolution in World Missions and When Helping Hurts have many youth pastors and church leaders ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater of short-term trips. We calculate the $3,000 it costs to send a student to Honduras for a week and start to squirm thinking about all the good we could do with those funds in Honduras—if only the student stayed home.

I’m an advocate for wise stewardship and for doing away with our old colonial approach to missionary efforts. But I’m also concerned youth are getting left out of opportunities to be involved in the global church. Isn’t there a place for students in this new paradigm of sustainability?

Of course, I understand why people balk at the traditional model of youth service trips, which usually goes something like this:

Spend a week in West Virginia or Mexico building a house and maybe running vacation Bible school for some local kids. Leave at the end of the week with lots of teary-eyed students, never to return. Repeat next year—just in a sexier location to make sure even more students will participate.

It isn’t hard to see that this model is self-focused and unproductive.

Still, there are some good reasons why our church has opted to continue with our short-term mission trip program.

Aside from my suspicion that many who give to fund a student’s trip wouldn’t give to local and global missions otherwise, let me offer some of the less pragmatic reasons you shouldn’t cancel next year’s trip.

Short-Term Mission Trips Can Teach Sustainability and Partnerships

I’m grateful to belong to a church body that emphasizes church empowerment in our mission strategy. Sometimes we have healthy dialogue and even disagreement about the usefulness of short-term missions. But who says students can’t participate meaningfully in the same kind of church empowerment we champion in our overall global missions strategy? I’ve seen firsthand that students can be the catalyst of these types of relationships, and when it happens, it’s beautiful.

This past year, for example, one of my students focused his year-long senior project on the Haitian church with whom we partner in Nassau, Bahamas. He worked with community leaders to create a sustainable garden providing meals for hungry families in the neighborhood surrounding the church. He, another student, and I traveled to Nassau this spring, along with two of our pastors, to conduct a children’s ministry workshop that allowed us to hand off some of the ministry we love to the faithful believers who live there year-round. When I returned with a team of 18 juniors and seniors this summer, they selflessly trained and encouraged our Haitian friends.

Short-Term Mission Trips Produce Long-Term Missionaries

Go ahead—ask the missionaries you know how God called them to the mission field. I have yet to meet a cross-cultural missionary who didn’t first participate in a short-term trip. Most of the people we know who participate in missions by praying, giving, or going first served on short-term trips.

One girl in our church has become something of a poster child for what I hope students will take away from their trips. When I expressed disappointment that she couldn’t join us again on a trip the summer after graduation, she reassured me it was okay since she’d gotten what she was supposed to from the experience. She said her task now is to create Christ-honoring change in the world through advocacy and fundraising. Wow. Talk about outgrowing her teacher! She put me to shame in her understanding of short-term missions. Currently, she’s raising money for a Haitian orphanage struggling to continue its gospel ministry to kids outside Port Au Prince. All of this advocacy she relates back to her experiences on short-term trips.

Short-Term Mission Trips Create Unstoppable Kids

A South African friend once asked me, “How do we raise up kids who are unstoppable?” He recounted the days of his own youth during and just after apartheid. He and his friends had been zealous for the Lord, and he didn’t see a parallel here in the United States. That question has spurred me on in ministry, and through experiences with students I’ve found pieces of the answer.

Take, for example, my students who got involved with special-needs peers at their public high school as a result of serving at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat. They started a club that gives such students an opportunity to participate in social activities after school. A group of students who served with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts in New Jersey want to know where they can get involved with a soup kitchen in our own city. Another student is compiling an anthology of works by the Nassau team to raise awareness about the poverty of our Haitian friends. And some students from the same group are embarking on an experiment to “give more, spend less” in order to raise money for specific needs in the Haitian community.

Students are learning the all-sufficiency of Christ as they embark on adventures naturally beyond them. They are recognizing their role in the global church. They are becoming unstoppable.

We’re still learning how to do this work cost-effectively in the name of wise stewardship. In a subsequent article, I’ll share what we’ve learned about implementing a multi-trip model that removes emphasis from exciting travel destinations and puts it back on partnership.

  • Blake

    Chelsea, I appreciate and praise our fellowship in Christ and our unified desire to see the nations healed physically and spiritually, and to see the kids of the local church engaged in that. I desire the primary thrust of my comment to be one of overwhelmingly unity, even in the face of some disagreement.

    “I literally just can’t understand the ideas that we have about missions. Sometimes I’ll walk through an airport in a foreign country and I’ll see 40 American teenagers or college students all with the same t-shirt one, they’re a christian group. You add it all up and they’ve spent about 80,000 dollars for their week and a half mission trip. It’s 40 of them. They’ve come down, they’ve preached the gospel that’s not really the gospel at all. They’ve done puppet shows. They’ve run around acting silly in their silly clothes and they go back and tell everybody a thousand people got saved, when in fact, probably almost no one got saved because all those people who made decisions don’t show up at church the next Sunday. Where that same amount of money could have put 25 peruvian pastors on the field for an entire year where they speak the language, preaching the gospel 24 hours a day.” Paul Washer, “Missions According to Paul Washer” (On Youtube)

    Now, I understand from what I have seen in your article that you would not condone the type of STM Paul describes in that quote. Nonetheless, I think there is a danger in trying to keep the baby that leads to keeping all of the grimy bath water we’ve got too.

    “Aside from my suspicion that many who give to fund a student’s trip wouldn’t give to local and global missions otherwise.”

    I think you are probably right here, but shall we do evil that good may increase? If we have pews filled with Christians who will only give to the cause if their niece is going, then our primary focus is to pray fervently for that person and to call them to repentance so that they will care about the eternal destiny of souls not the temporary destination of their best friend’s son. Again, I am by no means saying your model is evil when I quote Romans 6, but these people need to be called to repentance if that is the case, not get from them what we can.

    “I have yet to meet a cross-cultural missionary who didn’t first participate in a short-term trip.”
    Perhaps then we could maintain short term trips for students who display a genuine interest in going to the nations. I know many engineers-to-be dead set on living their lives in America who have spent tens of thousands bouncing around South America. When Helping Hurts addresses this, and makes a data-backed case that their is no correlation between STM involvement and LTM involvement.

    Again, I rejoice in our fellowship and am gladdened that this dialogue is happening. However I fear that many will come away from this article feeling content to flush ten thousands more down the drain year after year after year.

    • Tammy

      Amen! You said it well.

      Are there not better ways to get kids involved? What about *right in their own neighborhoods and inner cities*? Can we not foster long-term missions without short-term trips? (How in Heaven’s name did we get so many missionaries in the past when we didn’t have short-term youth mission trips? Hmm?)

      And, should we encourage something not so good in order to get some people to donate? Wouldn’t it be teach them to donate because it’s right?

  • Peter Waldo

    Great article, Chelsea. It’s a complex subject because so much of this *isn’t* about abstract issues like “stewardship” but truly goes to the core of our hearts (and the hearts of those strangers we want to serve!). Below are few points that we ought to consider.

    You’re concerned, and rightfully so, about throwing out the baby with the bathwater. But why? Is cancelling (to take an extreme, though sometimes necessary step) a short-term trip really throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In your example you give only two alternatives: sending a kid to Honduras for 3k, or sending the 3k to Honduras and leaving the kid in The States. Is there no third option? Mind you, both alternatives you give assume that “we must help” or, “if Honduras doesn’t need our children for a week, they surely need our money.” Perhaps they need something more, and perhaps there are far more than two alternatives in this situation. As cold as it seems, perhaps what Honduras really needs are for hordes of businessmen to read “Tentmaking” by Patrick Lai then go there to counsel and work with budding entreprenuers. All of a sudden money to help local orphanages can come from within their own country from their own neighbors… Just a thought.

    As for your reasons advising us to continue running Short-Term trips, they should be qualified, significantly. Try, “You’re allowed to run short-term mission trips *IF* they foster *local* sustainability…” Any model of short-term or long term that doesn’t rigorously apply this and care about it has missed the main points of “When Helping Hurts” and “Toxic Charity”. It sounds like your mission trips do foster local sustainability – “teaching others to fish” – and that’s great, but we shouldn’t leave this mere chance.

    Likewise, I question your logic of short-term trips creating long-term missionaries. In fact, there is much hard data out there against that statement, or at least not for it. Be careful not to make the logical fallacy of correlation = causation. Just because many missionaries today went on a short-term trip way back when, does not mean that that short term trip “produced” what they later became (long term missionaries). So how can a short-term trip produce long term missionaries? Well, lets look at the hard data. A thorough, heart-level, intensive debrief is the single variable that has been shown to actually lead to changed lives (that, should be our concern, right? not necessarily producing long term missionaries.) This debrief should be happening throughout the trip, and thoroughly when the trip is finished and then even after folks are settling in back home. Perhaps the overarching question for those embarking on planning STM trips should be “Am I rigorously searching out how to do this well, and rigorously applying what I’ve learned is the best and right way?” Getting to yes is not easy. But heading in that direction is a good thing no less.

    Why do we want unstoppable children? Sometimes I wish my neices and nephews would just stop! Haha, I’m half joking. But seriously, what makes “unstoppableness” a unique and heart level Christian quality?

    What then should our children be, if not “unstoppable”? I suggest they should be “Noble.”
    Twenty times, “noble” appears in Scripture, half of those times in the New
    Testament. The word is always used positively or neutrally (“noble birth”), but never
    negatively. It is used of both men and women.

    Before looking at some of these Biblical uses, let’s define “noble.” Webster’s New World
    Dictionary says it is: 1)Having renown, fame; illustrious. 2)Having or showing high moral
    qualities or ideals, or greatness of character; lofty. 3)Having excellent qualities; superior.
    4)Grand, stately, splendid, magnificent. 5)Of high hereditary rank or title; aristocratic. The
    Oxford Reference Dictionary adds, as one of its definitions: of excellent character, free from
    pettiness or meanness, magnanimous. From these definitions, we see that some are born
    noble (in name), but that anyone can be noble (in fact).

    Of course, by now we could simply be quibbling over pedantics. I do appreciate your heart. And no doubt, it seems at least at face value, that a lot of help and very little hurt has occured under your watch. Thank you for being a part of this conversation on TGC and beyond.

    • Peter Waldo

      btw, Chelsea, I work full-time in short-term missions myself. So unless I’m living a lie, I am not anti-short-term trips. Like an architect who is designing a massive building which will house many jobs and create many jobs, we must be very careful about our work, lest in the name of doing something, shall I say, noble, we actually hurt a good many by making even the slightest error.

  • Eric

    What Blake said.

  • Bob


    You said, “When Helping Hurts addresses this, and makes a data-backed case that their is no correlation between STM involvement and LTM involvement.” This is not actually what ‘When Helping Hurts’ says. They say that there is no increase in long term giving or sending (pg. 162 in the expanded version). Increase and correlation are two completely different animals. Executives with two different agencies have told me that more than 85% of the long termers joining their boards/organizations participated in an
    STM. This demonstrates a correlation with STM, but it does not speak to an increase. I would also point out that Kurt Ver Beek’s research, and the studies he has analyzed, are too narrow to be able to make the big picture conclusion that Corbett and Fikkert ascribe to his research.

    Just some food for thought.

    • Blake

      Thank you for that correction. I should have phrased it as no increase.

    • Tammy

      Thought: These short-term mission trips have become so popular in churches that just about ANY churched child will have had the opportunity to participate in one. So, the correlation may simply just be that the long-term missionaries grew up in a church.

      • Nicole

        Tammy, I’m proof that’s not the case. I did not grow up in church. But after becoming a Christian, I went on a short-term trip. It was on that short-term trip that God called into long-term work. I’ve stayed in contact with many of the other teens that went on those trips over the years, and a high percentage of them also feel called to long-term service (some have already left for the field, some are still working towards it).

  • Mandi

    I appreciate your article because I agree! As a missionary myself, we love having short term mission trips… and the ones with teens can be awesome. We (the church) most certainly need to examine how we conduct short term trips… a true partnership between the church and the missionaries/or overseas church is golden. Taking mission trips just to take them has proven to be ineffective for the long term ministry. However, with clear goals and a strong partnership they are highly valuable. It’s extremely materialistic to look at the cost of sending a team and think the money could be used better if simply sent to the country. We are of ONE body. Money cannot pray with other Christians, worship, encourage, teach, serve, hug, etc. Of course the money would be useful but truly partnering with others, developing relationships (ideally a church sending a team to the same place year after year)speaks volumes. Most people would rather see you truly care, go out of your way to visit, listen to them, worship with them and serve than just send money.

    And yes, most missionaries I know, and myself as well, were “called” to be long term missionaries because of trips with our youth groups. I like this article because absolutely, do not throw the baby out with the bath water! Examine the way a church does short term youth trips and fix it… don’t just stop going! And please don’t think that throwing money at another country is better… especially in areas that value relationships over our typical Western materialism. Thank you for this article.

  • Mike

    The percentage of vocational cross cultural missionaries who did a STM trip is actually as irrelevant as the percentage of NFL players who also played high school football. The vast, vast majority of high school STM participants never go to the field vocationally.

    Almost everyone I have ever met who has gone on a STM trip either has forgotten it already or lives the rest of their Christian life longing for the next one so they can get their mile high experience again.

    We have partnered with cross cultural missionaries many times with STM trips, but they are always focused on the actual mission, used adults and placed spiritual maturity as the #1 criteria for going. If it’s missions, then those who are sent should be qualified to me missionaries, which begins at home (Spurgeon famously said “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”)

    • Bob

      So thank you for making the point that 100% of NFL players did in fact get their start and first taste of football somewhere other than the NFL, which is the exact point being made in relation to STM for LTM missionaries. Just because you say that football players did not start playing in the NFL is irrelevant does not make it irrelevant. There was a lot of coaching, practice, recruiting, under the table payments in college (to those of you cynics :) ), etc. to get those guys where they are. Most missionaries don’t just apply to be missionaries without at least a taste of what missions is all about.

      Your statements also fall exactly in line with the weaknesses of all of the research done in the area of STM. “Almost everyone I have ever met…”, and “we have partnered”… This discussion is a difficult one, because good, long term, empirical research does not exist on the effects of STM participation on LTM participation. Furthermore, I could say that the vast majority of the people I know who went on STM’s did not go into foreign missions, but 100% of missionaries I know and support personally got their first taste of foreign missions from short term trips. One couple, who developed their heart for missions on a short term trip is currently one of two couples on the planet working among a completely unengaged people group. How can anybody begin to try to work out a calculus to ascribe the net value of STM and what they’re doing now to that?

      Finally, I agree with your final paragraph minus the Spurgeon quote. Missionary in this discussion is cross-cultural, which is not something everybody is called to. I would agree that all believers are called to participate in the enterprise of global missions, but not everybody is called to be a missionary. Of course, everybody is called to evangelize those around them, but again, for the purposes of this discussion, I am not sure that it is healthy to consider a basic Christian responsibility to evangelize one and the same as going to another land as a missionary.

      Not trying to be defensive, or a cantankerous argumentative troll, but just want to give some food for thought. Thanks for sharing yours!

  • Justin

    Amen & Amen to this article! There is no question that there is much abuse in the name of “short-term missions.” We have used and abused the affluence of the American church in the name of “missions” for the sake of glorified tourist ventures. Such short-term mission ventures need to cease. However, the benefit of short-term teams that have a biblically informed view of mission, are intentionally committed to discipleship as a requirement to serve, and are Christ-exalting in their methodology is powerful both globally and locally.

    Over the past 6 years or so our local church as revamped their strategy for short-term missions. This has caused us to establish a discipleship process that last for many months before the team leaves. Therefore the team is well equipped to serve, to teach, and to disciple. This “pre-trip” discipleship has become a highlight for the students and something that they recognize as necessary not only for global mission but for their every day lives. Secondly, we have begun to focus on long-term partnerships (not flash in the pan ministry). Our desire is to equip the national church to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:12). Our goal is to enable them to “not need us.” Third, we are intentionally not touristy. Through our training process and the actual going/serving, we are committed to serving Christ with a “reckless abandon.” So we don’t serve for a day or two and sight see the rest. Fourth, we go locally (in state), nationally, and globally. Rotating where we are going provides the students the opportunity to see how Christ is building His Church in a variety of contexts. This also shows the students that no matter where we go, it is a privilege and joy to exalt the name of Christ. Fifth, sering locally is a pre-requiste to serving abroad. We teach our teams that if they are not serving Christ in the local church why in the world would they want to go somewhere else and serve. Those who are not eager to serve Christ in their local church shouldn’t be involved in going somewhere else and serving Him. This is hypocritical at best.

    All in all, there is much that needs to change in broad evangelicalism when it comes to short-term missions. But the command to take the gospel to the nations is clear. Sure, this includes sending money oversees, but it also includes actually going and so we go. But we go carefully and strategically. Thank you for those who write on this issue and enable us by God’s grace to have more effective missions partnerships that include short-term mission teams.

  • Charlie

    It seems the discussion of spreading the gospel of God’s grace and love throughout the world can be one of the most ungracious and unloving ones. Some of the worst stereotypes, ad hominem and strawman arguments ever to rear their heads seem to come up when discussion missions, especially mission trips. Most ignore Scripture and are one sided. Some are based on personal experience, which any Christian knows doesn’t define truth. Even in the Paul Washer statement, which I highly respect, only one example of a “mission team” that he passed by in an airport is given. The studies used have to be examined to see what statistics and documents they examined and researched. Studies show most studies are disproven. A study may come out tomorrow saying mission trips are waste while in six months one may come out touting their success in helping fulfill the Great Commission. Other arguments are simply judgmental and unloving. “Oh, you’re just going on a gloried sight-seeing tour just to show others how super spiritual you are.” Of such arguments I wonder if the people making them are just trying to self-righteously justify their apathy toward God’s heart for the nations. One can just as well self-righteously, legalistly send money every month to feel warm fuzzes and excuse not going to the mission field as one can go on multiple summer mission trips for the spiritual high and an excuse not to tell their neighbor in suburbia about Jesus.
    We need to look at Scripture. Acts 1:8 says “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” If a mission trip is the only way someone can fulfill this command of Christ, then don’t discourage them from going on one. If someone has shown obedience in telling people in their city, state and home nation about Christ, don’t discourage them from going due to legalist, pragmatic, materialist arguments and studies about money. Exhort people going on mission trips to be wise, but don’t discourage, or ridicule, them from being passionate and zealous for Christ. Just because more money goes to nations already reached than toward mission efforts in unreached people group’s doesn’t mean we stop giving, it means we adjust. Send more mission teams to the 10/40 window.
    Here’s a thought: let’s do a study on giving to mission and charity organizations by people who have gone on mission trips versus those who have not gone on mission trips. See who gives radically. (of course radical can be a subjective term).
    In closing: “Sometimes I wonder if it’s easier to fly to Africa to share about Jesus than to walk across the pea patch to a neighbor,’ says author Curt Iles. “It shouldn’t be, but it can seem harder. However, it’s no excuse for me not to. Jesus talks about it in Acts 1:8: Jerusalem, Judea (our area), Samara (anywhere where it’s difficult), and the ends of the Earth. It’s not a multiple-choice quiz. He calls us to be involved in some form in each area. It may be the Bush area of Liberia or a Piney Woods pea patch. Either way, it’s a privilege. It’s also a responsibly …Jesus’ mandate in Acts 1:8 was not just to the disciples of the first century, but also to us. ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ We are to be His witnesses in ‘Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.’ This verse is not a either/or statement. These four geographical areas are not the buffet at Ryan’s Restaurant, where we can choose one, several, or even none…it requires a world-sized balanced view both of our Jerusalem…the place where we live daily…as well as the faraway hard-to-reach places that can be summed up as ‘the uttermost parts.” When people say “why should I witness abroad when I can witness at home”, I like to turn the statement on its head and say “why should I witness in America, which has a church or Christian bookstore on every corner, when I can witness overseas.”

    • paul Cummings

      Charlie, that was graciously and thoughtfully written. I couldn’t agree more with you, thank you and Chelsea.

  • Don forward

    I grew up on the mission field and also went back to do construction work as a living in foreign countries. Having young people go seems more productive then having adults go. Many of the pastors have asked why they come when they treat non Christians and very seldom do the people they minister ever come to the churches.
    A majority say they can do much more with the money used for travel in their community rather then have these large groups come for a couple of days.
    I can’t even imagine how much good could be done with 80,000 in Venezuela, etc.
    Seems that it would be much more beneficial for all if the money was spent to have kids come from Venezuela to YOUR church for a week, see your doctor, your school. I’m sure it would be much more meaningful for them and you to see the right side of America.

  • david bartosik

    Great stuff- short term missions in and of themselves not evil but keeping them in perspective of their purpose and impact.

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  • Merlin Devid

    I also want to say that don’t cancel that short term Mission trip.Revolution in World Missions is a great book.

  • Dan Iverson

    More than 1000 short-termers over 27 years

    My wife and I are MTW church planters in Metro Tokyo, Japan. As I read some of the discussion about short-term missions, I could not help but think that my wife was at a baby shower for 8-day old Emi who exists because of short term missions. The couple hosting the shower met as short-termers on our team (one two-week, one two-year), and are now career church planters.
    Eleven years ago, my wife and I wrote an article “Short-term Missions: Blessing or Bother?” (see link below). Because our team has had so many short-termers, we are asked by our mission organization to write this article. As I read the article and comments on the Gospel Coalition website about short-term missions, I could not help but think of the great blessing, largely, that over 1000 short-term team members and short-term missionaries have been to our family and our team’s church planting and disaster relief effort over the last 27 years. I made some new comments at the beginning of the article, and put the article on our website at

  • Staffaction

    A post on TIFWE speaks very well to this. From the very end:

    “Scripture is very explicit regarding doing too much for the “poor.” Scripture does tell us that we are to defend the weak and the fatherless and maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. However, we are also told, in both the New and Old Testaments, that if people don’t work, they don’t eat. But, because many of us from the “developed economies” look at poverty as a lack of something, we believe that the logical solution is to give stuff to the “poor.” And until 2010, I held those same beliefs.

    The issue is not that there are areas of the world that are “overloaded” with missionaries; the real issue is that there are too many missionaries (both Christian and NGO missionaries) that are so focused on their own agenda that they fail to see the likely unintended long-term consequences of their actions.”

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  • Peggy

    What a wonderful discussion, and I appreciate the arguments of both sides of this issue. My frustration is that most of the comments (not all) give statistics, site studies, opinions, experiences, and data. All these things are great tools that God has given to us. But they are empty tools unless balanced with the Word of God and the leading of the Holy Spirit, because God’s ways are often not our ways. God’s ways don’t always make sense, and if we try to put God on a spread sheet, we will only get angry and frustrated. The Holy Spirit leads us to do things that will not add up on a calculator, and won’t fit in any kind of box. Our aim as believers is to be pleasing to God, not to necessarily make good, logical sense.

    Do we need to evaluate Short Term missions? Absolutely! Do we need to be good stewards of our resources? Of course! Are we constantly in need of changing our course? A hearty “Yes” to that as well. We need to be checking everything we do to be sure it lines up with the spirit of the law of the scriptures.

    I have been involved with missions and missionaries since my childhood in a variety of ways. I am now approaching “elderly” in years, but continue to be involved in a variety of mission opportunities, including, but not limited to, getting on a jet every January, and working in the same little town on the other side of the world. I have seen some excellent long-term missionaries, I have seen some that were far from excellent. Over the years, I have seen God use missionaries in amazing ways, and some of those were not the ones I thought were the excellent ones! I have seen great short-term trips, and some that were not so great. Some of the ones God used the most were the ones that were quite dismal. I have worked with national pastors that I have such high respect for,high regard, and working with them is a joy. I have also worked with 2 National Pastors that were not God honoring, and just out to get whatever $ he could squeeze out of “rich” westerners. In the USA, I have seen people do evangelism all wrong and bring many people to the Lord. I have seen others persevere for decades, scattering the seed of the gospel on all kinds of soil, and it wasn’t until they died that the seeds began to sprout and become amazing disciples of Jesus Christ. Sometimes statistics can help us make wise decisions, but sometimes they are meaningless and can be turned on their little heads. The essence is that God looks on the heart while we often look at immediate, tangible results. The Bible uses words like “Go” and “all nations” and “ends of the earth”. That may not make sense to us, but it’s there. Sometimes, being a good steward means going to the ends of the earth, sometimes it means going next door. I have made many mistakes over my lifetime. That doesn’t invalidate what God can do with me, anyway! We are all of one body, but we are all blessed with different gifts, personalities, and passions. Jesus wants us to function together with unity, without critical spirits, edifying, encouraging and lifting up. And this is where I see the problem of Short Term Missions: 1.Not enough preparation. If going with an organization, look to see what preparation is in place. But don’t just hand all the teaching over to the organizations, the church needs to help prepare. Programs in place to do this are wonderful, but mature missions-minded people need to take a short termer to lunch, or for coffee and share what you know: Culture, Bible verses, experiences, cautions, prayer, etc. 2.The on-field missionary needs to be well prepared to utilize the team. Whether a national pastor or a cross-culture missionary who is organizing the projects, it needs to be genuine, there needs to be a spirit of cooperation and love. 3.The short term missionary needs to have a sense of accountability to his/her home church, and there needs to be ongoing teaching during the trip. The folks back home need to be devoting themselves to prayer praying for their short-termer, that God may open a door for so that the message of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed. 4. Follow up: Most churches think that if a short-termer can give a 5 minute report in a service, the church has done their follow up — oh no,no,no,no! This is the time for intense counsel by the wise, loving, mature, experienced people of the church to step up, mentor, and guide each member to seek God for the next step of ministry. This is a time to encourage and guide — not a time to tell a high school student (or adult for that matter) that the experience he/she had was expensive and worthless and didn’t do God a bit of good. Great way to squelch!

    Let us all be open to God’s guidance – to raise support, give generously, and give joyfully without being judgmental. Let’s give to long-term cross-cultural, ends-of-the-earth missionaries. Let’s give to the nationals who have an amazing, unique perspective on their home turf. Let’s give to short term missions as God leads us, remembering that the message never changes, but the delivery always does. Some countries are closed to full time missionaries. Without short-termers, there would be a huge gap in many ministries around the world. Let’s give to home missions, lets give to youth programs, projects for the elderly, the disabled, the ill, and to our local church. Let’s get involved in projects that help people: building things, cleaning things, teaching skills, giving rides, sitting with the hurting – both in our hometowns and to “all nations”. Let God touch your heart. Open yourself to the leading of the Holy Spirit and be willing to do what God asks even if it doesn’t make perfect economic sense. Remember that we serve an amazing God who will do far above what we can imagine in HIS timing! Evaluate, make improvements, and quote the Bible more than you quote statistics. May God bless and guide each of you, and give us all hearts of unity and respect.

    Verses I consulted in writing the above: Prov 16:4, John 17:4, Acts 20:24, 2 Cor 5:9, Eph 2:10, John 3:16, John 12:46. Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, John 20:21, Acts 1:8, 1 Cor 9:16, Romans 1:14, 2 Cor 5:14, Acts 4:12,20 Matt 24:14, Acts 20:24, Psalm 66:16, Psalm 96:2-3, 1 Peter 3:15, John 14:27, Col 1:3-8, Col 1:28, Col 2:3-5, Col 2:20-23, Col 3:1-4, C0l 3:12-17, Col 4:2-6, 1 Thess 2:4-6, Matt 18:6, and others…