This is the third post in a four-part series on the effectiveness of short-term mission trips. If you missed the first installments on when trips are unhelpful, you can find them here: part one / part two.
I’m so thankful to be a part of a denomination where thousands of churches pool our resources to do Great Commission ministry together, and where many of those churches individually engage in several short-term mission trips throughout each year. However, I’ve come to learn over 15 years of doing short-term trips that some can be very detrimental to the Great Commission.
For that reason and for the edification of churches that seek to engage in the Great Commission, I offer this four-part series on the effectiveness of short-term mission trips.
These insights are not mine, but rather have been given to me by full-time missionaries on the field who want to be a help to the churches.
Short-term trips are helpful…
- When the trip provides opportunities for broad seed-sowing
The short-term team can multiply the efforts of on-field missionaries. They can help open new doors in areas yet untouched with the gospel. While the short-term team may not see results from their broad seed sowing, it can be a great first step in a new area for long-term workers.
- When they create unique opportunities to spread the gospel
Short-term trips can create unique opportunities for preaching the gospel, for example, when “curious foreigners” are asking questions about religious artifacts or religious rituals. There are places that a worker would be looked at suspiciously if they visited frequently, but if they are showing the visitors around, then the worker might be able to get into a region that they either might not be able to get into alone or might not be able to live in and thus need a valid reason to be there.
- When they call out long-term missionaries
Many long-term missionaries sensed God’s calling by going on short-term trips. It is one thing to read about other parts of the world. It is entirely another think to be submersed into a different culture with its sights, sounds, and smells. God uses short-term trips to expose people to his calling to the harvest. Sitting comfortably at home God’s call can be romanticized, but in the markets of overcrowded cities, it can become visualized.
- When they create globally-minded people
Perhaps the most helpful thing to come out of short-term trips is that it can create and mold hearts to be more about God’s global glory. A trip can cause a person’s heart desire to grow tenfold for God’s glory in the salvation of unreached people. Experiencing a new culture, religion, language, and people first-hand cannot be matched by any story, movie, testimony, or picture. Maybe the plane ride is what it will take to have more globally minded prayer-warriors, givers, parents, and pastors at home.
- When they make you love the nations in your backyard
Meeting a Muslim face-to-face overseas can help one see that meeting their Muslim neighbor down the street is not scary. It is sad that some are willing to fly around the world to meet Muslims, or Buddhists, but won’t walk down the street to meet their Muslim neighbor. Short-term trips can help us effectively minister to refugees and internationals at home.
Stay posted for part two of how short-term trips can be helpful