This is the fourth and final 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.
If you’d like to read the first part of how trips are helpful, you can find that here.
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…
6. When short-term teams effectively play their part in the Great Commission
When short-term teams identify their role in the greater Great Commission strategy they can serve effectively. You have a role to play in supporting the local worker and advancing the Great Commission. It might be prayer-walking, operating a mobile medical clinic, doing disaster relief, striking up gospel conversations, or whatever…Keep in mind how this act is contributing to the greater effectiveness of Great Commission work.
7. When short-term teams encourage long-term workers When volunteers have a desire to love, serve, encourage, and partner with long-term workers, then those workers will look forward to having volunteer teams come. Yes, it may be work to plan, and the days may be long, but knowing that there are brothers and sisters who care for you, love you, support you, are praying for you and your people group, and care enough to come around the world to show it, this can be the fuel a worker needs to get through the next six months on the field. Long-term workers need encouragement. Some churches are sending out short-term teams with the express purpose of solely serving the full-time workers. Fifteen years ago I would have argued that this type of trip is unnecessary and a waste of funds. But after almost 15 years on the field, I have seen how these types of short-term teams may be the most effective at increasing Great Commission effectiveness because the mission field can be an incredibly lonely place where many feel forgotten.
8. When short-term trips lead to specific not general prayer Instead of praying generically for God to save the lost, you are now praying for workers and unreached peoples by name. It is real prayer for specific people that builds camaraderie with long-term workers. Short-term workers can follow the results of their specific prayers, and see how their prayers are playing a part in the Great Commission.
9. When short-term teams help legitimize long-term workers’ platforms Short-term teams can help legitimize platforms. When a team comes on a short stint to help a missionaries accomplish their publicly stated purpose, it can add viability and legitimacy in the long-term team’s area of service.
10. When the short-term team develops a true partnership with the field worker
Short-term trips strengthen partnerships. It is hard to communicate the need for the gospel in a city or among a people if one has not been there to see it and interact with the people. The impact of coming to see a worker on the field, to discuss and dream together, to ask how the fellowship can help more in the future (and to follow-up with that help), and doing that in the place where the worker desires to see the gospel spread cannot be overstated.
It is our prayer that we continue to be a Great Commission denomination and that our churches continue to give faithfully, send generously, and go regularly. May these posts begin the conversation in your church as to how you can leverage your short-term mission trips to be as effective and helpful as possible–for the sake of our long-term missionaries on the field and ultimately for God’s glory to be known among the nations.