Friday, July 15, 2005

The long and short of short-term missions

Christianity Today has run articles here and here on the ineffectiveness of short-term missions, and Tod Bolsinger discusses the issue here (HT: SmartChristian Blog). I've long thought that too many short-term missions, particularly with youth, were little more than rationalizations for expensive vacations. I don't mean to say that most short-term missionaries are insincere, but I do think the church has been too quick to pour time and money into these trips without know how effective they are in spreading the Kingdom.


Anonymous Jon Glass said...

Speaking as an overseas missionary, I hope my perspective can add insight to this issue. I have long said that short-term missions should be looked, not for the benefit it brings to the missionary, or for the work that is accomplished on the field, but for the work that is accomplished in the hearts and lives of those who partake in the effort--the short-termers, if you will. Granted, right now, I am speaking primarily of those two-to-four-week trips, where groups of teens go to "help" the missionary in his work. To be honest, these trips are a lot of work for the missionary on the field, and also, usually a lot of expense that the team never sees, as it is the missionary's work begins long before the team arrives. However, I am glad to spend the time and money, not because I look for a benefit here, but because I have often seen the changes in the hearts and lives of the young people. We have seen several surrender to God's call to the ministry, but whether or not they eventually come to a foreign field, their attitudes have been permenantly changed, their perspective broadened, and they will never again be the person they were before they went on the trip. IMO, if you really want to change a young person, send them on a trip, rather than to Christian camp.

I think that, when viewed in this light, short-terms missions can be better understood, and, I hope, better planned and executed, and, I hope, the expense better justified.

10:48 AM, July 15, 2005  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for your insights, Jon. I have deep respect to those who commit years (rather than weeks) of their lives to overseas missions. In that light, I really appreciate your insights, and I hope your positive experiences on the effects of short-term missions are the rule.

11:06 AM, July 16, 2005  

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