A Conversation on Short Term Missions

Short Term Missions is a fairly recent movement, gaining momentum in the 1980s.  Since then millions of dollars and people go to/on an international short term mission yearly.  What is the lasting impact on the host culture/church?  What change is there for the goers of these trips?  What are the benefits towards pioneer church planting efforts?  What value do we place on statistics, on case studies, anecdotes?  These are the types of questions we wrestle with the Insight students during their time.  How can we mitigate some of the negative aspects and increasingly become better stewards of our resources and responsibilities?  What are your thoughts? 

Here are some resources to check out to gain more knowledge for yourself:


5 Responses to “A Conversation on Short Term Missions”

  1. DonChubb Says:

    Short term missions often have much greater effect on the (often) young people that go rather than on the people they are going to serve. Especially if it is an evangelical or teaching type ministry. When going to a different culture it is poor stewardship to jump right into ministry before understanding the culture and customs of the people.

    You know the twenty-something that goes on 1 week to 2 month trips every summer to a different part of the world to do street evangelism, or help with a VBS in another country, or volunteer at an orphanage somewhere? I like to call those “vacationaries”

  2. Lys Avra Says:

    I agree Don, it certainly seems so. I’m a TCK myself and my experience overseas has changed my perspective of the world. Yet even for the young and impressionable, there is a difference between those who have lived overseas and those who have just gone on short trips. It also has to do with one’s attitude while they’re gone.
    I would agree that long-term people do manage great work in cultures where that is required. Paul did both long and short term trips himself, so we can see where both of them come in handy.

  3. Joseph Stoll Says:

    Ahh, short-term missions and all the glories and problems.

    My thoughts are that short-term missions will probably exist till the Second Coming, so the questions you asked about how we can use them well are the questions we want to ask.

    In my experience, it seems like short-term missions are God’s means in our time of calling people out long-term. That aspect is really awesome.

    I think the important attitude is one of self-sacrifice. That we go to lay down our lives for Jesus, not to have an interesting experience.

    Another good attitude is that we go to serve those who are there long-term, either national or expat. I led my first short-term trip last year, and we went with an attitude of service of our missionaries, and it really made it a very fruitful trip.

    So… yeah. Thoughts.

    Joseph Stoll

    • Adam Hoffman Says:


      Thanks for your comments. I wanted to reply to the stated benefit of STM on long term calling. This is a hard one from me. Anecdotal evidence suggests that long term workers seem to get their calling from Short Term Trips. However data suggests that those who go on STM have less of a long term commitment to long term engagement than those who have never been on a trip. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that STM should increase activities of praying, giving, and other lifestyles but the data shows that for the average person, after just a few weeks people return to their previous habits. I as well know people who have been impacted by a short term trip, and have since returned long term. However, the short term trip seems most effective with a person who has recognized they have a long term calling and are going on the STM to grow in rather than discover the long term calling.

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