Posts Tagged ‘Short Term Missions’

Short Term Missions – Carol Lewis

August 16, 2010

A little while back I posted a treatise on Short Term Missions.  Click here to read the original post. I want to follow up my comments by someone who has thought a lot about these issues. Here is a short video that shares her views.

Comment to this post if you have a question for her.

Link to original video file.

Short Term Missions

January 28, 2010

Here is some of my recent thinking along the lines of short term missions.  Most of the comments apply to the majority STM trips taken by local churches.  For those going long term as career missionaries who take a scouting trip, different rules apply.  Allow me to summarize my thoughts at the onset: STM is happening, but we need to take steps back to determine the most effective steps forward.  When thinking through STM the ministry of the career missionary is the central, creative steps need to be taken to truly serve the people being ministered to (dependency a huge issue with STM).

When planning a STM trip, you really need to have a sense of what your purpose is for this trip and guide everything along those rails. The strategy of having an assortment of different activities and events may not benefit the nationals or the missionaries and it may not make lasting impact on the people you bring.  A lot of times STM takes the shotgun approach that accomplishes its goal but also destroys the growth surrounding the focal point of the STM.

If you really want to go and learn the culture, experience life in country and show the nationals you care for them, go and learn.  Sit still and don’t have an agenda of things “to-do”. You cannot run activities (that may come outside the cultural context) and expect to learn the culture and language at the same time. They are often dichotomous – choose either a work trip with little cultural exposure or a immersion trip with little doing. You can’t learn when you are busy doing.

The more people that go, the less each will learn. If you have a small group they will be forced to stay in the culture, learn language and participate with locals. The more people come the more the conversation will sink to the lowest denominator. I would ask the the host missionary how many they would like to have, and let them determine your group size. If you have more applicants than spots, it allows you to take the most dedicated individuals who will seek the most out of the trip and go the most. Short Term Missions is not an experience that automatically makes those going pray more, more concerned for the lost or poor, give more, or naturally develop a heart for missions and a calling to go. Those who put the most into their preparation and into the experience will receive the most benefit to themselves.

Know the possible complications that can arise with immaturity issues in middle schoolers. Also if parents go, the children may experience the trip through their lens and protection. Determine if this is what you want or not.

Here are a few websites I see as very helpful:

Question now, what is the most stated purpose of STM?  I usually hear that the experience is good for the people going, that their vision expands and they grow more with God.  I will confess that I am a skeptic, anecdotally I see many people who come back from STM just like those who go to a summer camp: “camp high.”  They turn spiritual for the first week they are back then return to their normal self.  I would love to see some research.  How many long term missionaries have been overseas on a short-term trip (especially before sensing God to call them as career missionaries)?  What percentage of the people who return from STMs do we see tangible evidences of growth: increased passion, increased giving, remain following Jesus (many more as well)?

Comments?