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Short Term Missions

December 21, 2011

Short term missions has now become a fairly controversial subject within missiology (study of missions) with some pretty strong opponents and proponents.  Personally, I began missions on a short-term outreach to Alaska and can see some serious benefits to going on a short-term trip.  Regretfully, short-term no longer means a year or even 3 months (like mine was during summer vacation), but perhaps 3 weeks.  Sadly, research is showing that once many have completed a 3 week trip, they feel that they “did the missionary thing” or even call themselves missionaries.  And as a long-term missionary who knows of other even longer-term missionaries, this slightly cheapens what missions means.  I was in Africa for 19 years which may sound like a long time, but I have many friends and colleagues on the field who have spent 30 or 40 years on the field literally sacrificing all they have for the Great Commission.  We as a culture need to learn more about long-term commitment and perseverance, the “lo, I will be with always…” mentality is become more and more foreign to us and these younger generations.

This is a short video another missionary posted, and despite being a bit callous towards short-term missions, it does highlight some major negatives of short-term missions.  As I said, there can be a lot of positives, but we must keep our eyes on the dangers so that we do not inadvertently stray off a cliff injuring not just ourselves but others too.  As a missionary back in the US now, I would like to encourage and warn local churches in the dangers and blessings of short-term missions.  Many long-term missions and missionaries struggle with the impacts of the rise of short-term missions and we ought to be more aware of it, something many of us don’t like to discuss too openly in the risk of hurting people’s feelings.  That said, I see benefits to short-term trips so long as they are well thought through and have right objectives and realistic goals.

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