here’s an article VERY worth reading, from the christian science monitor (about short term missions trips). i was interviewed for an hour for this article, but apparently said nothing worthy of inclusion! maybe that’s why it’s a good article. agree or not, wholly or partially, the article is good food for thought.
10 thoughts on “short term missions”
this has always left a sour taste in my mouth. the amount of funds (and fundraising) necessary to maintain these trips is enormous. if that money alone was sent to the real missionaries in the field real change could be made.
when liam and i calculated what our students raised to head to our national convention we realized we could have hosted our own area convention, brough in a huge band and made a difference in our own community. it’s cost effectiveness is shaky indeed.
are we really considering the stewardship of kingdom funds in the best ways possible?
I don’t know. I went on a short term missions trip two years ago in high school. I then joined the military after high school and counted down the days when I could return to Mexico. I did and stayed for four years. In our youth group we have taken many groups down, and last year, 7 that had graduated left for longer term missions. Sure it’s not perfect, short-term missions should always line up with what the longer term missionaries are doing. It’s a shame when people never learn to value what they have and throw it away because some white kid will show up to give them new stuff soon.
I meant two years during highschool. That would be awesome if i was only two year out of highschool instead of 15.
Seth Barnes – who was quoted in the article – felt like he was taken a bit out of context. Might be a good complement to your readers reading the article to also read Seth’s post
bobby. your question is precisely one of my concerns. there are more dollars given to stm by the american church now than to long-term missions. don’t get me wrong. i have plenty of rants about long-term AND i think there’s a place for stm done well.
but where are the assessments asking about the alleged benefits of stm–not just to us–but to the receiving end? and of course this question gets increasingly complicated when wed with the idea that most of the Christian Church lives outside the Western world…
Has anybody read Seth’s comments about that article. He was interviewed, but he felt like he was misquoted, as did another of the interviewees. So, maybe it’s a good thing you weren’t quoted, Mark. Here is Seth’s take on the original interview based on the transcripts he was sent. I couldn’t get his other comments to come up – computer glitch – but worth going to his blog site to find. http://www.sethbarnes.com/index.asp?filename=should-shorttermers-benefit-from-their-mission-experience
Personally, I’ve been wrestling with this lately, too, thinking about what Seth has said vs. some of the comments made above. I’ve also been thinking about the attitude that we go on STM’s with – what’s in it for our kids instead of being there to serve the people…though the students don’t get anything out of it unless they are there to serve. I don’t have a definitive answer, but I keep thinking.
Rather than just taking youth trips, I think there is great wisdom in combining youth and adults to all go together on a trip to a location that the church has build a partnership, that accomplishes long term goals of empowering the local church (non-american church) to become what God intended. So that short term mission trips play a small role in accomplishing something big long term, in their country as well as giving Americans a vision for the Kingdom of God world wide. The requires going much deeper, but I think will result in much better fruit all around.
Just a thought.
That is a great thought, Jon. Not only does it empower the local church (and the missionaries, if there are any), but it also helps teens to be a part of the whole church, and not just see themselves as a “youth until I become an adult.”
For the record, I wasn’t misquoted in this piece. My comment that kids often come back and resort to the same racist behaviors they demonstrated before they went was in fact found in a study done on some Chicago area youth. But the fuller context is that it doesn’t have to be this way. When combined with an ongoing plan for discipleship, I think the kinds of lessons learned from an experience like this can actually move a student (and ME!) toward seeing some of the hypocrisy in my behavior back home.
Jeff MacDonald, the correspondent who did this piece is currently working on one for USA Today which focuses more upon adult participation in STM. Should be something worth watching for…
I follow tony sheng’s (above commentor) blog pretty regularly. He is a part of something that is more a lifestyle of missions that culminates in an overseas trip. This is something we are hoping to develop with our own missions projects through FCYC.
I had a student on my trip last year beg the Church for money she felt she had to have for spending cash. The minister thought it was legitamate and made me give her money out of the excess we had raised. The excess was intended to be an offering for the Church we were serving. On the car ride home from the airport she called her friend and made plans to blow all her left over money at the mall. Had this student been through a discipling process and then “turned down” for the over seas trip because she wasn’t ready, the mission would have been better served.