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Are Short-Term Mission Trips Effective?

Evangelistic Initiative

Short-term mission outreaches can be a very dynamic experience for the local church. All these new-faces create a buzz in the mission field and this helps evangelism. When I was in Brazil, the local TV crew came out to film our team and this TV exposure brought more people to hear the Word of God. Those who responded were taught God’s Word by the local church after we left. The mission was effective, because we knew that we were there to support the indigenous Church. See Acts 15:36.

Dynamic Visits – A Fresh Anointing

Short-term mission outreaches can also change the lives of local believers because it becomes a time of special ministry. Often people have fasted, prayed and expected the Lord to move as they prepared for the mission and the Lord honours their sacrifice.

Around fifteen years ago my local church was going through a dry season. Someone said we we’re “having re-runs” of meetings from years ago! Then a pastor came from Africa on a short-term mission trip to England. He preached and invited people up for prayer. Almost everyone who went forward got a special word, as this man moved mightily in spiritual gifts, especially the word of knowledge. I’ve never forgotten that day, because it was powerful. This African revealed a new level of the anointing and encouraged us all. See Luke 9:1.

Changing Lives

Short-term mission outreaches are also life-changing experiences for the person who goes. Many people have ‘the time of their life’ and arrive home with fresh fire for God. Scott Kirby, author of Equipped for Adventure, noted with his own doctoral research project that: ‘Over three-fourths of the respondents reported increased missions giving as a result of their short-term mission experience…’ Kirby also noted STEM Int’l Ministries study which revealed that STM participants ‘on the average doubled their missions giving as a result of their short-term experience.’ Whilst ‘James Cecil’s doctoral study found that seventy percent of short-term volunteers surveyed increased their mission giving as a result of their volunteer experience.’ Whilst ‘Tommy G. Purvis’s research project found that seventy-six percent of the volunteers reported increased missions giving as a result of their volunteer mission trip.’ Kirby notes a link between those who go on STMs and those who become full time missionaries. The conclusion being: ‘The short-termer stream has been the single greatest pipeline for flooding the world with new long-term missionary recruits.’

Universal Call

Jesus commanded His Church to “Go” into all world. Who said that only a few Christians are allowed to go? Who said that only the full-timers could go? In the book of Acts, because of persecution the Church was spread and they all went out into the world. They left not as full-time missionaries, but as Christians and they spread the Word wherever they went. See Acts 11:19.

A Precedent

The Bible reveals that the early Church sent out short-term mission teams and Jesus Himself sent out short-term mission teams. See Mark 6:7 and Acts 16.

An Active Church

Churches that complete short-term mission outreaches also prove that they have moved beyond the ‘theological’ call to go, by putting their money where their mouth is. They have participated directly in the work of the Lord. See James 1:22.

Learning From History

In the past, missionary work was only available to special ‘full-time’ missionaries. But Loren Cunningham was called to found Youth With A Mission (YWAM) by God. He proved that young people could serve the Lord in missions and his ministry has had a world changing effect. Today, many retired people are also spending time abroad on missions, bringing their skills to help the local church.

Short-term or Long-term?

The Apostle Paul himself was both a long-term and short-term missionary. He often preached the Word, saw people saved, did some teaching, appointed leaders and then moved on. Only later did he come back.

This teaches us that our support of the indigenous Church will be more effective if a long-term relationship comes out of our short-term mission. See Acts 12:25.

Short-Term Missions, A Christian Guide to STMs is a full and concise guide to STMs. What you need to know about planning a STM, or joining a STM team, and considering the options as part of the Great Commission, from the Good News to good works. ‘Short-Term Missions, A Christian Guide to STMs.’ Go.

In the final part - Lessons To Be Learned Go.

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