http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/june/short-term-missions.html?p... ]Should Churches Abandon Travel-Intensive Short-Term Missions in Favor of Local Projects?
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Draw an arc between this filing and "Why Independent Baptist Missions Is Failing"
Money spent on sending teens on mission's trips is money unavailable for career missions
A church in our area sent their teens to Puerto Rico this past winter ... what kid wouldn't want to escape Minnesota's arctic temps for that!
I think it's being a little short sighted to assume that the locals we send short term teams to are the entire point. They're part of it, but it's also about letting the young people become exposed to what God is doing around the world. Sure we can cite overboard examples of how a church did it badly, but it can be done really well. If churches and youth groups were more realistic about their real impact in the short term. But what about the long term impact on the young people?
It is so simple, yet so difficult at the same time. What J.I. Packer called an antinomy.
the majority (perhaps 100%) of which started as volunteers on our church sponsored mission trips. This has happened over 15 years and many more are "in the pipeline" to go. Sending teens on mission trips (far and near) has paid huge dividends to the kingdom in our experience.
Oh. Didn't you hear? It's just cooler to post pictures on Facebook of yourself in South Africa than it is to post pictures of yourself helping poor Americans next door. It's all about creating a cool online persona these days.
As others have mentioned, the real benefit of short-term missions trips is to awaken in those that participate a real understanding of what the field can be like, and to help them determine whether or not God is calling them to missions. Even when that is not the case, God can really use those experiences in the lives of those who take those trips to give them a real burden for the harvest, whether it be close by or farther away. Certainly, every person has to battle pride, and it would be easy to use a missions-trip experience to help create "a cool online persona." You're probably right that many participants only get that much out of it. However, even with that danger, I believe the trips are still worth it, because they can lead to some lifetime missionaries, or even stay-at-home Christians with a bigger burden for the lost.
Here's another perspective worth considering: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/18/why-you-should-consid... Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips
There's also a good panel discussion at Desiring God 2011 ( http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/conference-messages/speaker-... ]this one I think) where David Sitton and some others talk about this issue and the amateurization of missions.
IMO, short-term missions need to be very carefully considered and controlled. They can be a huge burden on a missionary, they can create an unrealistic view of missions, and give a false sense of genuine contribution. On the other hand, they can be a part of God's calling in someone's life to mission work.
I would recommend talking very frankly and openly with the missionary. And missionaries, be frank and open. If a groups size or plans are a burden on you, or make your ministry harder, then say so. You are going to be there long after they are gone. Make sure you don't damage that.
Something we forget, is that the role of Missionary is a very important one, and one that requires a great level of spiritual maturity and knowledge, as well as preparation. (Remember that the Apostle Paul was a missionary, one of the greatest Evangelists and Theologians of all time.) As with any position in the Church where you will be required to preach the Gospel, or teach from the Bible, it should not be taken lightly. Only certain people have the gift of Evangelism. One should not treat missionary trips like vacations or ways to excite the youth in the Church. One should not become a missionary unless one really knows what one is getting into.
If you are not already evangelizing in your own community and in your own language, then you will definitely not be evangelizing in a foreign land in a foreign tongue.
I have no problem with having a mixed missions/vacation trip. It's just like the rest of life, you witness of Christ wherever you happen to be. As a family, we would go on vacation and visit and encourage pastors at the same time. Did this mean we weren't taking encouraging pastors "seriously." No. We were taking our vacation seriously.