Our pastor and his wife returned Sunday night from North Africa. He said it was a very busy trip, with early morning starts and late evening events, and travel to several cities. I have never questioned the value of them going; especially in a denomination that puts foreign missions high on the list of priorities.
On Tuesday night, a group of twelve from another church returned from Thailand, just before things started to go a little crazy over there. I actually know about half of the youth that were on this trip, and they are young people who I believe that God is going to use to do great things in the future. I’m sure this was a life changing event for them, and again, I don’t question the trip for a single minute.
Andy Stanley’s churches, Northpoint, Buckhead, and Billings Bridge are organizing something in the neighborhood of a hundred short-term missions excursions over the next twelve months, involving something like a thousand people. That’s a lot of trips.
Some people are critical of the whole short term missions thing, calling it “missions tourism.” Not having been, I can’t say, but Trevin Wax, who blogs at Kingdom People and knows a thing or two about missions, has an article called Are Short Term Missions Trips Worth The Trouble? He outlines three negatives and four positives, though I think his first and third negative are really the same point. Still, I’d recommend reading this, just to get you thinking.
Tim Guptill at Crosspoint Wesleyan Church in Fredericton, New Brunswick gives just positive reasons in Top 5 Reasons to Go on A Short Term Missions Trip.
But if you really want to shake things up a bit, you might want to read this article from The Wall Street Journal (yes that Wall Street Journal) called The Great Commission or Glorified Sightseeing? by Evan Sparks of the American Enterprise Institute.
Kent Shaeffer at Church Relevance condenses stats from a Barna Group report this October item, The Truth About Short Term Missions Trips.
At Deacon and Usher’s Weblog, the issue is put into dialogue form: Short Term Missions – The Real Truth (They do all their posts this way; I’ve just bookmarked this blog; you might want to check out some other content on it.)
We could keep going here, but this one from the Washington Post (yes that Washington Post – funny how this phenomenon is attracting so much media) couldn’t be left out. Churches Retool Missions Trips is a very comprehensive article.