A friend of mine referred me today to an article on Christianity Today's Web Site about the effectiveness and stewardship of Short Term Missions. After reading the brief post, I sent this on to JD, my good ole buddy that continually scans CT Online:
One thing that is missing in the dialogue I read (I did not read the whole study) is this. Certainly, some sorts of missions efforts are ineffective, inefficient, and probably a not a good use of Kingdom time. But the other thing missing is that these issues cannot be a matter of “bottom line” thinking. The mutual encouragement, advancement of ministry, encouragement of laborers near and far are not going to be measured merely by dollar signs. in my opinion the best short term trips will:
- Truly serve the church in another nation, helping it with its objectives and ministry efforts which God is leading on the ground.
- Will be a longer term partnership that guides the stewardship efforts rather than just "shooting people out" for a "missions experience"
- It will be mutully edifying, spiritually encouraging, and helpful for the mission of both partner churches involved.
If it cannot be done well it can be a waste of time, effort, etc. But done with prayer, care and strategic patience, STM can be effective. Another friend of mine is convinced that the best short term stuff will be equipping oriented – helping in-country leaders prepare and receive training to lead their people. Very good insight in my opinion. Now there is a place for "frontier missions" to places with little or no gospel witness, which will be of a different species - my comments here are but for "partnered short term missions" in places where there is a least some minimal gospel missions.