Posted by: Mark | July 13, 2011

Short-term missions?

I have recently been reading a few posts (which started here and continued here and here) from a missionary lady in Central America on the topic of short term missions. Now, I will state that I am a fan, “in theory”, of missions (duh!) no matter how long they be. The reason for the “in theory” is that I think they can be bad and good from my viewpoint. I have went on short-term missions myself and feel they have affected me positively and hopefully blessed those I have been with. But I have also realised in my life that this is not always the case.

However, let me reverse up a little and share my opinion a little before making my point.

I am of the opinion that all people, if they are able, should travel outside their current context. It is the best education they will receive in their lifetime and will force them, among other things, to decide what is truly morally correct and what is cultural. It will also help them to realise that God is really inventive and there are a lot of different but right things out there. It is hugely educational and it is also often a development for our compassionate side, especially if we travel outside our own economic world to lesser developed nations.

This opinion, and experience, leads me to the conclusion that others have come to that short-term missions tend to benefit the goer rather than the “goed to”. However, being in missions for what can probably now be described as longer than short term, I am not sure this changes. The bible does say after all that it is better to give than to receive.

My reason for writing here though is not to agree or disagree with the points raised on the above blog but more to ask one question. Where is the will, desire and commands of God in people’s opinions of short-term missions?

All of the responses and opinions I hear start with I think, instead of God thinks. Is this the way it should be? Is it possible for us to see no good in a given thing but a sovereign almighty God to have it in His plan for ultimate good? And if this is possible how then do we determine what short-term missions are good and we should be a part of? What if it is God’s will for someone to go somewhere at a huge cost for a really short time to seemingly do no identifiable good just so something even greater can happen? I guess this is more of a question than an answer. I have opinions on this, of course as I am me, but I want to just leave this as a question for now as I mull over these thoughts:)



  1. I am working in the Czech Republic with Word To All International. Short-Term missions are very important for the work here. We are doing different types of outreach with camps, English classes, etc. Short-term workers from N.America are usually native speakers of English that have a passion for sharing Christ. When they serve here even for a short time they often return to their home churches and get involved in types of ministry that they had never dared to try before…

  2. these are great questions. i have a mental image of missions related to a photo of our twin daughters with (my) Mark making pancakes together when the girls were about 3 years old. their daddy invited them to help him in his work of cooking. and they accepted the call, doing whatever he asked them to do. pour. stir. crack the egg. stir some more. then run off to play. to me that’s kind of like short-term missions. God invites us to help Him in His work. we accept, and do what He tells us, but maybe not for the long-haul. now (at 15) our daughters come in the kitchen and just start flipping the pancakes for me, setting the table, pulling out condiments, and pouring juice. they help til the meal’s on the table. to me that’s more like full-time missions; my Father gives me more responsibility, and i commit to sticking with it for the long-term. but it’s all HIS work. everything that happens is His idea, for His purposes. He just lets me help. 🙂 i think the blogger might have missed the point. missions isn’t about me. it’s not even about the people i help. it’s about God and His glory.

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