Found some great resources at Round Trip Missions, a ministry of Christianity Today that’s helping the church rethink how we do short-term missions.  There is some great stuff here about the church’s philosophy and approach to short-term missions (an experience shared by nearly 2 million Americans every year!).  Short-term mission teams have been invaluable to our team in Athens, bringing in resources, creating missions’ advocates around the world, and even raising up new full-time teammates.  In fact, the thought of going into full-time ministry first came into my mind – and heart – while on a short-term mission trip to Jamaica with Chatham Christian Church in 1996 (or so).

I really enjoyed this interview with missiologist Paul Borthwick (author of How To Be A World-Class Christian, a must-read primer for missionaries, missions supporters, and every Christian on earth).   I copied a snippet below, or read the entire interview HERE.

How would you describe the present state of the short-term missions movement?

When I think about short-term missions, I recall a comment someone made about the People’s Republic of China: “Anything you say about China is true.” Well, almost anything you say about short-term missions is true, too. On the positive side, is it producing new missionaries? Yes, there are cases of that. Is it giving people a greater vision, and taking people across cultures into places they would never have gone on their own? Yes, absolutely.

But on the negative side, are there places where it’s doing cultural harm? Yes. Are there places where people are coming in with incredible cultural insensitivity and maybe undermining the long-term work that’s being done? Yes. So short-term missions is all over the place. It’s big, it’s untamed, and the results, I would say, are kind of random at the moment.

Other questions tackled in the article:

What’s the most common mistake that churches make in short-term missions?

What’s the best thing you have seen short-term teams accomplish?

If you could advise church leaders to do any one thing before a trip to prepare their teams for success, what would it be?

What sort of short-term projects have the greatest potential to serve the long-term needs of indigenous ministries?

What new global trends are likely to impact the way short-term missions is done in the future?

Can you describe what the short-term missions movement might look like 10 or 20 years from now?

How do Christians in the Global South view the short-term missions movement? What are their hopes for the movement’s future?

Not everyone can take a trip overseas. How can short-term teams bring some of the benefits of a missions trip—like an increased awareness of the developing world’s needs—back to their home congregations?

Have you been on a short-term mission trip?  How has it impacted your life… ministry… worldview?

2 thoughts on “Round Trip Missions

  1. Brett – Your blog today was timely. The class at my home church with which I am involved just returned from a pilgramage to Tijuana. I say ‘pilgramage’ because the trips we take are designed to offer us insight into what God is doing across his world. While what we saw in terms of human trafficking, orphans, and desolate poverty was overwhelming and disturbing, we came away with this sense of connection and hope because we were blessed by those who work there full-time pushing back the darkness with the light of their trust and faith in the Father. Whether in TJ or Athens or Ruwanda the same hope and light is at work. My classmates and I are now confronted with how to engage our own lifes with purpose in joining with you and others in His work. This blog and the connected article will help us do that. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Tom. Many blessings to your and your church group as you explore an ongoing connection with the ministry in Tijuana! Maintaining that relationship is hard work, but it’s worth it!

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