There is currently unprecedented growth and enthusiasm for short-term mission trips and programs. The appeal of these trips and their benefits to those going is clear. However, the benefits to those hosting these groups are not always as clear and short-term trips are not without their critics,
Some people see short-term trips as counterproductive – often wasting the time and resources of the host missionary or group and nothing more than glorified sightseeing trips. Therefore, many people want to understand better what can be done to make a short-term mission trip effective and successful.
The following Seven principles for effective short-term mission embody many of the features one can find Jesus’ earthly ministry.
1. Prayerful Seek A Clear Purpose and Strategy
It is so important that a group regularly prays for guidance and discernment before going on any trip. Groups who prayerfully seek God’s direction will find their trips more fruitful and productive and their team more flexible and open to unplanned ministry opportunities that present themselves on the trip.
Whether the trips will focus on Scripture and literature distribution, assist in building construction for a local church, or provide medical and educational service to the host missionary or organization, short-term trips that are prayerfully and carefully thought through can be powerful in their impact.
2. Seek Competent Leaders With Good Character
It cannot be overemphasized that having team leaders who are mature and have a godly character with the gifts, abilities, and experience to guide a cross-cultural team are critical to the success of any short-term mission program.
Leaders must be disciplined and thoughtful because trips are often trying and difficult for people going. Matures leaders with good character can serve as examples when the going gets rough.
3. Have A Student’s Heart
Short-term mission work involves making a commitment to learning. Learning how to communicate the gospel in the right context for the culture you will be entering. Learning to walk more closely and hear more clearly the Spirit’s leading in your life.
It means seeking out and learning from experienced missionaries and other nationals about the people you will serve and the places you will visit. To be truly effective you must be ready and willing to learning as much as possible, before you go, about the language, culture, and history, of the countries you’ll visit and the local church, and missionaries you’ll serve.