When you ask people to describe their view of short-term missions some will answer that they a waste of time and resources, are just an excuse for culturally insensitive ill-informed “tourists” to see the world.
For many others, though the responses are only positive. They view them as life-changing experiences, and opportunities to serve God in cross-cultural settings while gaining a broader worldview.
That said, even with the differing views, there is no doubt that under the right conditions it is definitely worth the effort and expense.
What Do Long-Term Missionaries Think?
Not long go a well-respected missionary organization serving Latin America conducted an informal survey of their career missionaries to see how much influence and impact short-term missions have been in their lives. The results showed clearly the positive impact short-term missions had on a large majority of those responding. In fact, many said they were involved in missions today because of a positive short-term experience.
Also of note in the survey was that those who claimed no influence or impact from short-term missions were almost all over 50 years old, while those responding positively were generally younger with a large majority of them under the age of 50.
Numbers like these demonstrate that exposure to short-term missions experiences often has a profound effect on young people inclined to consider missionary service.
The Positives and Negatives Of Short-term Missions
It’s important to note that there are many factors to consider when looking at the value of short-term mission work, including the length of service, the type of ministry involved, and the training required.
Some programs are truly glorified vacations or summer camps for younger people with little or no experience and training, while others send trained medical or construction professionals to meet very specific needs.
However, even the “vacation” style outings can plant the seeds of service in a young person venturing out for the first time.
Short-Term: The Negatives