Podcast Episode #002

Do short term missions do more harm than good?

There’s a growing debate these days in the American church and you might be surprised what it’s over. Churches everywhere are debating whether or not short term missions trips are doing more harm than good.

You might be surprised that I actually think this is a great question and an important debate.

Joins us for this conversation and for future podcasts, we would love to answer YOUR questions. If you have a question you can call us at 218-248-7383 or leave a comment on this post.

Any questions or topics you would like to hear us talk about?

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11 Responses to “Podcast Episode #002”

  1. Aaron J says:

    I think STM’s can be negative for the people they are designed to help. Does that mean they always are? By no means. One HUGE benefit that often gets forgotten in this discussion is the benefit to the people that go. Going on a STM trip WILL change your life and the way you see the world. I’ve seen students come home and realize that God’s calling them to be a missionary. Adults will come back with a new-found energy to be involved in a cause. It changes people.
    I don’t think they do more harm than good at all. When planned properly, both parties (the sender and receiver) stand to benefit when sincere thought is put into it. It’s the “Hero” mentality that is the problem: “We’re going to go ____ and help the _____ people who desperately need our help.” While true, HOW you help them is more important than just going and handing stuff out.

    • Jay says:

      I just came back from STM trip to Pine Ridge Reservation, SD. The Native Americans there refer to summer as “white van season” when all the churches arrive in their vans to minister. Two observations they shared with us concerning STM’s:

      1. Don’t bring answers to questions that aren’t even being asked.
      2. STM’s are more for those serving than those being served.

  2. Grant Parish says:

    I just read the book Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton and it is very convicting about the real reasons for short term mission trips. I see that in most every case the mission trip is about making the travelers feel good – not about really helping those visited.

    It takes too much time and effort for most churches/ministries to really get to know the people and find how to help them help themselves. It is easier just to have people come and paint a wall or dig a well rather than work with locals to train them to do for themselves so we create a dependent culture.

  3. Thaddeus Anderson says:

    More often than not, mission trips don’t depict reality. Groups travel around in a bubble void of any substance. People come back thinking they’ve seen real-life in said place. But in reality, it’s a very sheltered view. There are few things that have the power to change people more than exposure to other ways of life, especially internationally. But grasping this can be elusive when on a STM.

  4. Emily Morse says:

    There is a great TED talk about recognizing and admitting failures in service and mission projects as a step in fixing them: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/david_damberger_what_happens_when_an_ngo_admits_failure.html

  5. Lisa Syler says:

    In preparation for leading a mission team to Uganda this summer, I have read “When Helping Hurts”, which should be a must read for anyone going on long and short term mission trips! Many times our “helping” is hurting, though we do so in good conscious!

    • Vicki says:

      Love your heart and obedience to reach the nations, Pete!! We are so grateful to you for your continued passion for God’s people locally and globally. Short-term mission trips are a great way to connect God’s people globally for sure. Having a great foundation and training for communicating and serving cross culturally is essential. Over the years, I’ve discovered how essential it is to come alongside of people serving in their own cultures. To understand the vision that God has laid on their heart for how He desires to redeem, renew, and restore their communities and to dialog with them in regards to how North American missionaries or a North American team can come to help and not hurt. To come and not be their hope but to point them to our Great Hope. When done well, it is a perfect picture of mutual transformation, where God’s people see Him through each other as they serve alongside of each other.

  6. Scott Savage says:

    I served in East Asia for 6 weeks in 2005 and in sub-Saharan Africa for 2 1/2 weeks in 2011. The impact of our time there was long-lasting because of those we partnered with in each experience. We served alongside those who had spent and would go on spend years in that place. We made a short-term investment into their long-term mission. I’m a firm believer in the equipping and investing that can take place. I do know that the logistics and support for a group of Westerners to arrive and move around can be exhausting on the hosts. Bottom line – it all comes down to who stays when the Westerners go home and what happens after that. That’s why I am a parter of Northrise University (www.northrise.org) in Ndola, Zambia, where I am a part of seeing transformation take place through education.

  7. Beth says:

    Please somebody come to visit me to do a short term mission!

    I think you underestimate how happy these Pastors are when they hear Cross Point is stopping by.

  8. Rob says:

    I’m an MK (Missionary Kid). Growing up on the mission field, I saw several teams come and go and several long-term missionaries come and go. The truth is (and it’s not a pleasant one) is that some missionaries are fairly useless–an utter waste of the support dollars they raised. On the flip side, some missionaries are incredible and are worth every penny sent to them.

    It’s risky giving to missions, whether it’s for short-term or long-term. What we have to remember is that some of the money will go to incredibly effective ministry and some of the money will be wasted. God calls who He called–both giver and goer. Don’t give less just because it’s risky. Don’t avoid giving to short-term just because it’s risky. If you feel the nudge at your heart to give, then give.

  9. JO says:

    Short-term workers are very helpful to us in our work while they are here and when they go back. Those that come to serve return to their home churches with a broadened world view and a greater desire to continue to share with those who do not know Jesus Christ. The laborers are few, so it is great that more people can join in and are mobilized to continue to share Christ.

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