Question #2: What is the cost of short-term missions?
by Dr. Timothy Tennent
It doesn't take too long looking at church missionary budgets to realize that short-term missions is an expensive endeavor. It is not unusual for the cost of a short-term missionary going overseas for two weeks to spend more than $2,000 for airline tickets, food, lodging, shots, on-field transportation and other costs associated with the trip. That same $2,000 might, in contrast, be sufficient to fund a full time national church planter for an entire year or fund other important projects. As with any allocation of funds, we should be very sober minded about the nature of the investment. On balance, I think the investment is often worth it, but it does need to be appropriately weighed. Indeed, I do not support the position that the best way North Americans can serve the global church is by staying home and writing cheques and letting others get their hands dirty with the hard task of cross-cultural witness. There are well known organizations that raise money in the West based on this premise. This is not my position. One of the real advantages of short-term missions is that we are relocating people to another part of the world who can experience first hand the challenges and hardships of missionary service. I see no Biblical precedent for a church called only to send their "e-mails and dollars" and not their "sons and daughters". The Great Commission is about thrusting forth laborers, not just funding. Nevertheless, we must be cognizant of the costs involved and make certain that our investments are, on balance, wise ones. A more hopeful point is that most of the money raised by short-term missionaries would, in the absence of the person going on a short-term trip, not be available for some of these other needs on the field. However, a church must set strict guidelines on how much money flows into short term projects as compared with other cross-cultural commitments.
We've talked about this before in a post here called: "another one of those guilt videos".