OK, obviously i'm a BIG short-term mission fan. i wouldn't be directing this network if i wasn't! i've been thinking lately that the question was NOT IF you should go on short-term mission trips, but that it was more about the HOW you go now.
not everyone shares my opinion. it would be a scary world if everyone did! i recently had the opportunity to teach a class on STM teams @ vanguard college in edmonton.
i showed the students an episode of "travel the road" (www.traveltheroad.com), a missionary reality show, to provoke a discussion about the need for flexibility and adaptability while on short-term mission trips. after the class ended, one of the young ladies approached me, very upset about the video. in her opinion, the short-term missionaries hadn't done "enough" (witnessing, disciple-making) to even warrant their trek that particular day/episode. another young man joined the discussion, offering his thots that it didn't matter what they accomplished, it was simply important that they went.
i decided to continue the discussion in class the following day. it turned into a heated debate! on one side, we had a group of people who believed that in going on STMs, if you can't stay around and make disciples, you shouldn't even bother going. the other side argued that it was important to just GO, obeying and fulfilling the Great Commission, even if it meant you made no disciples.
tough arguments. i can see the validity on both sides. how can you not go, just because you can't stay for months and disciple people? isn't it better that you give someone the opportunity to hear the Gospel? then again, are we actually disobeying the GC by not "making disciples" as Jesus commanded? maybe it's better to leave people with their own beliefs if you can't stay around to help them walk thru their new faith.
ultimately, when you're doing a STM trip, it is best to work through a church or missionary that can be there to follow-up and continue to teach those who make decisions for Christ. then at least you went, and someone else discipled. if it all gets done, does it matter who did it?
paul didn't think so, and said as much in 1 Corinthians 3:6 - "I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow."
sounds like everyone has a job to do. i'm OK with that! any thots?