Question #6: What is the impact of short-term missions on long-term missions?
by Dr. Timothy Tennent
Any church involved in missions should recognize that, in the long run, the real strength of our missionary efforts should be measured by our long-term commitments on the field. One of the most strategic and useful benefits of short-term missions is in the recruiting and raising up on long-term workers. It is very unusual today for someone to commit themselves to becoming a missionary without having been on a short-term missions trip. Therefore, having a short-term missions program is a vital part of any long-term strategy.
However, some churches have failed to see the vital connection between short-term and long-term missions. I have even seen some churches who boast of their growing missionary budget but, upon close examination, their missions budget reflects an increasing emphasis on sending short-term teams at the expense of their support of long-term workers. This, in my view, is a myopic and tragic development which needs to be addressed. Churches should be more intentional about how their short-term missions trips connect with long-term missions commitments. The former should always serve and support the latter. When this gets out of balance, we may actually be undermining the long term goal of the church which is to plant and nurture viable, self-supporting, self-governing and self-replicating churches around the world.
None of these "dangerous" questions are intended to discourage or to downplay the vital role of short-term missions in the church. I am a strong supporter of short-term missions and believe that they should be an important part of a church's global outreach. Nevertheless, reflecting on these questions can help local churches build a smarter short-term missions program and stimulate a more mature outreach which, in the long term, will assist the growth and development of churches around the world.
Matt: So, now that we have all 6 dangerous questions about STM on the table, are you pro-STM or anti-STM? Maybe a better question is, will you at least consider the 6 questions before planning your next STM venture? Are there any more questions that should be asked?