Is STM a waste of money, time, and human resources?

Recent discussions questioning the validity and effectiveness of short-term missions have centered on issues such as:

Is STM a wise stewardship of funds that could be used in other ways?

How distinctly Gospel-driven are many of the humanitarian project trips that we increasingly send? Are0 churches truly being planted because of such trips? One missions pastor in Indianapolis is receiving an increasing number of short-term applications for funds, for trips with secular organizations that have no intentions of presenting the Gospel.

Would it be more effective and efficient to send short-term trips to cross-cultural sites in the US?

Here are but a few articles discussing the pros and cons of short-term missions:

Short-Term Missions: Is the Price Tag Worth It?

Are Short-Term Missions Trips Worth The Trouble?

Re-Thinking the $3,000 Missions Trip

Short-Term Missions: Are They Worth The Cost?

In Praise of Short-Term Missions

Churches Re-Tool Mission Trips

Short-term missions trips can be either a waste or an effective use of money, time, and human resources. The answer depends upon several factors.

  • Does the project have clear goals? Do all parties involved understand the purposes of the trip and how they will be accomplished?
  • Are the right people participating? Are field missionaries receiving the team eager to do so? Does the team have a qualified leader? Are team members qualified and eager to learn and serve, or are they anticipating a vacation? Do the team’s skills match the needs of the field?
  • Will the sending church, short-term team, mission agency and field all benefit from the trip?
  • Will the team receive appropriate training, before, during and after the trip?
  • Will the trip avoid typical pitfalls such as creating financial dependence? Assuming roles that nationals can, should or need to play?
  • While anticipated results depend on God, do they align with God’s heart as revealed in scripture? 
  • Is the trip a good stewardship of funds? Or might giving the cost of the trip to the field be a greater benefit?

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Maximum Impact Short-Term Mission: The God-Commanded Repetitive Deployment of Swift, Temporary Non-Professional Missionaries