Short-term missions assuredly has both pros and cons. Your experience will be greatly determined by making careful choices in light of the following:
- STM helps people to make intelligent decisions about future service, including place of service, mission agency, field leaders and type of ministry.
- STM can accomplish tasks that help long-term teams achieve even greater effectiveness. For example, one missionary business in the Middle East claimed a unique niche by providing the only business consultation and English training by Americans. Churches sent seasoned business people to do ten days of business training, which earned clients and kept the team on the field.
- STM provides a laboratory for observing potential future missionaries in action.
- The vast majority of missionaries who go to the field long-term today have first gone on an STM. STM’s are an invaluable recruiting tool.
- STM can cost significant money that might be better used to employ nationals or be used by the team on the field.
- STM participants, if immature or untrained, can make mistakes that destroy trust and set back the long-termers’ progress.
- STM trips can create dependency. For example, one US denomination offers to send men’s teams to roof newly built churches in an African country. Churches in this country no longer finish their churches.
- STM’ers can believe that an occasional trip completes their contribution to missions.