There’s Nothing Short About Short-Term Missions
Are our short-term “missions” trips really helping the cause of missions?
By “missions,” I mean the process of Christians from reached people groups sharing the gospel with unreached people groups (UPG), implying that languages must be learned and cultures must be understood. Language acquisition and cultural understanding take years, perhaps even decades — not days.
This definition implies at the outset that missions is most effectively carried out by long-term missionaries.
By “short-term missions (STM) trip,” I mean a visit to a foreign country for the sake of missions, typically lasting no more than two or three weeks. I use that definition not because it’s sensible but because it’s been the description shared most widely in the church since the late 20th century. By the definition of missions above, though, “short-term” missions doesn’t actually exist — languages cannot be learned and cultures cannot be understood in a three-week visit. This…