4 Reasons Why Short Term Missions is Worth the Cost

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In the next few months, we’ll likely see another summer surge of short term mission trips.

I think that’s a good thing. I’ve even got some money where my mouth is.

So, why would I, or should you give your hard earned money to a short term mission trip?

4 Reasons Why I Support Short Term Missions

1. It positively impacts the short term missionary.

I can’t say for certain, but one of the biggest reasons why I decided to become a missionary was because of the four months I spent in Papua New Guinea (PNG) back in 1996.

At that time, I had just graduated high school and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I grew up. Since I was uncertain about my future, I decided that, rather than rushing into college, I would take a year off. During that year, I attended a three month para-missionary training program in Memphis, Tennessee, and then I went to PNG.

I came back from that trip with a clear understanding of the importance and value of missionary work. Most importantly, I came back with a heart for missions.

When I came in 1996, I came with four other young people. I’m the only one who became a full-time missionary, but the others have a heart for missions and are doing what they can to support missionary efforts in their home churches.

2. It is an encouragement to local Christians.

Here in Alotau, we’ve had a half dozen individuals or teams spend anywhere from two weeks to a year working as short term missionaries.

The Christians still tell stories about the different ones they met. They remember certain sayings and characteristics that have positively impacted their spiritual lives.

They remember those folks with smiles.

3. Opens short term missionary’s eyes to the affluence in their home country.

PNG is a developing nation. As we’ve visited with short term missionaries, this is a topic they often talk about, think about, and want to process.

They ask questions about the standard of living, sanitation, entertainment programs, school fees, and eating habits.

Through the experience, their hearts are pierced, and they discover a motivation to increase their role in issues of hunger, poverty, and sickness.

4. Short term missionaries get positive results.

As a fulltime missionary, there are people with whom I find it hard to connect. Perhaps it is just a personality difference, but I find it difficult to get on the same wavelength with some people.

But then a short term missionary can come along and build a solid relationship with that person.

The short term missionary encourages that person in their area of struggle or weakness, and for a long time we start to see incremental changes in a person’s life. Perhaps this will be fully recognized in a rededication of a life to Christ, and at other times, it might be someone finally deciding to die to the old self and be buried in the waters of baptism so that he can be raised to a new life.

Iron Sharpens Iron

The fellowship, stories, and Bible studies that people experience together as national and visitor are powerful. I don’t know of a single short term missionary who was unaffected by his or her trip. Nor do I know of a national individual who spent a substantial amount of time who was not changed by the experience.

The Short Term Missions Handbook

If you know someone who is going on a short term mission trip, I’d encourage you to check out the book my wife, Jeri, and I co-authored – The Short Term Missions Handbook.

The book was recently reviewed by Jason Whaley for Missio Dei.

Since it’s been a couple of years since we wrote the book, I had to go back and read it to get some context to the review. I think it was a fair and balanced review. There are times when I’m too blunt (like saying short term missionaries don’t know anything – ouch!). Still, as I read back through the book, I was amazed at how practical it is. The book covers everything from fundraising, to staying healthy, to exchanging foreign currency.

If you know of anyone who is thinking about a short term mission trip, encourage then to do it. I bet it will change lives.


  1. says

    Craig, I can’t agree more. My first venture into missions was a 2 week trip to an orphanage in Brazil, and my life hasn’t been the same since. That eventually led to my 14 months in Paraguay, and I relished the times when people came to visit. My eyes were opened to a way of life that most people in “developed” nations only hear about, and I always encourage others to have theirs opened as well.

    I think you’re right: I don’t think a person can go on even a short term mission trip without it being a life-changing experience.


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