STMs an Aspect of the Gospel

By May 2, 2007

International (MNN) — Today we look at the positive aspects of short-term missions. 

An increase in the accessibility of travel has made short-term missions a way to see the world while spreading Christ's love. Mission work can be done more frequently and in more places. "If you compare (relative to what the economy is) what it costs to go to the other side of the world today compared to 15-20 years ago, its much more possible to do that today," said Dave Livermore, author of Serving With Eyes Wide-Open: Doing Short-term Missions with Cultural Intelligence.

More and more high school students are going on trips with their youth groups. "Quite frankly, many of the critiques I share in my book are as much or more true of adults than they are of high school students. I think that today's generation of high school students already tend to have a consciousness that's concerned about issues of injustice in the world and are much more globally aware than my generation when we went through high school," said Livermore. 

Some have asked what qualifies a true mission trip. Does it require solely sharing the Gospel?  Does manual labor or serving in an orphanage constitute a mission trip? "I certainly think mission is broader than just sharing a salvation message to people on the streets of Mexico, though that's obviously included in it. It's an incomplete Gospel without the spoken truth of the Gospel," said Livermore. "But I do think that there are aspects of building a home, of washing the stumps of lepers who've never been touched before, or going to the city dump and feeding kids. I think these are expressions of the Gospel."

These types of outreaches are important and necessary if they are a part of the long-term missionaries' work in the area. "How are they working with the people who long-term are in that community?" said Livermore. 

"If short-term missions is done with a short-term view, there's little effectiveness we can expect out of it. But when it takes on a long-term perspective, it's a way to begin to improve the effectiveness of what we do," said Livermore.

Lately, the training of short-term missionaries has improved. "Most short-term groups do some kind of training now, and its kind of all across the board," said Livermore. This may include anything from a packing list, to an itinerary, to the task they will be doing, and finally the cultural preparation. Training is important "as long as we realize that it doesn't somehow make us experts," says Livermore. 

Another good thing about short-term missions is the ability to get hands-on experience in the places we hear about on the news. "It allows us not just solely to listen to the mass media about what's going on," said Livermore.

Tomorrow we will look at the negative aspects of short-term missions.

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