USA (MNN) — Thousands of teens will participate in short-term mission trips in the next few weeks, and religion scholars estimate that about 3 million 13- to 17-year-old young Christians nationwide will serve on mission teams this year.
Youth mission trips have only become common in the last 10 to 20 years. While some are encouraged by this growing phenomenon, others question the true impact of these trips. Lakewood Church youth pastor Tom Elmore, who will lead a group of about 50 to Honduras, said, "That's where they get their first taste" of evangelism and being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Some reports indicate that more than 65 percent of all full-time missionaries participated in a short-term mission trip before they felt God's call on their life.
In contrast, Dr. David Livermore of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and author of the book Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence, says these trips have become a rite of passage, benefiting team members more than the community they're supposed to be serving.
Some organizations don't allow young people to participate in short-term missions because in many situations, they hurt work with bad behavior and poor testimonies while they're working.
No matter how you feel about short-term missions, pray that God will use these opportunities to ignite the fire of missions in the young people to travel overseas this summer.