Short-Term Missions (again)

There’s been a lot of talk about short-term missions (STM) lately. Most of it is well grounded and theoretical but not super practical. I really want to dive into why STM are the way they are and what we can do about it. This is incredibly hard to do because there are so many STM organizations and so many different groups of people that want to do something about it.

It would be one long (and hard to read) post if I tried to answer all of that at once. Instead, I’m going to do a series of posts looking at STM from a bunch of different angles. Churches, organizations, groups, and individuals all look at STM in completely different ways. Just like community development work should be done holistically, so should developing a new definition of STM. I’ll start off with a few links to other useful resources that introduce different perspectives on STM.

Here’s a blog post I wrote so you can see my bias right off the bat (though I’ll try to keep it objective throughout the series).

Here’s a book I highly recommend about the subject. I’ll be doing a review on this book shortly.

Lastly, a blog post I’m not affiliated with that does a good job explaining the big picture of STM.

Some things I’ll address in this series of posts:

  • What does an individual need to know about STM?
  • What should you be on the look out for when searching for a good trip to go on?
  • What types of organizations can host an effective STM?
  • Why do STM have such a bad reputation?
  • What can someone do to be most prepared for a STM trip?
  • What are some basic dos and don’ts?
  • How to take and how not to take pictures on a STM trip.
  • What is our role in world missions and community development?

Just so you know: I will not say that you should not participate in any short term missions. I do not think that you should stop giving money. I still think STMs can be an incredible way to share life with people all around the world. It’s an opportunity that my grandparents certainly didn’t have and I’m appreciative that my generation can now do things like this. That said, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. We must do everything we can to make sure STM are helping who we say they are meant to help.

I’ll update this post with links to each new post in this series so you can always come back to it for reference. This is such a big topic, I’d love to get a discussion going. Email goodmudblog [at] if you’re interested in something like that and I’ll help set up a google hangout or a Skype session.


2 thoughts on “Short-Term Missions (again)

  1. STM trips are hard. They take a lot of money, and the even the so called fun VBS times could be more fun without a translator, and singing their own sons. I like STM for the people going. Once you see poverty, you will be changed and burdened to pray for people. But I don’t think the locals generally speaking get as much out of the trip.

  2. I totally agree. If I had never gone on a short-term trip, I never would have connected to the world of missions. There has to be a way for us to engage in short-term trips without hurting the communities we say we are going to help.

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