Many people including Christians are not fully convinced about the benefits short-term mission trips can give. This is because not all of them were able to give positive results especially to the missionaries as well as their sponsoring church and members.
Generally all short missions including youth mission trip opportunities are intended for a good purpose. The success of a mission actually depends on how the organizers planned it and the way the missionaries execute it. If these are done well, you can always expect a positive outcome from a short mission.
The very first thing you need to consider when engaging in mission trips is to plan them carefully. Christian mission, whether it is successful or gone the other way, obviously has an impact on those who go as well as the people on the receiving end – the local population, and the long-term missionaries who serve as hosts.
Basing on general observations, a majority of feedback about short-term missions put emphasis on its negative impact on the receiving end. Some of these negative comments include dependency, projects that don’t serve their purpose, and exhausted missionary hosts. This is not the intended end-result of Christian missions. There are certain factors that help to make a mission successful. It should be well-planned, properly coordinated by and among the organizers and goers, adequately prepared and armed with divine guidance through prayers. In order to avoid common problems, you may consider these factors:
1. Think small.
A mission with a band of 20 or more people might be too big for the local missionary-host. It also needs a lot of complicated work like organizing buses, finding lodging places, and mass feeding. A group of three to six may be able to do better because a small group would be easier to manage, easier for locals to remember and identify, and it doesn’t require complex logistics planning. Of course, there are missions that require larger groups, but before embarking on them, an organizer must make sure that it is not overkill.
2. Give relationships more weight than projects.
It is good to construct buildings because it allows missionaries to produce something tangible. Missionaries have constructed a lot of buildings, but many of them are now empty. It’s not bad to focus on a project, but building relationships with local people will fare better because it creates a lasting impression in their hearts. Buildings can be built at a later time. Besides, the locals can do it. It is far better to build solid relationships with locals first.
3. Be wary of unhealthy dependency as a possible result.
Missions are intended to extend help in the name of God. But as a short-term missionary, you must be aware that it can create a sense of dependency on the locals. Charity can be toxic when done without careful planning. You don’t have to solve every problem with wads of money.
4. Take time to prepare.
If you are not equipped with cross-cultural training before a trip, you are not actually prepared to go. If you are planning to join a short-term Christian mission or a family mission trip abroad, you should go through an appropriate training as this will make you useful to your team. Take time to understand the culture of your destined country. Look for ways to make locals understand the grace of God without offending them in the process.
These are not all, but these ideas can do well to help a mission succeed. Again, missions are designed for a good purpose. As part of the mission, organizers should plan it strategically. Missionaries should have the heart to serve and build relationships in the name of God. This can help to make the plan work and bring the mission to success.
Lori is a corporate consultant whose experience and area of expertise are on fund administration, debt collection, wealth management and personnel administration. He likes to share his insights about business corporate solutions, sustainability & management, and a lot of human interest stories including health, wellness and self-improvement .