A longtime staple of church youth groups, short-term missions took off in the 1950s, when Youth With a Mission (Loren Cunningham) and Operation Mobilization (George Verwer) began sending young Christians around the world to build houses, minister to the needy, and share the gospel in unchurched communities. Trips lasting a few days to a few weeks give lay Christians a taste of the life of a missionary, without needing as much financial support or the blessing of a sending denomination. More recently, missiologists, pastors, and career missionaries have criticized STMs for blinding churches to the needs in their local community, their financial burden, and their reported ineffectiveness at creating lasting change abroad. Others defend STMs for encouraging young Christians’ faith and putting them in touch with fellow believers worldwide.
- When Being Helped HurtsMy experience on the receiving end of a mission trip taught me you can’t force love on a community.
- Died: Teen Missions Founder Bob Bland, Who Put Young Missionaries Through Boot CampWith his Florida training program and international construction projects, he empowered young people who didn’t want to wait to do something for God.
- Is Your Trip Tourism or Missions?After years of debate, the line is blurrier than ever.
- Look Outside America for Fresh Insight on American EvangelicalsMelani McAlister’s new history aims to capture what the familiar political story leaves out.
- Nicaraguan Unrest Squashes Summer MissionsChurch teams cancel trips as protests limit access and security.
- A Shoplifter’s Search for GodI equated material possessions with happiness, until a high-school mission trip changed my thinking.
- The Most Dangerous Thing About Being a Missionary in a Hostile CountryIt all depends on how you understand ‘safety.’
- Sinister Tips for Mission TripsWhat the devil may be up to as churches sally forth.
- Black Churches' Missing MissionariesBlack churches are booming. Why they are not sending.
- How Can Short-Term Missions Best Advance God's Mission?Author Brian Howell says we should start with a robust reconciliation theology.