Ask TEAM: What’s the Point of Short-Term Mission Trips?

Teens stand in a circle around a horse at Rancho el Camino, where many short-term missionaries serve
There are more opportunities than ever before to serve in short-term missions. But before you go, you need to know the purpose.

Short-term mission trips are often misunderstood to be humanitarian vacations. You get to go somewhere exotic, feel good helping people and come home with some good stories.

The focus is all very … well, short-term.

But the point of short-term mission trips is to create long-term outcomes. They should shape how the short-termer understands God’s mission and their place in it. They should provide personal growth. They should provide aid to long-term workers. And they should help make a lasting impact on the community visited.

Let’s dive into each of these advantages to short-term mission trips done well:

1. Short-Term Mission Trips Help You Understand God’s Mission

It’s easy to think of God’s plan simply in terms of what He does for us as individuals. Sure, we know there’s something bigger going on, but that’s easily forgotten in our day-to-day lives.

Short-term mission trips remind us that God is at work in all of the world. They let us see more of the things that stir His heart. They let us see the spiritual needs of other nations. This perspective can reshape the way we live our lives, how we pray and how we worship.

If you’re already considering long-term missions, a short-term trip can be a valuable tool for preparation. You’ll be exposed to various types of ministry, helping you see where you might fit on the mission field. If you go with TEAM, you’ll get to see missionaries in their daily lives and ask them questions. You’ll also get an introduction to navigating a new culture.

2. Short-Term Mission Trips Help Us Grow Personally

We grow the most when we are out of our comfort zones, and short-term trips are a great opportunity for this. Short-term mission trips require you to be flexible, humble, patient and gracious, while learning to navigate a new place and a new culture.

Although personal growth is not the purpose of a short-term mission trip, it is an undeniable benefit. Stepping outside your everyday life can help you see aspects of it more clearly. Plus, you’ll be serving alongside seasoned missionaries, who have unique perspectives and wisdom to share.

Are you ready to find your place on the mission field? Click here to learn how you can serve with TEAM!

3. Short-Term Missions Trips are a Chance to Serve Long-Term Workers

Long-term missionaries put in a ton of work to make short-term trips happen. They have to organize housing, in-country transportation, ministry assignments and a host of other logistics. And that’s all before you even arrive.

But as much work as it takes to get you there, your presence can be a true gift. Short-term trips are a great opportunity to show missionary families you care about them and their work. Consider offering to babysit so the parents can have a date night. Or bring over some comforting American snacks the missionaries might not be able to get in their host country.  No matter how you do it, make sure that you are using your time on a short-term trip to serve the people hosting you.

4. Short-Term Mission Trips Can Have a Long-Term Impact

Sometimes the work you do on a short-term trip can last even longer than the trip itself. In Japan, long-term missionaries had a vision for a new ministry, but they didn’t have the time or financial resources to renovate a necessary building. Thankfully, a group of short-termers volunteered their efforts. Today, that ministry has blossomed into a vibrant church.

When you go on a TEAM mission trip, we don’t just create a short-term project to keep you busy. We talk with missionaries on the field to find out what their needs are and identify areas where short-term workers can help. You can be assured that your labor will serve a significant purpose and, Lord willing, impact people for years to come.

Your Attitude is Key

Missionary leads an exercise class through a short-term mission program

Success on a short-term mission trip starts before you leave home. Start developing a teachable, flexible heart now, and begin learning about the culture that will host you.

Now, let’s get real. In order for short-term mission trips to be beneficial, it’s important to keep the right perspective.

Remember, the trip is not about you and what you can do. It’s about God and what He can do. You are there to serve. And in order to serve well, you need to prepare well.

Before you go, learn about the culture, and learn a few key words and phrases in the local language. Before and during the trip, try to look at different situations that come up as opportunities for learning — learning about God, learning about people, learning about yourself.

Don’t try to take charge and impose your own thoughts and ideas onto the situation. Go with a heart to serve, and watch as God works to change locals, long-term missionaries — and yourself!

Now that you know why short-term mission trips are a powerful tool for the kingdom, what’s your next step? Discover how to choose the right short-term mission trip!

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TEAM - The Evangelical Alliance Mission

TEAM partners with the Global Church in sending disciples who make disciples and establish missional reproducing churches to the glory of God.

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