What Are Your Thoughts on Short-Term Missions?

Question from a reader:

I've spoken to many long-term missionaries who have surprised me with their opinion about the effectiveness of short-term missions.  We spend a tremendous amount of money on “missionary tourism” in America, often to the detriment of long-term support.  What are your thoughts on short-term missions?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

The short-term thing is really tough. I agree that for some it can be just a fun time, but for others it builds a life-long respect for and interest in foreign missions, reflected in sending and supporting and praying. It’s very hard to put a price tag on that. To me, the balance is not eliminating short-term missions, but being sure it is strategic, and that those going make financial sacrifices themselves, not just rely on everyone else to pay their way, so it’s a free international jaunt with fun friends. We have found that most of our long-term missionaries at our church started as short-termers. The expense is enormous, but on the other hand, would people actually give that same money to long-term missions or would they find other ways to spend it on themselves? A difficult issue.

Here are some good articles that do not blindly, but intelligently point out the good in short-term missions, while at the same time acknowledging the need to recognize their limitations and maximize their effectiveness:

Do Short Term Missions Work?

The Place of Short-Term Missions

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries