Keeping mission vision alive and growing A quarterly publication of Mission Data International

Beyond Experience

Aiming for Lasting Change

“This trip has changed my life forever!” says many a mission-tripper on the way to the airport, bus, or train. Such “exit interviews” suggest that short-term missions are a great investment. And doesn’t just about everybody who goes long-term point to a short-term experience as a turning point or stepping stone on their way to the field?

Unfortunately, such data doesn’t tell the whole story. Six months later, that short-termer may find she’s forgotten the names of those she promised to pray for; another has left by the side of the road his resolutions to live differently. And most of those who go short-term never end up going long-term. So, even big fans of short-term missions like us recognize the difficulty in assessing the short-term mission movement, particularly in light of the diversity of sending groups, stated goals, and actual practices.

» See also: Research and Statistics: Where can I find data and statistics about short-term missions and their impact?

The good news is that any mission trip, missionary presentation, mission course, or mobilization effort can draw on the power of something much less ephemeral than providing an emotional experience, powerful as experiences can be. When we talk about missions, let’s point people beyond missions to a whole life mission mindset. What would that look like?

  • Build your training or presentation on a foundation of scripture and prayer.
  • Don’t neglect debrief, next steps, and follow-though.
  • Call people to make their whole lives (not just two weeks or two months) available to God and his global purposes, according to the ways he has shaped them and wherever and however he may lead them.

» See also: Secrets to a Life-Changing Short-Term Mission Trip: Have You Prepared Your Heart?

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