In Part III of our four-part series on short-term missions, we look at the benefits for the Global North sending church. In general, short-term involvement can be a game-changer for Western churches seeking the development of congregants. It broadens perspective and can challenge people’s world view as few other things can.
The following are four of the positive outcomes on sending churches as we continue evaluating both the good and the bad of short-term missions.
1) Church member engagement with overseas partners and projects.
Many times church missions pastors or missions boards have a lot of contact with and involvement in the work of its overseas missions partners. This can lend itself to strategic development of the overseas ministry and the sending church’s missions program. However, many times, the involvement stops there. Others in the church fail to have the opportunity to learn and grow through intentional interaction with global partners. Short-term missions trips change all that. These experiences allow church members to actively engage with projects that the church supports. They can build relationships, improve their prayer life, and lend their gifts and abilities to a ministry in need. Overall, the missions program of the sending church can engage more of its members at a deeper level. This produces transformation in the lives of everyone involved.
2) Creates ownership of overseas programming among church members.
Similar to the above, the opportunity for Global North church members to be involved creates ownership in all the sending church is doing abroad. It gives them skin in the game, and they desire to be personally invested both in time and financing. They begin to rightly believe that the success of the partnership and God’s work overseas relies on their involvement. This produces good results both overseas in the project and in the sending church.
3) Gives the church a broader perspective.
Many times, churches in the Global North succumb to the temptation to focus primarily on themselves and their own ministries. Outreach, whether it is overseas or locally, helps break down those barriers. It gives the sending church a broader, global perspective that challenges their world view. Members of short-term teams begin to ask questions about further involvement, partnerships, and expanding the ministries of their church. Those who have had an overseas experience begin to think more about others and how they can build God’s Kingdom. Congregations can create goals and objectives for overseas mission work.
4) Deeper personal involvement locally.
Often, people who have been involved with short-term missions work return home and want to get more involved in local ministries. Their worldviews have been challenged, their comfort zones expanded, and their knowledge of their gifts and abilities has been heightened. They have more ownership in the local church, want to be involved as leaders, and enjoy being a part of the inner circle that develops goals and sets expectations for the local body. Short-term missions experiences produce these things in the lives of church members. It stretches them beyond their personal boundaries into a place where God can use them. Their perspectives have been forever changed, and they become more engaged on every level.
Yes, it’s true. Short-term missions has many benefits to all those who experience it. But are there any drawbacks? Part IV in this series looks at the potential pitfalls of short-term missions and the keys to overcoming them.