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Are short-term missions becoming faddish?

Are short-term missions becoming faddish? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is: YES. I estimate that 75% of STMs are done poorly (that is, not meeting many of the standards of excellence referred to below). Robert Priest estimates that as many as four million a year go on STMs. You do the …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Are short-term missions becoming faddish? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is: YES. I estimate that 75% of STMs are done poorly (that is, not meeting many of the standards of excellence referred to below). Robert Priest estimates that as many as four million a year go on STMs. You do the math on the waste there.

Those going are increasingly ill-prepared and what they do is of questionable value given the resources invested. Sadly, many participants are narcissistic, they have little cross-cultural perspective, and often their experience does little to advance the Kingdom.

I’m an advocate for STMs, but only if they’re done well. I run AIM, a mission agency that specializes in STMs. We’ve taken on the order of 70,000 people to the field over the years. I used to defend the movement against critics, but I’ve come to believe that it is time for the pendulum to swing in the other direction. Far more churches need to look at the STMs they’ve got scheduled and re-think their policies.

In the last three years, I’ve observed an interesting phenomenon at AIM. People are waiting longer and longer before they sign up for projects. It used to be that all of our summer signups happened before the end of the year. That gave most people a good half the year to prepare for their trip.

Now, about a third of all participants wait to sign up after the end of the year. This means that they are taking a more casual approach to preparing. The STM project is just one more thing to put on your calendar a week after you’ve gone to summer camp or Epcot.

Crazy stuff is being offered. Consider these examples:

  • A short-term missions cruise. A man called me proposing this. The idea was that at each new port, the cruisers/missioners would pour down the gangplank and distribute tracts to the locals.
  • A ministry sponsors a trip for pre-teens to Australia costing $3000!
  • Radio station-sponsored trips where participants aren’t screened.
  • High school class-sponsored trips (where no one was responsible for discipling participants).
  • Women’s project to China where a major attraction for going is the shopping.
  • Drama or sports projects to Europe where a major attraction is the sight-seeing.
  • Churches working with the same overseas partner year after year, eventually fostering dependency (one called me up recently that had worked with the same church for ten years!).

These are all bad ideas that give a black eye to all those doing STMs. They are the result of a faddishness that has taken hold resulting in mixed motives and priority placed on the private agendas of participants.

The reality is greater numbers of short-term groups are spending money with little missiological impact. Participants and leaders are not being held to account by missions committees and church leaders. Missions committees don’t ask tough questions about fruit being produced through the trips.

How do we turn this around? First, check out the Seven Standards of Excellence for STMs. If you’re responsible for a church group, get a missionary to assess the quality of your STMs using these guidelines. I helped form the committee that came up with these standards and I’ll offer my own standards for missions excellence in tomorrow’s blog.

If you’re an individual going on a mission trip, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much preparation am I being asked to commit to?
  2. How much experience does my trip leader have?
  3. Will I be discipled along the way?
  4. Are we working with a local leader who will follow up on the ministry we do?
  5. How long has the mission been partnering with the local person – does trust exist?
  6. If this is a first-time experience, does it cost more than $400/week?

The irony is, STMs are the best discipling tool in the church’s toolbox. They have the potential to change lives like nothing else on the calendar.

For more on this subject, check out Why STMs work. And if you’re interested in how to ensure excellence on short-term mission trips, check out this blog: What Does an Excellent Mission Project Look Like or check out The Case for Short-Term Missions.

Comments (44)

  • Your list nails it all right on the head. The group leader needs to know how much prep time they want to put in ahead of time. If the time before the trip is team building and spiritually stretching then the STM will be an exciting and growing outreach of what Christ has called us to do.

  • there’s always something new, something different, something to learn from your articles, something to edify the body of Christ.sms are an integral part of the great commission and need to be revitalised. thanks for points raised.

  • Your insight never ceases to amaze me, Seth.
    You wake us up when we are asleep, you challenge us when we are too comfortable, you make us think beyond the box when we’ve already made up our minds. Thanks for the challenges. Thanks for AIM and its ministry around the world. Thanks for teaching our young people so they can teach others.

  • thanks for the kind words, Dana. God is good. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we are but dust, animated for a second by God’s Spirit, but dust. So, I’m happy to dance in the sun for the moment that God has given me.

  • I enjoy your insite and reminider about the puspose of shot term missions… one needs to watch what they are advertising. I really liked your list of things to remember of one is going out… in excellence!
    TA

  • Great post!

    If I were a missionary and some church approached me about a STM team that wanted to come to our site, what screening criteria would you suggest I use to make for an effective expereince?

  • Great post. Thanks for the assessment questions. As one who leads trips each year, we strive to properly prepare our students and leaders. These questions are helpful and thought provoking.

  • Great post except that I have a problem where you said:

    “The reality is greater numbers of short-term groups are spending money with little missiological impact.”

    How can you measure ‘missiological impact’? How many people were saved? How many orphanages were built? It just seems impossible to put a measurement on how a STM could have an impact…even a poorly managed one.

    All youth groups are on different spiritual levels. Some are more spiritually mature then others and are able to contribute more, some less. STM are 2 way streets, the purpose is to go and to serve and to bring glory to God. Those that are doing the serving, receive a spiritual benefit and there’s nothing wrong with receiving that benefit or even seeking it. Perhaps those trips that are poorly managed and organized are serving another purpose in growth?

    I don’t know, I’m just trying to see the positive in it all.

  • Let me suggest that the problem with measuring missiological impact is one of time frame. A five year time frame is appropriate. Just because the project is short-term doesn’t mean the time frame for assessing impact is short-term.

    When you use a five year time frame you can bring it back to the central criteria of “disciples made.” If disciples were made, then the proof of the pudding will be that they themselves are making disciples. This notion of measuring those who were “saved” is a peculariarly American evangelical invention that does not stand up to the biblical test of Lordship.

  • I often wonder are short term missions becoming status quo. Way too often we (The church) are getting comfortable with conforming to the view of the unchurched. We’re creating as many seeker senitive churches as Starbucks is producing coffee shops. A STM trip is NOT a camp, it’s not a vacation, it’s not a way to bring non churched kids into a youth group, it’s about stepping it up and being Jesus to the world. When we arrive to a project location are we really impacting that location? I believe we are! But it’s a question we need to ask ourselves.

  • I have been skeptical of the impact of short term missions on the people targeted for years. This post only reinforces my distaste of them.

    The only people who really benefit from stm are the people who go on them. They are really just junket trips for the ego or for the self.

    If people REALLY were concerned for the people they go to visit then they would donate their airfares, travel expenses, etc to a recognised charity doing work in that area.

    If you want to help the people in a poor nation then donating money to build their infrastructure (schools, homes, churches) or donating money to support indiginous workers (pastors, teachers, workers, educational opportunities) is the ONLY way to be “self sacrificing”.

    Sure go on a stm if you want but don’t think your ‘sacrifice’ is any more noble than a holiday with some altruism thrown in.

    Sure it might extend your world view, or expose you to new experiences, but these are all ‘self’ advancing activities.

    Tpically in the west even in charitable works we try and get the best deal for ourselves first.

  • For the record, the person who just posted above finds himself in conflict with Jesus himself, who sent his disciples on STMs at least twice, as well as Paul, who went on a number of them.

    The question is not whether to do STMs or not, that is biblically mandated by our Lord who said, “follow me.”

    The question is how best to do them.

  • I agree with the list of what NOT to do except for the last one. Is there something to be said about building a relationship with an overseas missions partner over time?

  • Yes most “boxed” STMs are getting cheezy. Sit back and be catered to…or I would suggest the following…

    Do your own STM and save the money for projects and donations to those local foundations that may allow you to work with them.

    Don’t go far from home. I’m sure there are SO many opportunites in your own state to work.

    Take the time and effort to plan the trip yourself. Pick up a copy of The Essential Guide to the Short Term Mission Trip from Moody and plan ahead. It’s a great reference.

    Step out on faith and trust that God will guide you with the trip…if you do the appropriate legwork.

    Allow the youth to plan worship and devotion themselves. Help them pick topics and scriptures and step back…but not too far. As always be there for there questions. Trust the Hebrew Scriptures…the Prophets, Major and Minor.

    Buy your own food and cook it yourselves. It’s a great team building activity in it’s own right.

    I’ve been doing this for years with adults and am taking youth with the adults this year as their youth pastor. As opposed to spending $300-400 for a week our cost is $100 per youth…and they sell “Stock” for most of that. We travel to the Boot Heel of Missouri (125 mile drive) and stay at a local church, shower at the local high school, buy our food from the local grocery store and our materials from the local lumber yard. If you need to buy tools, buy them there. Support the local economy whenever possible. The region may need it. Job sites are chosen by the county agency in service to those living in poverty. They provide material lists and work through HUD so much of the materials are paid for.

    These trips are wonderful springboards for personal discovery. They are also directly responsible for the changing of lives of those we touch…LONG term. Relationships last for years as well. Many of the families we have served in the past keep in touch and we see the changes in their lives.

    If your sick of Canned STMs then step outside your comfort zone, do the background work, do the planning and do it yourself. But be kind…I learned to do this work when I was 16 in Appalachaia through Appalachia Service Project, a QUALITY mission group. It changed my life. That was 38 years ago.

  • Seth, this is so refreshing! I have been doing STMs for 23 years as an adult. This summer I’ll take my 34th team out of their comfort zones into Appalachia. I’ve noticed a few changes for the worse over the last ten years;

    1. The number of times my teams are re-doing bad work by previous teams. This ranges from new roofs that leaked again at the first rain to decks stained in an obviously slap-dash way so that the crew could make it to rec on time.

    2. The number of local churches and agencies that beg us to come back, because “you’re our best” or “We save the tough ones for you and there are too many tough ones backed up”

    3. The number of needy folks and local workers who say “Y’all aren’t like most of the teams. They kind of treat us like they’re better’n us.”

    4. When we get home and the kids are clamoring for a chance to do work locally, how hard it is to find folks who’ll work with us, even for a weekend.

    5. I can wait until January to apply because I get my pick of dates.

    One thing I’m not certain about – why shift the site? In our case, I have one church I work with regularly because the need is consistent and severe, I know what to expect and can plan, and because the kids are able to establish real relationships with the people we serve (we tend to go back to the same hollers and even the same homes because ther’s ore work than one summer can handle.) They also spend their own money to help defray costs, so we’re able to go for a bit less than $200/head of which 125 is for materials. Am I blessed or missing something?

  • I really like the way you approached this issue. This is something that I believe is on the hearts of many but not articulated very well until now. I must say though that I disagree with your final point of the established relationship. We work with a ministry in Guatemala that is establishing discipleship ministries throughout the country. We go in support of this team and help with evangelism as well as with work projects. This relationship has been built from the time the ministry in Guatemala was in its infancy. Our kids feel that they are a part of what is going on in Guatemala. They care about the team members there, the groups they visited, and the people they have served. I have several that are pursuing a life of being an overseas missionary because of their experience and their relationship with this dynamic team.

    It is our purpose to serve the ministry team in Guatemala completely. Through year round communication with the leadership there we learn of their yearly goals and they become our goals as well. In doing so, the whole church has become involved and is increasingly developing a mindset to support missions. The relationship has also allowed costs to come down greatly.

    I do agree though that many are now going…just to go. I watched a video on YouTube of a group who stayed at one of the finer hotels in Antigua, Guatemala. They spent one day visiting a poor area outside of town and had lunch with orphans presenting music and drama. They complained of the heat and went to the market. I must admit I was a little nauseated after that.

    Thanks for opening the discussion.

    Moose

  • The “fad” issue is why I decided not to participate in “packaged” or large group mission trips. In my experience, small groups tend to be more effective and become more acquainted with the people we have gone to serve with and learn from. Instead of the packaged route, we went through our denomination and found a group who needed some help in a Mexican community. We go back and work with the same group each year and now have a true relationship with the people. The kids see those people as friends, not people we are going to “serve,” but people we are helping by working beside them. We eat each meal mixed at the same tables with them, we worship with them and after work each day we take some of them with us for fun activities. This relationship is in it’s 11th year and we just started a joined effort to establish a new church/food ministry. Every ministry has weak points and we do to, but I feel this is one area we have figured out successfully.

  • Seth, believe it or not you can’t draw back to the bible for justification for stm.

    Sure Jesus, sent the disciples out, and Paul went, but where they went there WERE NO other christians. They were doing missionary work in untouched areas of the world

    Now THATS biblical

    STM tend to focus on areas of the world with indiginous populations of christians.

    Lets look at a typical example. You go on a stm to a 3rd world country to build a school. It cost you a bare mnimum of $5000 to be a hammer hand.

    That money could have bought the entire building, and gone towards helping the people there far more than your 4 week junket. Imagine what World Vision could ahve done with that money in the region.

    Sure be a missionary, sure even go for 2, 3, 4 years. But a stm is merely for YOU.

  • I always learn so much from the comments to these posts. I find that despite my best efforts to follow Jesus and give my life to Him, a self-serving agenda always rears it’s ugly head. I have refused to go on any missions trip to date because I have always felt it would be for mey benefit – and not for the Lord or His people. Thus I remained silent and uneffective for God. It took me a while (and I continue to struggle) to understand that ALL of our activities – STMs, volunteer work, long term missions and so on – are ALL subject to selfishness and imperfection by our very nature. To refuse participation in anything because of our imperfect nature seems to limit God to exactly zero people in his creation that should do ANYTHING for his will, since we are all sinners. All of us. Myself leading the charge in many areas.

    I am obviosly not the scholar that most folks seem to be on this blog. I’ll make sure to thank God that even if we don’t have all the right answers, He loves us.

  • The value of STMs depends on what assumptions you bring to the discussion. The first key assumption is of who is receiving the benefit for the trip. Is the purpose to benefit the recipient? I know in our small church in Massachusetts, STMs were invaluable for rehabbing our dilapidated facilities, and for building the new auditorium. (And when the news media came by, they were able to share their faith to a wider audience.) Youth STMs helped establish a 4-week daycamp that the 20 dual-income couples there couldn’t have managed. That camp, now in its 15th(?) year made our name in the town and drew to us a large number of new believers, new members and enough indigineous workers that it is now a missions-sending church. (And, yes, we always planned some sightseeing time, but not to interfere with the purpose of the trip.)

    And if money were the answer, the USA would be brimming with Christians. Instead, we are a Muslim mission field and less than 1% of American Jews claim Jesus as Messiah. The poor will be with us always, and I shouldn’t just give to salve my conscience of not being the profession short-term (or long-term) missionary with all the answers.

    I say the STMs are for the benefit of those going? My faith is rarely challenged in my suburban sameness the way it would be to go minister to the poor in another part of the city, or rebuild at a disaster site, or travel to a foreign orphanage to rock the abandoned babies for a week (and take an afternoon to go shopping or to the beach). If we wait until our youth are qualified to go, they’ll never leave the home church, except when they give up on church completely.

    So go. Avoid the “ministry-lite” vacation packages, for sure, and give them meaningful jobs to do. But do not hinder the little ones from going. They might catch the vision and become life-long true disciples.

  • Many of the STMs trips to Latin American countries are designed to either start, continue, or finish a concrete bulding that the locals can use as a church. On my recent STM trip to Mexico, I found out that most of these buldings take three, four or even 5 years to complete. That’s a waste of resources. Buildings are great, but they limit the growth of the church! You can’t expand or remodel a concrete building as easy as in the US. Let’s take a different approach and direction and think outside the box. Maybe a different type of building would serve better to our brothers in other countries.

  • I forgot to mention that out of the 7 days in our STM trip, we worked three and the rest were filled with activities such as: Shopping, sight-seeing, beach, and other stuff.

  • Seth,

    I appreciate your knowledge in this. I went to Jamaica 2005 with Alli Mellon. Since then, this exact subject has been on my heart. Thank you for your informed insight and challenge.

    Shelly

    P.S. I’m a team member in 13th Floor.

  • I would just like to clarify. I felt our mission trip (2 months) was very fruitful and that’s not why I’ve been thinking about STM’s. I just felt that if we had only been there for a week or two, what could we have done. When it was time for us to leave, I felt in my heart that we can’t just come and leave, it’s hurting the people that do live there. They need relationship. Who will commit to spending their lives for these people? Will I? Uh, may we follow God’s lead in this. May we be willing to lay down our will and walk in His.

  • None of the comments so far on this blog seem to have considered the opportunity cost of doing short-term mission. That is, if people’s energy and enthusiasm weren’t so heavily invested into STMs, then what could alternatively be happening? The assumption seems to be ‘nothing’.

    But, is this correct? Perhaps it could be:
    1. Taking long termers more seriously, whereas these days stms take the lion’s share of attention.
    2. Taking language issues more seriously.
    3. Turning around the missiology in our universities – currently dominated by short termers (very often on both sides of the desk).

    We could also bear in mind the ‘traps’ that short termers put people into. That is, in many ‘poor’ parts of the world, short-termers are known as having a lot of money. People’s interest in their finance compels them to take a lot of notice, to put aside other activities in order to spend time with the short termers, and to say encouraging things even to discouraging activities on their part. The most well-meaning humble short-termer from the ‘West to the rest’ cannot avoid the reputation that their predecessors have already given to them. That is, of someone rather ignorant, but incredibly generous.

    Long term serious missionaries are often compelled to listen closely to and take exceptionally good care of short-termers, if only because of the weight that they are likely subsequently to carry at the sending churches end of the long-termer. That is, short-termers often have a major voice at the sending end. This attention to short-termers of course detracts the long termer from what s/he might otherwise have been doing.

    I refer readers to http://shorttermmission.blogspot.com/

  • Yo pienso que Seth tiene razon, porque los “STM”‘s son importante para nosotros, los gentes del lugar, y los missionarios.

    ¡Gracias!

  • Your points are really good, but don’t expect too much from the “missions committees”. In my experience they often consist of mission-band-wagon-junkies that get ego gratification from participating indirectly and expecting their kids that want to see exotic places to have royal treatment and genuine long term missionaries to kiss their rumps.

    There’s a scene from Brave Heart where a lieutenant leans over and says “I hope you washed your &%$! today it’s about to be kissed by a king.” … My experience has been like this with the almighty committee. Just replace the word king with missionary.

    PTL, they aren’t all like those. I have yet to meet a fruitful long term missionary that doesn’t have a story like that, but somehow God gets us connected with friends despite all the contrary efforts. I just doubt standards and committees are the formula here.

    Nice try though.

    -Bideshi (missionary)
    Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.

  • Seth, when I read this the first thing I thought of was AIM. I have been on 2 stm with AIM, one to the Amazon Jungle, Peru, and one to Long Beach, Mississippi. Both of the trips were done exactly how a trip should be done. I was asked to do tons of preperation, my leaders had great experience, our host was very trustworthy, the training camp was amazing, really, I could go on for ever.
    If anyone is wanting to go on a stm, go with AIM. They focus on the ministry, the trips are basically all spirit led and they are exactly how short a short term mission trip should be.

  • Hey, I am doing a speech opposing short term missions today, I was wondering if you have any data or statistics that would work for this?

  • Comment #27 from Jim Harries takes a “small pie” view of STMS – that we’re cutting up a pie with a limited number of dollars that could perhaps be more efficiently allocated elsewhere. My experience is that STM participants usually increase the size of the pie, doing car washes and the like to bring new funds into the church mission budget. And usually the best givers to missions are those who have experienced them. Certainly there are few actual missionaries anymore who haven’t already been on an STM. People give and participate in what has touched their hearts.

    Where Harries is right is that often churches will divert excessive amounts of money from their mission budget to fund STMs.

    Good policy is not on one side or the other, but somewhere in the middle.

  • If you are going on a missions trip to minister among the least of these children in foriegn lands, then stay home if you are not married and have not raised children of your own. Good principle to check yourself with. I have see this first handed when young people show up on the field and are put in smelly dirty situations with kids…first thing the nose turns up, arms get crossed and immediately a bad attitude developes. They are not about to get their hands dirty.

  • That sounds like a poor litmus test, Rodney. I know many young people who haven’t had kids who dive right into the muck and get dirty with the “least of these.” It’s a comfort factor – are young people taking the opportunity to “get dirty” even before going on a mission trip? That may be a better test. Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t afford a lot of opportunities for this. It usually has to be an intentional choice of the young person or something enforced by a parent.

  • Dick: If you have taken 34 STM teams to Appalachia, I’m going to say that you’re work is ineffective. These people live in AMERICA, the “land of opportunity”. Surely if they wanted to change, they would have changed by now.

  • I have done a few STM’s in the Philippines over the years; have gained much experience and seen a church planted in a village as a result of a crusade we did in October 2005.
    In April 2008 I was back in that city and met with the pastor. That church is still running strong.

    As a result of these STM’s I seriously considered a call of God into that country long term.

    Some people do go on STM’s for the wrong reasons or expect a holiday from it. But others go for the right motives.

    The Pharisee spirit (religious spirit) in some in the body of Christ will always try and pull down or critisize a work of God.

    So long as God is glorified as a result of an STM then why do the spiritual fat cats critisize.

    The STM’s I have been a part of satisfied the 7 questions criteria; we worked tightly with local churches,pastors and church workers who did follow up and discipleship after we left.

  • Hi. I have been on 3 STM’s and I am going on another one soon, and all to the same church in Belize! (gasp) Is this ministry ineffective because we have been supporting this church for years? My life is definitely different, and my perspective is wider as a result of these trips, and most importantly, my view of the cross and the saving grace of Jesus Christ has been expanded. You people make STM’s sound bad.

  • Sorry, felt I had to join in the debate.

    It’s good to examine the value of what we can get so indifferent about and what we spend so many resources on.

    I have to agree with both sides. Looking at my own experience, what NC said is true, short term missions often *do* seem to benefit the people who go more.

    I went to South America for 6 months in a team of 11, only 3 of us had anything vaguely approaching conversational Spanish. We went to do building work, but were all unskilled. There were many out-of-work foremen, carpenters and builders who could have done the work for us had we just sent the money. But:

    1) If you had said to me “Just send the money, it will benefit them more” I would have ignored you, or just not bothered. Now I have seen first hand just how far that money goes I give way more.

    2) Even our lack of preparation did not prevent us from building relationships, and local non-church-goers struck up conversation with us because we were white, opportunities the local church may never have had.

    3) Local missionaries took us with them, not to speak to the people but just to stand there and be white. Was a bit weird, but they considered it a benefit.

    4) The local church was encouraged, big time. The second church we went to was in a village of less than 1000, they all knew each other, we were able to build new relationships with people who remained in the church after we’d left. Just by being there we doubled attendance, and I don’t think you can measure the encouragement value of seeing your normally have empty church full of vibrant young people and the fresh impetus that gives

    5) Even though our leaders weren’t experienced, we all discipled each other. Even though one person slipped through the vetting process who was a Christian in name only until he met the team and was struck by how the team related to God and met Jesus a week before he left, that person helped to found long term missions in South Africa and is one of the most on-fire-for-Christ people I know.

    Gotta go, more to follow.

    Saz

  • Part 2….

    I also think maybe a little too much emphasis is placed on value for money. I agree we should be good stewards but I’m not sure that’s where God’s main focus is. He is after all the maker of all things and it’s nothing to Him to provide us more money if we need it.

    On the way back from Bolivia I lost my plane ticket and spent and extra fortnight with the church I’d been with in Peru. It meant spending an extra $225 as they made me buy another ticket and I was very stressed, but God spoke to me very powerfully that the lessons I learnt during that fortnight were eternal that amount of money was muck compared to the value of them.

    I know that I am forever changed, as is my future, from that trip. We went over there to serve the church and the community and that’s what we did, even if there is a more efficient way in material terms that could have been acheived. Im certain we learnt far more from them than they did from us, but does that mean it was a failure? God was glorified, and even if our 11 lives were the only ones transformed (which is not the case at all) I would consider that money well spent.

    But thank you for the challenge, we should never stop striving for excellence for the sake of the people we’re serving, or go for selfish reasons and you provide some great practical ways of avoiding the pitfalls.

    Saz

  • You say, “People are waiting longer and longer before they sign up for projects” However, doesn’t your website actually invite this with statements like “It’s not too late to join other college students like Emma this fall on 3 month trips to Latin America, Africa, and Asia!” ( http://updates.adventures.org/?filename=i-wanted-to-hide-my-secrets-from-god-but-he-wanted-to-set-me-freeon 3 July 2016). Surely if you’re serious about this, then applications should close months before, and require preparation from participants?

    • Great point, Jenni! We normally do close our trips months before the teams launch. I need to check into this to make sure that our practice syncs with our policy. Sometimes if a given team needs a few more members to hit critical mass, we compromise and then use the months remaining before launching to help them catch up with the rest of the team. But I will make sure that we are not inadvertently compromising the quality of the team’s experience.

      Thanks for catching this!

  • We live in an E.P.I.C. generation, young people who want to Experience, Participate, are Image Driven and want to feel Connected. The STM venue is perfect for all all these. No longer is sitting in a pew and listening enough. No longer is watching a missionaries video or looking at a PowerPoint satisfactory. Some of these present good images but there’s no real connection. The STM allows the participant to experience the mission field, participate in the work, see the images first hand and be fully connected to the work at hand. That’s why a STM has such impact!! Young people are creating their own personal stories which will change their lives. There’s no better form of discipleship. It’s “Discipleship of the Fields”, not the classroom.

  • Having lead many STM and now after being a missionary on the field I totally agree with what Seth says about STM. I have been on some incredible trips where discipleship, life change and encourage to missionaries all took place. We have had groups come to Mexico and do an excellent job and we have had groups come that should have down more prep and pray and language work before coming.

    I think the key to a good STM is like Seth said the 7 standards of excellence and asking those 6 questions he noted on the bottom of his article.

    We are now on the mission field due in part to going on many STM. So, keep sending, keep going, but do it well.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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