While it’s a given that the greatest impact of most
short-term mission (STM) trips is on the participants themselves, there are
certain kinds of ministry that STMs were made for insofar as they are themselves short-term and require the kind of energy and outreach focus that
STM participants bring
to the table. One
of the models that is particularly effective is the church-planting model
wherein the visiting team joins a host church in a one-week church planting
campaign. This model addresses the main criticisms
against STMs. Here’s how.
Because the local group has to do a lot of prep work to get
a new area ready for a church planting campaign, they become much clearer about
their vision and purpose than those planning other kinds of projects. A church planting project requires the
involvement of a lot of people in the host church, so the ownership level goes
up. As their goals are made more clear,
the short-term team has to become more focused as well. Their agendas fade into the background.
A good church-planting project does not require a lot of
skills on the part of the short-term group.
They need to be able to share their faith and pray with people. The local group does most of the hard work –
they have to follow up. But the very act
of coming creates faith in the local group.
It is a gift that they need as they step into uncharted territory.
Finally, a church plant, by definition is going to
endure. If done well, the new church
will continue to disciple new believers after the short-term group is gone.
Of course there are other benefits to the model – life
change can occur in both those who go as well as those in the host church. The process itself can produce the fruit of
more outwardly-focused churches and participants who have grabbed onto a vision
for the Great Commission.