Becoming a long term Missionary forces you to develop your thoughts on things that used to seem normal. For me, one of those things has been short term missions. I have spent the last 6 months trying to develop a philosophy of short term missions. Frankly, my journey into developing these thoughts was birthed out of my frustration for all the short term teams in and out of Masi! I am not sure that it will accomplish anything to share my concerns with you, but they are numerous and still alive. Intstead, I will tell you how I think short term missions trips CAN be healthy and fruitful:
1. The people going need to be properly prepared in the HEART! There must be training that deals with the heart! Why are we going and what is in our heart to accomplish for the God's Kingdom? If there is not strong foundational understanding of key purposes and heart behind the trip BEFORE the fundraising begins, it can become a mess. Take no one on the trip because they want to feel spiritual or scratch their travelling itch.
2. Short term trips should be entered into with prayerful public awareness among the team that we are asking God to call one or more of us into long term work. Discuss it up front. Build the expectation of long term fruit into the trip from the start. If long term workers are produced out of short term trips, they are worth every dollar! Someone in the group may go back to stay and that is a WIN!
3. Finally, the short term trip/team MUST relaize that they are there to encourage and bless the LONG TERM people and LONG TERM work. Sow, water, till, build and bless into the long term stuff. Give long term servants relief, rest, encouragement and inspirtaion. That is the goal. Start nothing new that you cannot continue. Only sow into what is there and strengthen it.
So, this is a non comprehensive start to some of my thoughts on how to make short term trips fruitful Kingdom initiatives.
PS- One thing that I would like to do is to study short term teams and trips found in the New Testament. That would be fascinating.