Today (June 28, 2020) is Mission Dignity Sunday, which is why I am sharing this post on missions. Have you ever been on a mission trip? Have you ever dreamed about becoming a missionary? Have you wanted to share the Gospel with strangers across the globe? Mission trips are an intentional way to plan on sharing the Gospel with others. However, there are a couple different types of mission trips. There are short term and long term mission trips. Which one would you like to go on?
Short term mission trips are typically taken by church and youth groups for a week up to about four weeks. They can be fairly local, such as working at a food kitchen and staying somewhere besides one’s home, or short term mission trips can be across the country or even international trips.
There are pros and cons to short term mission trips, as well as long term mission trip. For short term mission trips, the positives include:
- You can usually take a whole group on a short term mission trip. By having lots of people on the trip, you can get heavier lifting type work done; get more jobs accomplished; and show more people of your church what a taste of missions is like. (Keep in mind, however, that short term missions is far different than long term missions.)
- You can spark an interest for some people for taking longer mission trips.
- You can encourage people’s passion for and skill in sharing the Gospel.
- You can use it as a sort of retreat where you can train a closer nucleus of your church for growing closer to Christ.
- Sanctification can happen in short term mission trips.
- You can see a different culture in a short term mission trip, and in turn, that can grow a love for people who do not look or talk like you.
- Short term missions can give you a small glimpse of what the Church will look like in heaven, where we are all praising God no matter where we are from here on earth.
- You can help a lot of people even on a short term mission trip.
- Short term mission trips to see long term missionaries on the field can help encourage and strengthen those missionaries to stay longer and remind them that they are not alone in this.
- You can see how the ministries are going for those missionaries; however, do not use the trip only to evaluate the long term missionary. Use it for blessing the missionary and seeing where they need some assistance.
- You can also end up seeing many different places while going on multiple short term mission trips, which means that you can help in many different places around the world.
For short term mission trips, there are also drawbacks, which include:
- You might not get to really know the people you are serving on short term mission trips. (However, with technology, you can create lasting friendships over time. Do not get discouraged. Also, you can write letters to those whom you meet.)
- You might see tensions heat up on short term mission trips. There are many reasons that could cause disagreement on short term mission trips (pride, jealousy, being worn out from work, not being united in Christ, comparison, etc.) On the couple of short term mission trips that I have been on, there have been disagreements. It calls for more prayer.
- You are only getting a glimpse of what it is like on the mission field. Do not get to prideful or cocky because long term missions are really different.
- You only get a taste of what a culture is like.
- You can only get so much done on a short term mission trip.
Short term mission trips are great for helping out a missionary and / or church organization, such as American Indian Christian Mission in Show Low, Arizona, or Haiti Outreach Ministries in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, or Eden Ministries in Doma, Zimbabwe. However, short-term mission trips are very different than long term mission trips. When you decide to go on a long-term mission trip or become a long term missionary, you are committing to one place and one people group for many years or even the rest of your life. It is a major commitment to decide to move to another place, another country, or even another continent with your family or as a single man or woman. And serving as a family and serving as a single man or woman also take on different journeys.
Here are some positive things that long term missions have:
- Long term missions can serve a people group long term, thereby creating lasting relationships and building trust with that people group.
- Long term missions can allow your family some stability because they will have one centralized location to call home.
- Long term missions can allow you to network with people, businesses, and organizations in order to leverage more resources and people for sharing the Gospel.
- Long term missions can help further the translations of the Bible into languages for those people.
- Long term missions can help train the local people to become elders and deacons in the church, which means that if you ever have to leave, the church can still survive.
- Long term missions can help show the importance of missions to your children, which can end up encouraging multigenerational missions and impact more for Christ.
- Sanctification can happen in long term missions because you are giving up certain comforts for Christ, so that more people can become disciples of Christ.
Long term missions may seem cool, but there are some big realities that one has to face when deciding to commit to long term missions. Here are some of the drawbacks or tough things that long term missionaries have to face:
- You may not see your extended family for a long time, unless they come to visit you.
- You may not have as nice of a house in the location you are called to serve.
- You may struggle with finding friends for a time, and you may feel lonely.
- You might have to find a job while there to support your ministry. (However, if you look at the opportunity, you can use your job to network with others and share the Gospel.)
- You most likely will have to be creative in how you do things because things that work in the United States may not work the same in other countries.
- If you farm in a new place, you may face drought, crop diseases, locusts and other pests, etc. Farming is not always easy everywhere you go. Therefore, you will have to use new techniques and tools to grow crops for food.
- You will need to learn the local language, proper local etiquette, and where everything is.
- Moving all your belongings will most likely be a headache. So you may have to sell a lot of your belongings and buy some when you get where God has called you.
Long term missions may mean that you are called to give up a lot of things. However, keep in mind Christ has made a promise to us who believe and follow Christ:
”Then Peter said to Him, ‘Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms form My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” – Matthew 19:27-30 NASB (emphasis mine)
If you are praying about going into the mission field, whether short or long term, here are some resources to help your journey:
International Mission Board
North American Mission Board
Christ Reaching Asia Mission Worldwide
Join in on the conversation!
I always love hearing from my readers, so feel free to comment on this post. Are you a missionary? Are you praying about becoming a missionary? Have you ever been on a short or long term mission trip? What else would you add about the differences between short and long term missions?