Our church recently sent a small team to Paris, France for about a week. And we will probably send another one to one of our partners again in a year. And probably the year after that. And we will continue sending teams overseas for as long as the Lord allows. But do these trips really matter? Are they worth the time and money it takes? However you think about them, short-term mission trips are a tremendous investment by everyone involved - the missionaries receiving and hosting them, teams actually going, and the cost of sending - but they are nevertheless a crucial aspect of ministry that should be prioritized. 

Here are 5 reasons I want our entire church to remain committed to sending short-term mission trips: 

1) Encouraging long-term missionaries is a top priority! 

At this time, HVBC has 3 adults and 2 children who have been sent from our church to live on other continents for the purpose of taking the gospel to the nations. That is a high calling, but it can often also be a lonely one. As truly helpful as video calls and emails and care packages can be, nothing accomplishes our aim of encouraging one another quite like face-to-face connection. Repeatedly in Scripture, Christians are urged to encourage one another that we may be strengthened in our faith and continue walking with the Lord. If we are going to ask our friends and family to ‘go’ then we must commit to doing whatever it takes to encourage them just as we do with one another. Short-term trips help us to support our brothers and sisters in meaningful ways that we simply cannot accomplish from a distance. 

2) Short-term trips are actually a smart investment. 

Based on a global average, it takes about $60,000.00 annually to support one adult missionary on the field. You obviously double that for a spouse and those numbers do not take into account any children or overhead costs for the sending agency, which are quite a lot. All in all, that amounts to a significant investment in every person we send to the nations, growing year after year. From a purely financial perspective, it makes a lot of sense to spend a fraction of that total investment to send a short-term team to support those we have commissioned and help them prosper in their life and ministry. 

3) They are wonderful tools for discipleship. 

Every aspect of a short-term trip is useful for discipleship. For those involved in sending, they are called on to be fervent in prayer, to give sacrificially and generously for something entirely outside of themselves, and their heart and mind are re-oriented time and again to the vast lostness in the world. The significant work God does to disciple those who go is nearly impossible to reproduce in any other way! They are called to walk in obedience and sacrifice, faced with their own sin and weakness in order to better rely on the grace and power of God, and given broader perspectives on the centrality of the mission of God in the world as well as

what God is doing in and through His church across the globe. There are few things as powerfully impactful in such a short period of time as short-term mission trips. 

4) God often uses these experiences to call more people to the nations. 

I am sure there are exceptions, but most missionaries who have heard and answered the call of God to move across the world would point to short-term trips as a significant part of that process. It is very difficult to imagine God calling you to something you cannot begin to picture. These types of trips allow people to experience life overseas in a different culture and setting, as well as come face to face with living for the purpose of evangelism. Personally, a summer spent in India exposed me to sensing the reality of spiritual darkness in ways I couldn’t have imagined and that oppression gave me a deeper burden for the lost in every nation. 

5) Evangelism! 

The biggest reason people give as to why we ought not take short-term trips is because they are ineffective at evangelism. And they are absolutely right! The reality is that without language proficiency and cultural understanding, short-term teams are not overly effective at communicating the gospel. However - and this is no small thing - they CAN be effective at advancing a long-term missionary’s strategy in lots of ways and they help train those who go to share their faith back home upon their return. Long-term personnel can often use short-term teams to bridge into new relationships, multiply their work or ministry in purposeful ways, or bring skills and resources into their setting that otherwise would be less readily available. While short-term teams are not usually as effective at personal evangelism, they can advance the mission of God in partnership with local workers and churches in strategic ways that do lead to Jesus being named and known more broadly. 

For all these reasons and many more, I hope our church will continue and grow in our commitment to sending short-term mission teams to our current and future partners around the world. I hope everyone at HVBC will partner together to send these teams and that as many of our members as are able will go on one themselves. May God use us to encourage and care for those He has called out of our midst and use these trips to call many more to the nations!