The Problem with Short-Term Mission Trips | Builders International

The Problem with Short-Term Mission Trips

Jonathan Hukill March 4, 2020 5min read The Builders Weekly

The Problem with Short-Term Mission Trips

Short-term mission trips can be some of the most impactful times of our lives. The memories we make during a trip are with us for the rest of our lives and remembered as if they happened yesterday. I can remember going on my first mission trip to the City of Refuge Children’s Home in Kingston, Jamaica. That is where my passion for missions was born! It is because of that trip that I now desire to make a difference in the lives of those in need around the world and bring Jesus to the multitudes who have never heard His name. 

There is a problem, though, when it comes to how we, as Christians, sometimes view short-term mission trips and the purpose that they serve. Often, we do not travel with the right intentions and do not think about the long-term needs of those we are serving.

If we’re only spending one week on the mission field, we want to ensure that one week will impact the lives of people long after we have returned home!

Mission Trips with a New Perspective

To put it into perspective, some mission trips have a similar mentality as aid that is sent to nations and continents in need. An economist named Dambisa Moyo breaks down why aid has not, and will not ever, work in Africa. She shares in her book, “Dead Aid,” that when people send money, clothes, medical supplies, and other forms of aid, it actually does not make a lasting impact. Though many have their short-term needs met with all of the many types of assistance, their long-term needs are never addressed. Help is needed, but not in the form of short-term aid. For that reason, she declares that long-term solutions are the only true cure.

Similarly, do mission trips meet the long-term needs of people or just assist them in the short-run? Oftentimes, we as Christians make a pit-stop in an impoverished country, help them for a week, feel a sense of accomplishment, and then leave them to figure out how to fill their spiritual and physical needs for the rest of their lives. In contrast, if we begin to see life from their perspective, I believe the way we serve will drastically change.

For a moment, imagine yourself and your family are living in a small hut alongside the Amazon River. You have never heard of Jesus thus far in your life, but some people from the United States spend a week in your village to build a church nearby. Later, you decide to check out the new facility that has garnered so much excitement in the community! That is the moment you realize that this Jesus they are talking about is real and loves you very much. You, along with your entire family, decide to dedicate and surrender your lives to Jesus.

In that scenario, those who traveled on a mission trip did not just influence your family for that one week; they impacted your family and your entire community for generations to come. They may have only served on a short-term mission trip, but they made a difference. And it will last for years (actually, for eternity, for countless villagers) after the team has left the mission field. A short-term mission trip well spent!

Make a Long-Term Difference on Short-Term Mission Trips

This may sound like a fable, but in reality, many families who live along the Amazon River now have a place to encounter Jesus, thanks to those traveling with Builders International on short-term mission trips. Mark Lemos, a missionary to Brazil, has planted over 100 churches and knows the importance of mission teams! The teams that have gone and helped establish these churches will impact so many more people than they will ever know. They may never see the harvest from what they have sown, but their full reward will be waiting for them in heaven because they helped usher people in for the greatest gift of all…a relationship with Jesus Christ.

You too can make a difference in the long-run and build eternal treasures by viewing short term mission trips in a new light. If you are interested in discovering what a mission trip with Builders International might look like, we would love to connect with you and help you create something that will echo into eternity!