The Importance of Short-Term Mission Trips
By Laura Edgar
In recent years there has been a lot of discussion over whether short-term mission teams are helpful or not. While everyone’s experience may be different, ours has been that short-term teams have a positive, lasting impact.
There is a sharp contrast in teams that hurt and teams that help. Teams that are not helpful typically have a ‘savior’ mentality vs. a service mentality, are focused on what they are there to DO vs. what they can LEARN, and are focused on immediate vs. long-term results. When teams have the proper focus, they can be an invaluable part of the ministry.
Our team ministry is always done in partnership with the local, national church. Whether it’s VBS, a medical clinic, a sports camp, door-to-door evangelism, or a work team, the key players are the local pastor and his church members. If teams can provide reproducible ideas and let the pastor and church members take the lead, they can give them the resources and confidence to duplicate (and in many cases improve!) the activities for years to come. We have seen, time and time again, how a simple two-day activity in a church plant, done the right way, can give it the boost it needed. Teams have been a catalyst for churches becoming more established in their neighborhoods, gaining the confidence of local leaders, opening new doors of ministry, and even the birth of new church plants.
The positive impact is not one-sided, however. Those who have been a part of short-term missions have been impacted for salvation and have gained a broader perspective of the world by seeing how God is working first-hand. They also see that missionaries are real people! We have seen many continue in ministry on future short-term trips and even some who have become career missionaries themselves.
So, while there may be teams that are not helpful in the long-term, we are grateful that we have seen God use them for the sake of the Gospel.
Laura and her husband, Bruce, have served with ABWE for over 15 years and currently serve in Nicaragua. They have two college age children. While Bruce does training and mentoring with church planters, Laura does ‘everything else!’ Her ministries have included Sunday school teacher training, one-on-one discipleship, serving on the board of the local Christian school, substitute teaching, mentoring other missionary wives, and hosting many people in their home. She also is very involved in the communication with and logistics of the short-term teams that serve alongside them in Nicaragua. To learn more about the ministry and short-term teams please visit https://bruceandlauraedgar.weebly.com/ministriesservice-and-learning-teams.html