The number people who take part in short-term missions projects has exploded in the last two decades. One recent survey indicated that 41% of all 15-20 year olds have been on a mission trip. The number of people from the USA who go on short-term missions projects is now well over one million per year.
In Effective Engagement, the editor combines the work of twenty-five contributors to explore how short-term mission teams develop strategy, partner with field organizations, train team members, and in other ways improve their effectiveness. Specialized chapters refer to medical missions, involving children, urban projects, working with business professionals, and legal issues surrounding short-term mission project.
Some other insights from the book:
--While the number of people involved in short-term mission projects is skyrocketing, the number of US citizens serving as missionaries for 1-4 years is declining, and the number of long-term missionaries is only slightly increasing. The interest in missions generated by the huge number of short-term mission projects is not resulting in increased long-term missionaries.
--To be effective, short-term projects should EITHER be project focused and recognize that short-term team members can not develop significant personal relationships in a short time OR they should be relationship oriented and actively stay connected after the trip and return often to work with the same people. The ineffective projects are ones that assume that close relationships can be built cross-culturally in a short amount of time. Sadly many short-term projects are in this category.Read more ›
One of the least researched changes in Christian mission in the modern era has been the massive shift from long-term missionary presence to short-term mission trips(STM). Robert Priest is arguably one of the country's most knowledgeable scholars on the subject. He began serious research on the subject long before most people were asking the critical questions and has brought rigorous research to bear to help strengthen the way many of us engage in STM.
In this book, he has assembled an all-star cast of experts on different aspects of short-term mission-- from the theological to the logistical; from the highly critical to the highly positive. The authors critically examine different aspects of the short-term mission phenomenon (medical mission, impact of STM on host community, assessing the personal transformation of STM participants, etc.) in a balanced way.
Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions consists of 22 essays written by different authors on diverse topics related to short-term missions (or STM, for short). Just a sampling of the topics covered are: an evaluation of STM benefits, lessons from anthropological studies, urban mission trips, social capital, medical missions, business partnerships, legal liability, downsides of STM, and selecting leaders. While no overarching message is possible, the reader gets an approach both broad and narrow, which will help in understanding this dynamic reality in today's churches. The book is long (627 pages), although this is padded by many pages of footnotes. This is both its strength (diversity in topics, thorough treatment of subject) and weakness (seems like overkill, at times). I would highly recommend this resource for those planning or leading STM trips or crafting a missions strategy for their church. Chapters can be chosen based on relevance. All of the chapters offer important suggestions and analysis. This is the first book of its kind that I have read and expect it covers this topic for me for some time to come.