Are short-term mission trips on the out? I don’t know, but I’ve heard some buzz lately implying they’re at least on trial.

One group defends short-term mission trips as a vehicle for fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It provides opportunity for the average person to connect with a bigger world-view, to experience the reality of poverty, disease, and hopelessness. The most passionate advocate for a missionary or ministry is someone who has seen it first hand. It’s takes a certain amount of personal involvement in order to cast an effective vision for those you lead.

Another group believes a short-term mission trip is nothing but glorified poverty window-shopping, enough experience to ease the conscious of the comfortable without requiring those who sign-up to make any kind of true difference or honest self-sacrifice. What kind of impact can be made in one or two weeks? Often an international short-term mission trip costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, per person. Would that money be better spent by sending it directly to the missionary or cause?

I find the arguments of both perspectives interesting, each with some valid points. Still, I can’t escape this reality in my own life:

A 3-week mission trip to Dominican Republic when I was 16 changed my life.

It’s the reason went to a Christian college as a freshman,

The reason I left Christian college to get my bachelor’s degree in Nursing,

The reason I support the local Denver Rescue Mission,

The reason I went to Africa last summer,

And the reason I leave for Haiti a week from Friday.

It’s also the reason that we’re considering full-time mission work at some point in the future.

My entire life has been impacted because an organization called Christ In Youth decided offering short-term mission experiences to teenagers was a good idea.

What do you think?