Are Short-Term Missions Worth the Effort and Money?

A question is circulating in the proverbial missions water cooler. Are short-term missions worth the effort and money? The real question is what does the short-term mission trip hope to accomplish? Is the goal to make a person’s/people’s lives better by providing new buildings and services? Or is the point to teach lost people about the life-giving words of Jesus Christ? In all fairness, the gospel can and has been proclaimed through new buildings and services happening when the Word of God is being presented alongside projects.

The why of short-term missions before the what

Understanding why we do what we do in any missions endeavor is of most importance. We have to understand the “why” before we can do the “what”.  The reason for short-term missions work is the same for any mission work: lost people and unreached people groups in the world need to hear about Christ.

The lost must be told

The lost must hear the gospel. Why did Jesus send out 70 of his disciples to lost people? Why did Jesus tell the formerly demon-possessed man (in Mark 5) to go home and tell what Jesus had done to him? Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria? A plentiful harvest waits for reconciliation to Christ. They just need someone to go and tell them.

Scripture shows us

We must look to scripture to address the question of whether or not short-term missions are worth the resources. Jesus has commanded,
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” – Matthew 28:18-20
The great commission is the driving force behind our efforts.

 The harvest is plentiful

The Bible also tells believers to,
“Go into all the world, preach the good news to everyone” – Mark 16:15.
It tells us the “Angels rejoice over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). If these scriptures are true, there should be no question of whether or not short-term missions are worth it. When someone goes “from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Col 1:13) heaven erupts. Should we not be just as excited? We were told, “the harvest is plentiful.” We must believe this or else our work will be in vain. Short-term missions are worth it because missions are worth it. They are worth it because each sinner reconciled to Christ is worth it.  

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