"Wouldn't it be better to just send money to where the need is instead of spending so much time and resources on a mission trip?"
Have you heard anyone say this or something similar when it comes to short-term mission trips? Perhaps you have even said, or at least thought it yourself. There have been countless articles and blog posts on this topic in recent years. While there are valid points on both sides, ultimately this is not an either /or scenario but a both /and scenario. Yes, you can send money. Yes, your money can help. Yes, mission trips can be expensive. Yes, you may be uncomfortable. Yes, you can rationalize not going.
However, Jesus did not say, "Stay and send your money." He said "Go and make disciples." As J.D. Greear points out in his article "In Defense of Short-Term Mission Trips - " The first person to take the gospel across cultures was not an apostle, but an ordinary dude. Is that not an indication of how the Holy Spirit will spread the gospel around the world today? God has commanded ordinary people to be a part of what he is doing around the world." Who wouldn't want to personally participate in that?! Another great article to consider is Roger Peterson's "Missio Dei or Missio Me?" from the "Perspectives" missions training course. Roger gives a great case for how we should be... "using short-term missions to contribute toward the fulfillment of God’s global purpose."
SCORE Domestic adheres to the 7 Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Missions. These 7 standards should be a way for you to evaluate short-term mission opportunities.
The 7 Standards1.God-Centeredness An excellent short-term mission seeks first God’s glory and his kingdom, and is expressed through our:
• Purpose — Centering on God’s glory and his ends throughout our entire STM process
• Lives — Sound biblical doctrine, persistent prayer, and godliness in our thoughts, words, and deeds
• Methods — Wise, biblical, and culturally-appropriate methods which bear spiritual fruit
2. Empowering Partnerships An excellent short-term mission establishes healthy, interdependent, on-going relationships between sending and receiving partners, and is expressed by:
• Primary focus on intended receptors
• Plans which benefit all participants
• Mutual trust and accountability
3. Mutual Design An excellent short-term mission collaboratively plans each specific outreach for the benefit of all participants, and is expressed by:
• On-field methods and activities aligned to long-term strategies of the partnership
• Goer-guests’ ability to implement their part of the plan
• Host receivers’ ability to implement their part of the plan
4. Comprehensive Administration An excellent short-term mission exhibits
integrity through reliable set-up and thorough administration for all participants, and is expressed by:
• Truthfulness in promotion, finances, and reporting results
• Appropriate risk management
• Quality program delivery and support logistics
5. Qualified Leadership An excellent short-term mission screens, trains, and develops capable leadership for all participants, and is expressed by:
• Character — Spiritually mature servant leadership
• Skills — Prepared, competent, organized, and accountable leadership
• Values — Empowering and equipping leadership
6. Appropriate Training An excellent short-term mission prepares and equips all participants for the mutually designed outreach, and is expressed by:
• Biblical, appropriate, and timely training
• On-going training and equipping (pre-field, on-field, post-field)
• Qualified trainers
7. Thorough Follow Through An excellent short-term mission assures evaluation, debriefing and appropriate follow-through for all participants, and is expressed by:
• Comprehensive debriefing of all participants (pre-field, on-field, post-field)
• Thoughtful and appropriate follow-through for goer-guests
• On-field and post-field evaluation among sending and receiving partners