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As seen previously, the goal of missions should be for the benefit of the host receivers (those for whom the missionaries were sent) such as salvation by obeying the gospel, but certain benefits are derived by the goer-guests (short-term missionaries) as well. This is a serendipitous relationship. Mr. Peterson uses an illustration to show the two-way serendipity between goer-guests and host receivers (see Figure 2.1 below).[1]

Figure 2.1. STM Give N Take Reciprocity Grid



The illustration shows how both goer-guests and host-receivers have their own goals but each invests in one other. Goer-guests’ intended activities are sharing the gospel, assisting in benevolence outreach, edification or equipping, etc. Spontaneous activities include those actions that are unplanned (not a part of the intended activities) but still contribute to the host-receivers. Positive or negative responses are reactions to the intended activities by the missionaries or hospitality by the hosts. Remember though no illustration can fully capture everything and this is the same for short-term missions.

            There are many benefits for short-term missionaries during their on-field work. First, and chief among them is being a part of the Lord’s work and faithfully obeying Him to preach the gospel with the goal of the Lord adding precious souls to His church. Additionally a deeper understanding is realized by missionaries about the Lord through study, service and obedience to Him in sharing the gospel, caring for those in need and encouraging the church. There is also the stretching of living together in a Christian community. Often more prayer, devotion and study are involved during missions as well. Second is worldview expansion. During the mission short-term missionaries realize their world is bigger and the need to share the gospel is great. Third is a deeper insight on self. As missionaries serve others outside their normal routine, God reveals or hones/polishes/sharpens specific abilities they themselves may not have been aware of or developed. Fourth, the missionaries develop a broadened base of friends and appreciation for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The overall toil and labor of love by missionaries for their hosts bring the missionaries together in a close Christian bond that cannot be duplicated in other ways.

            Host-receivers receive four benefits as well. They hear the gospel shared and the hope is many will obey it. They receive worldview expansion by experiencing people often from outside their community. Some receive material blessings such as Bibles or if the mission is geared toward benevolence, then food, clothing, building supplies, etc. Host-receivers also broaden their base of friends.

            Some people question whether there are any true benefits reaped by either the host-receiver or the missionaries themselves during short-term missions. Dr. Livermore believes any benefits for short-term missionaries as a result of their mission are only superficial and last a short period of time.[2] Benefits received by short-term missionaries are a cause for concern among some. When short-term missionaries, according Dr. Schnabel, “return from such trips reporting how much they have learned and how they have been challenged, it becomes obvious that the designation ‘missionary work’ should be withheld from many such ventures, replaced by designations such as ‘sanctification experience in exotic places.’ The benefit for the short-terms and their congregations ‘at home’ far outweighs the strategic impact on the city or area visited.”[3] Dr. Slate observes many people talk of the number of baptisms or people gathered at the assemblies during short-term mission work. He questions whether these new believers will develop enough spiritual foundations to survive two to five years.[4] While some of these concerns require further exploration (space does not allow for an in-depth look at it during this short article) it is clear that the blessings of sharing the gospel, having people obey it and setting them on solid Biblical ground to grow upon is the most critical matter at hand.

There is a serendipitous relationship while short-termers are on the mission field. The host-receivers benefit in many specific ways, chief among them becoming Christians. Short-term missionaries also benefit in numerous ways.


[1] Peterson, Aeschliman, and Sneed, Maximum Impact Short-Term Mission, 168.

[2] Livermore, Serving With Eyes Wide Open, 106-107.

[3] Schnabel, Paul the Missionary, 439-440.

[4] Slate, “Short-Term vs. Long-Term Missions,” 3.

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