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Review of Articles 1-6

Recent studies have shown that short-term missions have exploded and will continue to multiply. Huge amounts of resources (people, time, and money) have been poured into this effort. There are numerous benefits to short-term missions, but such mission work also has its critics.

Short-term missions involve pre-field, on-field and post-field actions. There is no consensus on the amount of pre-training needed before going on a short-term mission. However, there is a danger of false teaching if short-term missionaries are sent out to soon.

On-field work of missionaries includes teaching the gospel and is often accompanied by benevolent works. A proper Biblical understanding of teaching, evangelism, and benevolence is needed if a missionary is to accomplish these tasks. Without this scriptural foundation, missionaries could lead others astray.

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

The Biblical example of missions is not one of dependency or paternalism. When Paul planted churches you do not read of him supplying for their every physical need, building programs and leaving foreign missionaries for decades to prop up the church. You can read of these new churches sending aid to other churches and being known for their benevolence (II Corinthians 8) and outreach. Paul did not abandon these brethren (Acts 15:36). Paul visited the new Christians, prayed for them, wrote to them and encouraged them in their faith. All things that today we can do as well, without breeding dependency.

Post-field is a vital time for church leaders to follow up with missionaries in order to actualize their new gifts and abilities. There is a serious lack of follow up among these leaders. Church leaders have a serious need for teachers that the short-term missionaries could fill.

Post Field

Christ is the great Life-changer. The church is His means of changing the world from pagan to seeker, seeker to believer, believer to disciple, disciple to teacher, teacher to missionary, and leader.[1] Post-field is the period of time immediately after the mission trip until the next mission. This is the period churches have the greatest potential for follow up that can result in lifetime results. There are many different follow-up actions churches can take during post-field, including: private and public debriefing and reporting, career path counseling for short-term missionaries who now feel compelled to go into full time ministry, practical benevolence or service opportunities with people inside and outside the congregation, discipleship or evangelism opportunities, opportunities to start new ministries, further missions training, and follow-up with host-receivers.

Many churches, however, do not conduct adequate follow up with short-term missionaries or those they reached out to the gospel with. Bryan Slater, researched the question of whether short-term missionaries were debriefed upon their return, and if they were, how was it done, and how was the congregation involved.[2]A full 52% did not do any follow-up meetings with the missionaries. Some of the churches (14%) did not even receive a report from the mission work. It is clear from this study that some church leaders are not following up with short-term missionaries.

If appropriate follow-up work was done with short-term missionaries by churches, could their skills be used teaching in the local church? Robert Lingle wrote a dissertation on how short-term mission volunteers impact the local church.[3] He found that participation in short-term missions help missionaries in the Bible teaching program of the church. Bob Mathis, wrote: “Church leaders say that their church can’t grow because they just don’t have any people who could be teachers or workers. God has sent people to the church who could (if asked) … be wonderful Bible teachers.” Dr. Elam said elders have the responsibility of leadership in recruiting workers to teach the gospel.[4]

Systematic teacher and leader training has fallen on hard times in many congregations. A key to helping church members participate and lead in teaching is to train them and get them to use their experiences. People who do convert ideas and values into tangible actions. Dr. Livermore wrote 85% of churches are led by people with no training in ministry.[5] Short-term missionaries are those who are trained (pre-field), participate in action (on-field experience) but need follow up by church leaders (post-field) to actualize their skills.

Post-field is also an invaluable time to follow up with those to whom the gospel was sent. Paul did not plant a congregation, rejoice and then abandon them. He spent fervent time in prayer for them, wrote to them constantly to encourage them in their faith and warn them of dangers (especially false teachers). He also visited them as often as the Lord permitted. Today there are many resources we have to follow-up with recent converts. In addition to visiting them as often as possible, we can send capable brethren to teach, write letters, make phone calls, send emails, use skype to conduct Bible classes, etc. After the congregation matures elders can be appointed and then they can reach out and plant congregations.


[1] Yount, The Teaching Ministry of the Church. 2nd ed., 452.

[2] Bryan Slater, “The Role of Short-Term Missions.”

[3] Robert Lingle, “How Returning Short-Term Mission Volunteers Impact the Local Church”(DMin diss., 2003), 10-11, TREN.

[4] Elam, The Mission Cry of the New Millennium, 92.

[5] Livermore, Serving With Eyes Wide Open, 41.

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