Books like Revolution in World Missions and When Helping Hurts have many youth pastors and church leaders ready to throw out the baby with the bathwater of short-term trips. We calculate the $3,000 it costs to send a student to Honduras for a week and start to squirm thinking about all the good we could do with those funds in Honduras—if only the student stayed home.
I'm an advocate for wise stewardship and for doing away with our old colonial approach to missionary efforts. But I'm also concerned youth are getting left out of opportunities to be involved in the global church. Isn't there a place for students in this new paradigm of sustainability?
Of course, I understand why people balk at the traditional model of youth service trips, which usually goes something like this:
Spend a week in West Virginia or Mexico building a house and maybe running vacation Bible school for some local kids. Leave at the end of the week with lots of teary-eyed students, never to return. Repeat next year—just in a sexier location to make sure even more students will participate.
It isn't hard to see that this model is self-focused and unproductive.
Still, there are some good reasons why our church has opted to continue with our short-term mission trip program.
Aside from my suspicion that many who give to fund a student's trip wouldn't give to local and global missions otherwise, let me offer some of the less pragmatic reasons you shouldn't cancel next year's trip.Read the rest.