Inside Out 273: Short-Term Missions for Long-Term Impact

03.13.13 | Martha Manikas-Foster

It’s a spring ritual: when schools go on holiday, youth groups go on mission trips. It’s become almost a requirement for church groups to raise funds, pack up gear and head off to Central America to play with orphans, rebuild houses, or staff a week-long Vacation Bible School programs.

Of course short-term mission trips are not limited to teens. But these springtime send-offs prompt us to ask the same question every year: who, exactly, do these trips benefit? If our goal is to make an impact in a developing country, would the money we raise go farther if we sent it directly to the people in need? (The answer, by the way, is yes.)

But what if one of the main benefits of these trips is the potential for transforming the North Americans who fly off to build the orphanages or program the Vacation Bible Schools? The statistics don’t bear this out, but I’m sure we all know someone who now has a larger view of God’s world because of a short-term mission trip.

Today on Inside Out we’re exploring how groups might plan short-term mission trips with a mind toward long-term personal transformation.  How might we increase the likelihood that—with God’s help--at the close of these trips not only would the host ministry have another refurbished house, but the North Americans on the team would have developed a heart for God’s people in a village far away from home?

Join us for this news feature discussion with Family Life News Director Bob Price. Our guests are:

  • Gary VanderPol, Assistant Professor of Justice and Mission at Denver Seminary. Gary has analyzed the growth of evangelical relief, development and justice work among the poor over the last sixty years. He has fifteen years of personal missionary experience.
  • John Verburg, who teaches Sociology both at James Madison University and Boise State.   He has 33 years of experience as a pastor and has led 37 mission trips to South and Central America. For two years John lived in Guatemala with the job of training pastors.
  • Jim Mauk of Olean, NY, who recently returned from his second mission trip, the third trip in two years that members of the Creekside Chapel in Allegheny, NY have taken to Tacna, Peru.

Join us (by clicking on the “Listen” icon above) for our conversation on planning short-term missions for long-term impact.


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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.


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