Last week, we explored four benefits of serving on a short-term missions team. Check out Part 1 here. We’re back with four more reasons to give your time, effort, and money to missions.
5. To grow your own faith community. I love watching brotherhoods and sisterhoods form and forge deeper on short-term trips. Traveling together, eating together, fellowshipping together, serving together, and sleeping in the same room foster an environment where relationships can thrive. There is a qualitative difference in community among those in my ministry who serve on short-term teams.
6. To better reach your local area. Those who serve on a short-term trip oftentimes return with a new vision to better reach their own local community. In this sense, what happens on short-term missions doesn’t usually stay on short-term missions.
7. To better know how to pray. Serving in another context literally opens our spiritual eyes to the work of the gospel in another place. My church members who serve on a short-term trip pray with a much more enlightened and intentional focus than they would have otherwise done.
8. To see the world. This might be the last thing on people’s minds, but I think it’s important. I’ve heard the charge, “Mission trips are simply glorified vacations!” Perhaps some of them are; and church leaders must guard against unproductive mission trips. However, we must resist pointing to bad examples as a reason to not “see the world.” Every trip I lead, I always build in a free day (usually at the end of the week) to see some of the sights. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the locale, debrief with your team, and see the world. (As someone who grew up in rural Mississippi, I still gasp when I think about the fact that I’ve stood on the Great Wall of China 9 times!)
The benefits of serving on a mission team extend far beyond the trip itself. I hope these eight reasons help you have a more comprehensive view of serving on a short-term team.
Chris James serves as Boston Collegiate Coordinator for the Baptist Convention of New England where he serves as Pastor of Mill City Church & Christian Student Fellowship, a multi-site ministry reaching students at UMASS Lowell. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi (BA) and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv).