Short-term mission trips are big business. According to a recent article in Relevant Magazine, every year in the United States more than 1.5 million people spend close to $2 billion going on a short-term mission trip. Indeed,over the last several years these trips seem to have become something of a rite of passage for young Christians to solidify their faith while making an intensive two week (or more) contribution to the Kingdom of God.
However, a growing number of Christians have been expressing reservations about the trend. While I recognize the good in short-term missions, I’ve also had my concerns. I gained further clarity on my own concerns recently while watching a CBC Doc Zone documentary called “Volunteers Unleashed” which examines the growing industry of “voluntourism” which integrates volunteering in a foreign territory as part of a vacation experience. It would appear that short-term missions is a Christian version of voluntourism, and many of the problems with the practice generally would be concerns with short-term missions as well.
If you’re thinking about a short-term mission for yourself or somebody else, you might want to view the documentary as part of your preparation. The two articles I linked to above would be helpful as well. Short-term missions are neither all good nor all bad: instead, as with so much in life, the truth lies somewhere in between.
You can visit the website for “Volunteers Unleased” here or watch it below at a YouTube link.