Saturday, July 09, 2005

Study Questions Whether Short-Term Missions Make a Difference - Christianity Today Magazine

The link below will take you to a summary of a study whether Short-Term Missions make a difference. This article says that short-term missions studies usually have smaller samples than professor Ver Beek, his seems to only have interviewed people from one location. So I see it as one case study which should be used to compare with other short-term missions trips. He also look for several out comes to the experince, which look sort of like educational outcomes to me. He seems to want to change behaviors in those who went. While the outcomes seem noble to me, I would have to take some time to decided if those were the outcomes I was looking for in a short-term missions trip. I think he sees spiritual growth as being measured by quantifiables such as increased giving by the short-term missionaries and long lasting friendships. But if those were the measurement sticks by which to judge success, trip leaders could be designing those components into the trip. It seems to me trips were designed primarily to provide housing. Did they do that? Even if someone thought there was a better way to do the project, for instance send money to have locals build it, that is an obvious other path to doing this.

Short-term missions have become a force and use our resources. Professor Ver Beek brings some of his assumptions about the movement as well as his suggestions. He claims his data could be interpreted differently by others, but I would counter that examining his assumptions are more important for public discourse. Assuming that someone is going to lead a short-term missions trip what are the desirable outcomes?

If any of my readers have gone on a short-term missions trip, what were the goals of the leadership? What were your goals? Did you acheive them?

Study Questions Whether Short-Term Missions Make a Difference - Christianity Today Magazine: "Study Questions Whether Short-Term Missions Make a Difference
Missionaries don't keep giving after they return; hosts prefer money to guests, Calvin sociologist finds.
by Abram Huyser Honig | posted 06/20/2005 09:00 a.m.

Short-term mission trips to foreign countries are the biggest trend to hit the evangelical Christian outreach scene since vacation Bible school. Between 1 million and 4 million North American Christians reportedly participated in STMs in 2003, and the number keeps rising.

Praises and critiques of the trend tend to be proportionately extreme, touting STMs either as miraculous recruiters of long-term missionaries or insidious sowers of third-world dependency.

But a new study, to which I contributed the literature review, suggests both sides are off the mark.

According to Kurt Ver Beek, professor of sociology and third-world development at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, traditional STMs don't do much at all.

That conclusion might sound odd to those familiar with any of the with the 50-odd dissertations written on the subject in the last 15 years, or with Roger Peterson's well-known studies in the subject. " Click on the link to read the rest.
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