In missions circles “short-term missions” is referred to as STMs. The following is an excerpt of an essay written by missions mobilizer, Roger Peterson.
God is on mission today—as He always has been. We’ve seen that millions are setting out each year on countless STM opportunities. What will it take to make sure that our STMs are cooperating with what God has already been doing?
1. STM leaders and participants need to realize we are not “starting” mission. When our churches or youth groups or schools or agencies gather a team and go help someone somewhere, as noble and even measurable as that help may be, we are not “starting” mission. God has always been in active pursuit of every nation and every ethne around the globe. No tribe, tongue or nation has ever been exempt. STM leaders have the job to get acquainted with what God has already been doing in that setting and discover how to join with God in advancing that work. To do that we’ll need to cultivate relationships with seasoned practitioners of short-term and long-range mission. We will do well to keep placing ourselves before God and humbly ask Him how we can join Him on today’s page of history.
2. We need to repent of our independent, I-can-do-it-by-myself attitude. We who are Americans need to challenge that inbred spirit of independence! Let’s subordinate what we would like to try to do on our own in favor of God’s ongoing global plan. Let’s search out the battle-scarred, seasoned mission agency leaders that can help us frame our STMs around the missio Dei. Let’s get our STMs vitally linked with national churches and mission agencies that have been locked in the ongoing work for generations within a particular culture and people.
3. We need to stop creating “short-term mission trips” and instead begin participating in true “short-term mission” that contributes toward fulfillment of God’s global purpose. We do this in part by holding ourselves accountable to excellence. One tool that can help is the U.S. Standards of Excellence in Short-Term Mission (see last page). By adopting these seven standards, short-term mission leaders can pledge their STM program to a helpful peer review every three years. They can improve their STM efforts through key quality indicators focused on God-centeredness, empowering partnerships, mutual design, comprehensive administration, qualified leadership, appropriate training and thorough follow-up.
If you are interested in missions and especially if you’re a team leader, I encourage you to check out the Standards of Excellence on the last page of the essay.
What are your thoughts about how we can do missions well? Anything to add to this list?