Short-Term Missions – Amazing, Diverse, Life-Changing

Guatemala 2013 495

Short-term missions trips are amazing experiences, but they are all a little different.

I can remember going on week-long missions trips with my high school youth group.  Without fail, every year was not the same.  There were some elements that seemed to follow us from year to year.  For example, if memory serves me correctly, 4 out of 5 years which I went on this trip there was some type of blow-up on Thursday night.  This is probably not that unusual when you take 20-30 teenagers for a week away from home.  They get sleep deprived and homesick, and something is bound to snap.  Besides this though, these trips were all different.  We served different people in different locations.  There were different themes that emerged from each trip, and we came home with different stories from our experiences.

In less than one week, our family will be returning to Santo Domingo Xenacoj for the third summer in a row.  We have ideas about what we will experience and about what our serving opportunities will look like based on our previous experiences.  But here’s the reality:  this trip will be different from the previous trips.

Different can be a little scary, but it can also be very exciting.

If you haven’t been on a short-term missions trip, I would encourage you to go.  The experience will change your life.

Here are 3 simple ways to find out more about taking your first short-term missions trip:

  1. Find out if your local church has any plans to take a short-term missions trip in the near future.  Ask your pastor.  Ask other church goers.  If they are, attend an informational meeting about the trip.  Going to an informational meeting doesn’t mean you are going, but it’s a great way to get information about short-term missions.
  2. Attend a missions night at your church.  After I returned from short-term missions trips with my high school youth group, our group had the opportunity to share about our experiences with the congregation.  I think this was a healthy discipline for our youth group and for our church.  These missions nights gave teenagers an opportunity to keep processing their experience.  It also gave the church an opportunity to learn more, to be encouraged to keep sending teenagers to serve others, and to be inspired to go serve themselves.  This is a great reminder for us as we embark on our trip to Guatemala.  When we return, we should have some type of missions night either at our church or at our home.  People at home need to hear our story.
  3. Talk to a friend who has gone on short-term missions trips before.  A great way to learn more about missions trips is to ask someone who has gone before.  People’s experiences will all be very different, so talk to multiple people.  You will get a different flavor and different information depending on who you speak with.  (Here’s the deal though:  they won’t fully be able to relay their experience to you.  At some point, you will have to go and experience it for yourself.)  If you have any questions about going on your first short-term missions trip, you can reach out to me.  I’d be glad to help you learn more.

If you have been on a short-term missions trip, I would encourage you to go on another trip.  The experience of going again will change your perspective on many things including short-term missions.

To give you a taste of our past trips to Guatemala, here are two videos recapping each trip.  You’ll see that our experience was very different each time we went.

Have you ever gone on a short-term missions trip?  Tell me about your experience.

Have you been on more than one missions trip?  How were the trips different for you?