Another Post Saying STM is a Waste of Time?

An interview with a friend

So what about all those people that say that STM is a waste of time? You might want to listen in as Mark Crocker was interviewed by Matt Janes in a flash from the recent past. Check out this podcast even if you hate (or love) Short Term Mission. If you don’t want to listen, then keep reading …


Did you hear that STM is a waste of time?

I am sure you have heard that Short Term Mission is the cause for everything that is wrong in mission today. If you haven’t been informed yet, just wait, every other month there is another article that goes viral on Facebook explaining why real Global Workers have nothing to do with STM.

It has become gospel that STM teams hurt the culture, wreck people and make a mess of mission. Trust me, I could tell you some unbelievable examples of STM teams doing insane things in the name of Jesus.

That’s when the defenders of STM get high on their horses and race into the fight. They argue that STM is the most important way of doing any mission, “It changes lives!” They spend a lot of time slaying the weak arguments of some poor writer who was just asked to write a counterpoint editorial to an article about missions.

Over the years I have tried to stay out of the flame wars. Most of the time I fail, its like watching a train wreck, you just can’t look away!


“STM is a waste of time” is the automatic response


When I think about the impact of STM, I have leaned both ways over the years. At first I thought that STM was the most amazing and vital way to change the world. Later I totally agreed with the haters who felt that STM is a waste of time. Both opinions tend to be extremes.

Now I think differently. I think that STM is nothing more than a tool. Sure, if enough people see a hammer as a weapon, then we might want to ban hammers, but what about the carpenters?

The biggest problem with thinking that STM is a waste of time, is that STM is the most popular way how people become long-term, full-time missionaries. Ask any full-timer (and I have) and the overwhelming majority say they decided to live this crazy life of mission because of that first STM trip.

Sure, none of those long-termers would do mission the same way they did it on their first STM trip, everyone clearly sees the faults, but isn’t that pretty normal? Everything is hard the first time. Whether it is riding a bike, public speaking, or cooking supper I very rarely do things the way I did it the first time. Does anyone?

The truth is that STM is a big fat easy target. There are all kinds of crazy that is done in the name of mission, but STM is the closest whipping boy. Anyone can complain about STM because there are no lasting repercussions. After all, those poor sucker volunteers who just gave up their vacation and paid their own way to get involved in some strangers lives for a couple of weeks will never be able to compete against the witty criticisms of a well written blog post, they are too busy working an extra shift to pay off the trip.

It is easy to take shots, a lot easier than showing people a better way.

Want to do better STM? You may want to check out more info about the STM Leader Certification Course.


March 15, 2018

1 responses on "Another Post Saying STM is a Waste of Time?"

  1. I really like what you say about a better way: “It is easy to take shots, a lot easier than showing people a better way.” Normally the people who say these things are people who have never been on a short term mission trip. They don’t see how it changes the team members or the individual lives that are touched. I heard a missionary tell a story about a man throwing starfish into the sea. Someone criticized that there were so many starfish on the beach that it wouldn’t make matter. He picked up a starfish and threw it out into the water and said, “It matters to this one…”
    Another thing that you said that is so right is that most people who go into missions first went on a short term team. Most of the people that I know who are preparing to go into full time missions have been on at least one short term trip. One trip may be all it takes to inspire someone for a life time.
    Last thing… when a church builds a relationship with a community somewhere and sends teams regularly it is like there was like someone there full time. The faces may be different but the commitment to the people stays strong.
    I am glad that you wrote this article because I have heard people say that mission trips are a waste of time. Now I have something to say to them.

    Great blog!

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