This is the last assigned reading: chapter 21 from Evangelism, “Short-Term Missions: Supporting Those We Sent.” It’s a fitting conclusion to an already great book on evangelism, since this chapter deals explicitly with what we, as a missions team, are trying to accomplish. There are many ideas of what a short-term missions trip ought to look like, and how we as a church do it is very different than what a lot of churches do. That doesn’t make it necessarily right (but could be seen as problematic), but it’s been a blessing to know that our church does not simply go with the flow of how things are done, especially when there are a lot of practices within the church that are done simply for the sake of tradition. No biblical considerations are cited as to why certain things are done, and this includes the way missions is done.
This chapter has the healthy tone of dealing with misconceptions many may have with regards to short-term missions, giving some biblical guidelines to remedy the problem. Seeing short-term missions as a replacement for long-term missions, or as a valid form of church planting, or for immature believers to become more mature, or as a poor use of funds are to have accepted an unbiblical view(s) of what many churches seek to do faithfully. What the apostle Paul did on his missionary journeys could be called “Paul’s STM trips” (p. 297). What Paul tried to do is stated well by Clint Archer:
“Some of Paul’s journeys were neither church planting nor primarily evangelistic in nature. Instead he had a goal of encouraging those who were in the church plants” (p.297).
Citing Acts 15:36, he later writes, “This is what STMs do best: encourage, minister, and bring resources to those who are laboring for the gospel away from home” (p. 298). He then goes through the goals of STMs, which is always to reinforce the long-term missionaries’ goals and assist them. How we do that is by selecting the right target (five groups: the missionary, the local believers, the sending church, the local unbelievers, and the STM traveler), the right task (evangelism, labor, camps, and/or specialized ministry), and the right team (spiritually qualified, skilled, and at least one who has travel experience).
This chapter helped reaffirm the plans we have in mind as we go out to Argentina and be a support to Pastor Jorge and IBM. We always hope and pray that we would be of service to them out of obedience to Christ and His truth. Hopefully, that is accomplished on this trip and we can continue to be of service where we are in our own homes and communities. Soli Deo Gloria!