Close this search box.

A History of Short-Term Missions Associated with Churches of Christ in North America

Author: C. Philip Slate
Published: February 2012

MD 3.1

Article Type: Peer Reviewed Article

Short-term foreign missions by North American Churches of Christ began in the early 1960s, slightly later than but parallel to Evangelical developments. Initially, whether large or small, they were all evangelistic. Within three decades STMs became more numerous and more diverse: medical, construction, instruction, and evangelistic efforts were all called “missions.” Effectiveness also varied; some were well organized and well executed while others were amateurish with very limited benefits. Currently, STMs remain quite numerous and diverse in nature and purposes.

The subject of this article is restricted to North America, because members of Churches of Christ in other countries are also engaging in short-term missions (hereafter STMs), though to a lesser degree than in North America. Further, although the focus is on Churches of Christ, the study will make some reference to the Protestant experience with STMs since, especially among the Evangelicals, similar dynamics and categories of concerns are found in both groups. Moreover, both groups experience successes and failures.

When participants in STMs undertake biblical justification for the activity, they point routinely to Jesus’ sending out of both the twelve (Matt 10:1-42) and the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-20) on a short-term basis.1 Others would refer to the short-term evangelistic and church-planting journeys of the apostle Paul and his companions. In many cases, however, leaders and participants undertake STMs on the basis of various pragmatic assumptions: “more workers will hasten the progress” or “with many abilities we can have a greater impact,” and so forth.

The Beginnings

Members of Churches of Christ have undertaken numerous short-term efforts within North America for many years, though not called “short-term missions.” Many groups and individuals have been sent or have gone voluntarily to help small churches with vacation Bible schools, to repair or erect a church buildings, to contact people in homes and streets to advertise a forthcoming evangelistic effort—all to accent local church work. In the 1940s and 1950s, Andy T. Ritchie, Jr. led students from Harding College during the summer periods to various places in the USA and Canada to make contacts during the day and support the evening evangelistic meetings. But STM work outside of North American is another story. Prior to the 1960s, most of the workers who went out on “mission trips” headed to distant countries with plans for long-term work.2

North American Protestants point to 1945 as the beginning date of short-term international work because in that year the Board of Foreign Missions of the Methodist Church became the major initiator of that type of effort.3 As for Churches of Christ, Barney Morehead claimed “the first planned campaign of this generation” occurred in 1929 when Mr. & Mrs. S. P. Pitmann from Nashville visited Japan and joined six American missionaries and fifty Japanese Christians in the city of Ota. “This effort included personal work, tract distribution, and street preaching.”4

Otis Gatewood, American missionary to Germany following World War II and a prominent promoter of global evangelism in the late 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, claimed that the 1961 campaign in London, England was the first full-fledged effort outside of North America both planned and conducted primarily by North American personnel.5 Through discussions with an English evangelist, Leonard Channing, the Hillsboro congregation of Nashville, TN conceived the idea as early as 1959 of planting a church two years later in the Wembley section of northwestern London. They decided to begin the effort with a “campaign for Christ” with workers going door-to-door during the daytime in an effort to advertise the meeting and, when possible, set up studies with the local people. Each evening for nearly three weeks in June, Batsell Barrett Baxter, preacher at Hillsboro and professor at David Lipscomb College, would preach. About thirty-five guest workers from the USA and Canada participated in that effort. Both the Christian Chronicle and Gospel Advocate gave ample coverage to this new mode of evangelizing outside of North America.6 In the same location the Hillsboro church conducted a similar campaign in the summer of 1963 in which a much larger number of people of all ages, from teens to those in their seventies, engaged in the daily work. The time was divided between Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire (some 30 miles away) and Wembley, with less tangible results from those efforts than from the 1961 thrust. In those early campaigns it was already clear to those who did evaluations that some principle of “diminishing return” emerged when more people spent less time in short-term work, at least in the UK.7

Soon after those two initial short-term campaign-type evangelistic efforts occurred, several others from the USA began leading such groups to other parts of the British Isles, especially England and Scotland. Fred Walker of Lipscomb led a group from Tennessee to Glasgow, Scotland, as did Ivan Stewart. A group from the Broadway church in Lubbock, TX went to Liverpool, England, and another group went to Edinburgh, Scotland with George Bailey of Abilene, TX preaching each evening. All of these occurred in the British Isles in the 1960s. Results were mixed.8

The number of short-term efforts mushroomed within a decade or so as various people led “campaigns for Christ” to several English-speaking countries, including Australia and New Zealand; and similar efforts were conducted in various cities in the USA. All of those efforts, at home and abroad, were evangelistic in nature. At that time (unlike today) “missions” meant “evangelizing.”


Several things seem to have fostered those early international efforts. Theologically, members of Churches of Christ had convictions that people were lost without Christ and that they needed to be taught the gospel of Christ. Further, after the Second World War several cultural conditions made possible the efforts. The War sensitized people to a larger world, and international travel had become more available and affordable after the War than before. Churches of Christ were numerically larger than ever and the national economy enabled churches and members to have more funds for various uses. Additionally, going on a short-term basis and doing what they were able to do gave ordinary people the opportunity to help with the task of evangelizing outside of North America, previously not possible on a short-term basis. Further, a more competent and visionary leadership had emerged from growing churches and several decades of work by the various Christian colleges and universities. For some of the same reasons there was a huge jump in the number of long-term missionaries who went out at that time.9

Evangelical Parallels

A comparison to the development of Evangelical STMs is useful at this point. In the 1960s “a Chandler survey of 85 predominately evangelical mission boards disclosed that in 1965 only about two percent of their personnel were considered short-term (appointments usually between three months to two years).”10 By 1970 the percentage had increased significantly. Specifically, in 1965 some 580 persons were involved in short-term missions, but by 1970 their number had increased to almost 4,000. At the same time long-term personnel experienced a slight decrease. By 1973 short-term personnel comprised between 10% and 12% of the total work force of 118 US mission boards that made short-term appointments.11 In the first twelve years of the Evangelical Missions Quarterly (1964-1976), no less than twenty articles on short-term missions appeared. From 1979 to 1989 the number of short-term workers increased 600%, from 20,000 to 120,000 among Evangelicals. Church periodicals urged people to turn vacations into vocations.12 By the mid-1980s it was estimated that over half of the Evangelical overseas personnel were short-termers. The number of organizations which promoted short-term missions grew in the 1980s from a dozen or so to 450.13 It is noteworthy, however, that some missions boards made no provisions for short-term efforts. In addition to North American efforts, Evangelicals from Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa, and other countries were engaging in STMs.14 Many organizations that specialize in short-term work had sprung up, like the STEM Ministries in Minneapolis.15 Numerous publications are now available; indeed, their number is legion. They include training manuals for both visiting workers and hosts. Today, wisely or not, welcome or not, thousands of Evangelical people and millions of dollars are involved in short-term missions annually.

For Churches of Christ in the USA the data are not as complete as they are for Evangelicals, but the available evidence reveals many parallels. In 1973, Churches of Christ could count 1,623 active missionaries outside the country, practically all long-term workers.16 That number gradually decreased for several reasons while the number of short-term workers increased. In an average year after the fall of the Iron Curtain there may have been as many as 5,000 or more persons from Churches of Christ in the USA and Canada who raised funds to go on STM trips. When students from the Christian colleges and universities are counted with preachers who went on preaching/teaching trips to India and the former Soviet Union annually, and the very large number of young and older people who went to Belize, Mexico, Honduras, the West Indies and the British Isles with church groups, the number easily reached 5,500 to 6,000 or more in the 1980s and 1990s. For the 20th edition of the Missions Handbook, the 2007-2009 edition, Missions Resource Network (Bedford, TX) reported that Churches of Christ had 695 people who were serving 4+ years while those serving less than one year were 7,790. Tentmakers numbered 14. Churches of Christ ranked 5th in the number of short-term workers sent out.17 The most recent count (2011) indicates there are around 450 family units involved in long-term work outside the USA.18 In other words, if two workers are counted for each family unit, Churches of Christ may currently have nearly ten times as many people involved in short-term as in long-term work. Two factors only slightly mitigate this reduction in the number of full-time workers. First, the bulk of current evangelistic work in India, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and possibly Asia is conducted by nationals. That is an occasion for rejoicing. Second, some American missionaries completed their assigned tasks and returned to the USA, leaving behind functional churches.

Diversification in Forms and Purposes

Initially, practically all short-term work was evangelistic in intent and practice. In recent decades, however, STMs have taken on very different forms with varies purposes among both Churches of Christ and Evangelicals. Evangelistic efforts themselves have varied. Michael Landon’s “descriptive analysis” of evangelistic efforts reduced short-term works in the 1980s to four types: (A) College or Preacher Training School students who do door-to-door work in English; (B) Older people in large numbers, as with Ivan Stewart’s and Fred Walker’s groups who do door-to-door work; (C) Multi-age adults in smaller groups who seek to teach; and (D) Preachers who go to developing countries to provide teaching at a higher level for national preachers, teachers, and other Christian workers.19 Landon did not study the non-evangelistic STMs.

Certainly since the 1980s “missions trips” have proliferated in both number and nature. STM groups began to go out from churches, schools, and campus ministries. For many years groups of university students from Texas A&M have gone on STM trips, especially to Thailand. In recent decades many have gone out under the auspices of Eastern European Missions for a variety of purposes. But multiple individuals, too, have mustered groups to go with them. Some entities were created to promote and operate short-term work fully or partially. Cases in point are Let’s Start Talking, Demar Elam’s Open Door Ministry, Health Talents International, and groups that mobilize people to go to China to teach English in the universities and speak of Christ as they have opportunities. Such entities may or may not do their work under the auspices of a congregation or a school. The diversification of forms and purposes was seen in groups’ going out to build or repair buildings, provide medical and health care, teach English as a means of making contacts, work with youth or orphans, do camp work, disciple people, plant churches, strengthen churches, do research, build water towers, and sing in the plaza to attract people—all billed as “missions trips.” People in large churches who answer requests for help on “missions trips” are familiar with the plethora of requests for financial support of a wide variety of “missions opportunities.” I once answered a request from a 16-year-old girl who had already made 12 trips to Mexico and wanted to go again. She gave no details about what she planned to do. Specific terminology, however, reduces confusion. For example, when health care workers conduct “medical mission” they identify what they plan to do.

At some point STMs ceased to restrict themselves to English-speaking areas. They began going to areas where they could not speak the language. In such cases students often learn a few songs in the local language. Others use local translators when there are no bilingual people in their group. Some efforts assume the dual roles of compassionate service and evangelism, or medical work and evangelism. Yet, in cases where the visiting workers do not know the language they are largely “advertisers” or interest creators while local men do the preaching. In some cases “medical missions” are undertaken where the purpose is to help hurting people in various ways while attaching their works to the local church to enhance its image or identity. In other cases students have gone on “mission trips” to do little more than “play with the children” or to be “good examples.” Thus, among the current plethora of short-term “missions” one may find efforts that range from serious evangelism to helpful medical service to little more than manual work that local people could do at a fraction of the cost of sending in foreigners. One university allowed upperclassmen to lead spring break campaigns. In one case, the students went to Haiti to “help” at an orphanage, but when they arrived the orphanage did not know they were coming and had nothing for them to do. Thus, the spread of STMs has been very diverse.

Even without appropriate evaluation, it is clear that some short-term efforts have been successful in achieving their goals while others have failed. As a general rule it seems very difficulty to plant a viable new church by short-term efforts alone.20 Yet, Dr. Tommy South and members of the Glen Allen church in Virginia succeeded in planting a church in the Ukraine through a series of short-term efforts. Dr. South insisted that they followed Paul’s model in working among the Thessalonians. Their work groups, usually very small, had the advantage of making repeated visits over several years that enabled ongoing teaching and more meaningful relationships with local people.21

On the other hand, a retired military career man led a large number of workers to a city in the former Soviet Union. They talked about the large number of contacts they made, but a longer-term worker in that city followed the man and his group to the airport in a fruitless effort to obtain the list of contacts. The point seemed to be to go on a mission trip more than to help the local church.

A long-term missionary in a Moscow congregation informed me in 1993 that short-term groups from the USA would announce to him that they were coming at a specific time. They had their own agenda and never asked what had been done before or what was needed. After several of those experiences a local Russian member asked the long-term worker, “When are we going to study something besides Acts? We have been through it four times!” That insensitivity to local needs and circumstances is also illustrated well by an incident reported by Michael Anthony. He led a group whose goal was to dig an irrigation ditch, although they had not consulted with local people. They worked hard, Anthony reported, but when they arrived back home they realized all they had done was to dig a ditch. When Anthony returned the next year he found that the ditch had been filled in!22

When STM personnel have gone out with insufficient missiological insights and personal preparation, all sorts of failures and damages have occurred, and often the workers have never realized it. Ethnocentrism, cultural arrogance, displays of wealth, insensitivity to local culture, sub-standard motives, and a number of other blunders have made many short-term efforts more harmful than helpful in the long run. Even compassionate medical workers have had to be careful about the kind of treatments they give lest they infringe on local physicians’ income. These types of incidents lead to the next consideration: evaluating the effectiveness of STMs.

Assessment/Evaluation in Historical Perspective

Many short-term efforts have been at least partially successful in reaching their stated goals. Others have not. But any history of STMs by members of the Churches of Christ must notice a marked lack of realistic evaluations and assessments of their work. Where assessments have been made they evidently have not been written up except perhaps in unpublished papers. Some group leaders have assessed their work and sought to tweak it for greater effectiveness; few seem to have raised the larger questions about the achievement of desired aims and the balance between expenditures, efforts, and definable results. Of the STMs this study considers, several seemed to have only a hazy idea about their objectives since they were never stated. A local preacher in a Western European country told me, “We have hosted these campaigns year after year. Once finished, our local people are worn out and the church has not increased at all over the years.” The STMs were evidently doing more good for the visiting students than for the local church.

Part of the difficulty of assessment is that there is a tendency to evaluate too few components of the STMs to make much difference. Peterson sees short-term missions as having eight dimensions: the time spent in the effort, the nature of the activity, the size of the group, on-field location, participant demographics (age, abilities, and qualifications), sending institutions, ministry philosophy, and leadership/training.23 Realistic evaluations would take into consideration all of these components.

The Evangelical STEM organization evaluated its own work and produced the Leader’s Guide and a study document, Can Short-Term Missions Really Produce Long-Term Career Missionaries?.24 To the basic question raised in the document they give a qualified affirmative answer, providing such STMs follow their recommendations about careful preparation prior to leaving, strategically guided activities on the field, and meaningful debriefing processes after arriving home. Interestingly, they insist that the last step may be the most critical for long term benefits to the workers. Massaro makes the same point: “One of the most important dimensions of any short-term mission is careful reflection at the end of the experience.”25 Among the plethora of books on STMs several are experience-oriented, indicating that the authors have learned something from their efforts that they want to pass on. Many writers readily admit that they have seen their share of irresponsible, ill-planned, and poorly managed projects. Friesen reports that among the Evangelicals “concerns have been raised about the ethnocentrism, relational shallowness, self-serving impact, and overall cost of short-term missions.”26 A vital aspect of evaluation would necessarily involve feedback from the host church. The same is true for STMs generated by Churches of Christ.

Among Churches of Christ there seems to have been a notable lack of published evaluations. Usually when students return from summer or spring break campaigns they disperse to their homes or return to their classes without serious debriefing and often without reporting to donors or sending churches. Among the most responsible efforts along this line is the procedure followed by the “Let’s Start Talking” group in Fort Worth, TX.27 They have a clear set of goals or objectives, prepare workers carefully for what they are to do, put in place a good framework for activities while they are on the field, and require workers, once they return, to do three things or groups of things. Craig Altrock, staff member at LST, reports:

  1. LST sends to our missionary hosts an instant feedback form after every project to get their immediate feedback on improving future projects.  So, for example, if Natal, Brazil hosts 5 LST teams through the year then they will submit 5 instant feedback forms.
  2. LST sends to our missionary hosts an annual evaluation in which they can tell us what went wrong/right, and how to make things better.
  3. LST sends more than one annual evaluation to workers so that they can offer critique/praise on the projects as appropriate.28

That is a very responsible way of going about evaluation and assessment, although this writer has not seen the details of each instrument. Effectiveness is not the only interest in evaluation. At least some leaders and participants in STMs display no awareness of the harm they can do by irresponsible short-term missions.29 It is doubtful that LST does any harm since they make careful preparations and assessments, cooperate with hosts, and sharply define the work to be done.

A common justification for short-term work is that it contributes to the pool of long-term workers. Some studies indicate that it does,30 while research by others indicates either no long-term effects or only minimal ones.31 Obviously the form of the STMs and the manner in which they were conducted would have much to do with outcomes. Painting an orphanage or building a water tower, while good works, would not give the workers even a hint of what is involved in long-term evangelizing with accompanying church planting and development. Sunset International Bible Institute’s two-year AIM program provides more realistic exposure to long-term evangelistic work. All in all, it has not been proven to be a general rule that STMs produce more long-term workers in Churches of Christ or other churches. While many long-term missionaries have previously gone on STM trips, especially after the 1970s, it is not known to what extent those trips produced rather then simply accompanied decisions to become long-term workers. The huge number of people who made multiple short-term trips but never became long-term missionaries heightens the question. Indeed, one reason for the escalating number of short-term workers may have been simply their desire to do something to evangelize even though they had no plans to be long-term missionaries. In retrospect, the ratio of long-term workers to short-term workers seems so miniscule that persistently striving to produce full-time missionaries by STMs would be a colossal case of poor stewardship of funds. It is true that short-term efforts have produced some lasting interest in global evangelization.32 It does seem clear, however, that as the number of short-term workers increased, for both Churches of Christ and Evangelicals, there has been a decrease in the number of long-term workers. Cause and effect have not been established. Other factors may account for the decrease in the number of long-term workers.33


This has been a limited account of STMs associated with Churches of Christ. A full history of fifty years of STMs would require a standard volume. While the chief purpose of this article has not been to evaluate but to reconstruct a partial history of STMs as conducted by members of North American Churches of Christ, and to take a look at efforts to evaluate them, it is appropriate to sum up and make a few suggestions out of this history.

Overall, the results of short-term work are mixed, depending on their objectives, size, how they are conceived, preparations of workers, execution, and evaluation. But what would the past tend to indicate for the future?

First, it is likely that several short-term efforts are effective in what they undertake and are worth supporting. This would be especially true of medical work and higher levels of teaching by qualified teachers. Just this week (Dec 2011) I received an e-mail appeal for workers to go to a recently opened Asian country “to teach some of the 4,000+ Bible correspondence course students in one on one, face to face, English Bible studies” several hours per day for five days a week. Those students want to be taught further from Scripture. The appeal was for a few months, not a few days. That would likely be a good short-term effort, evangelistic in nature and tied to local churches.

Second, with the broad array of activities designated as “mission trips,” from the amateurish to the responsible, and a corresponding elastic use of the term “mission,” churches and individuals deserve to know precisely what a particular “mission trip” is designed to accomplish.34 If ten students want to raise $3,000 each to go to India only to paint an orphanage, it is hard to justify calling it a conventional “mission trip.” When everything becomes “mission,” then preaching the gospel tends to diminish or disappear.35 Careful delineations need to be made between evangelistic efforts and compassionate services. Both are important but they yield different results.

Third, those who organize and conduct short-term efforts owe it to themselves, the workers, and the host culture or church to engage in vigorous periodic and responsible assessment of their efforts. Historically, there has been a notable lack of such evaluation and assessment.

Fourth, it seems to be the case that both Evangelicals and some workers from Churches of Christ have learned by experience what the STEM organization has argued for many years, namely that effective short-term work consists of thorough and appropriate training before going on the trip, creating precise frameworks and goals for work on the field, and careful and responsible debriefing upon returning home. Potential supporters have a right to know whether these three dimensions are in place.

Fifth, although in recent years there is evidence that organizers of short-term work have learned from those who have written books and articles on the subject, an appalling number or organizers seem to form their own plans without recourse to the pool of knowledge available on short-term efforts. It seems foolish to ignore valuable information learned through trial-and-error or by research.

If short-term efforts are regarded as work for God, as service for Jesus Christ, then Christian stewardship of money, time, and people’s lives argues that these efforts need to be done well in the future.

C. Philip Slate is a missions consultant for Churches of Christ worldwide and Missions Coordinator at the North Boulevard church in Murfreesboro, TN. He holds a DMiss from Fuller Theological Seminary and has authored and co-authored numerous popular and scholarly works. Dr. Slate was a missionary in Great Britain for over a decade. He has also served as the dean of Harding School of Theology and subsequently as chair of the department of missions at Abilene Christian University. He can be contacted at


Altrock, Craig. The Shaping of God’s People: One Story of How God is Shaping the North American Church Through Short-Term Missions. Fort Worth: printed by author, 2006.

Anthony, Michael. The Short-Term Missions Boom. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

Brewer, Charles R., ed. “B. D. Morehead.” In Missionary Pictorial. Nashville: World Vision, 1966.

Corbett, Steven, and Brian F. Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself. Chicago: Moody Publishing, 2009.

Dayton, Edward, ed. Missions Handbook. 10th ed. Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1973.

Elkins, Philip W. Church-Sponsored Missions: An Evaluation. Austin: Firm Foundation, 1977.

Friesen, Randy. “Short-Term Missions.” In Encyclopedia of Missions and Missionaries, edited by Jonathan J. Bonk, 409. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Landon, Michael. “A Descriptive Analysis and Categorization of Foreign Campaigns.” MA Thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1982.

Long, Meredith. “The Increasing Role of Short-Term Service in Today’s Mission.” In Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas, edited by Edward R. Dayton, 10th ed. Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1973.

Makuku, I., and V. Calver. “Short-Term Mission.” In Dictionary of Mission Theology, edited by John Corrie, 360-62. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2007.

Massaro, Dennis. “Short-Term Missions.” In Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, edited by A. Scott Moreau, 875-76. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Maust, John. “Summer Vocation.” Latin American Evangelist 48, no. 1 (January-March, 1991): 8.

McDonough, Daniel P., and Roger P. Peterson. Can Short Term Mission Really Create Long-Term Career Missionaries? Results of STEM’s Second Major Scientific Study on the Long-Term Effect of Short-Term Mission. Minneapolis: STEMMinistries, 1999.

Palomino, Migual A. “If Everything is Mission, Nothing is Mission: Reflections on Short-Term Missions.” Journal of Latin American Theology 2, no. 2 (2007): 249-59.

Peterson, Roger, ed. Team Leader’s Notebook. 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: STEM Press, 1992.

Peterson, Roger P., and Timothy D. Peterson. Is Short-Term Mission Really Worth the Time and Money?: Advancing God’s Kingdom Through Short-Term Missions. 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: STEM Press, 1991.

Reapsome, Jim. “The Peril of Drive Thru Mission Work.” World Pulse 28, no.12 (June 1993): 12.

Slate, C. Philip. “What is a Missions Trip?” Gospel Advocate 151, no. 6 (June 2009): 31-33.

________. Field Notes, 1969-1970. Unpublished document in possession of the author.

________. Lest We Forget: Mini-Biographies of Missionaries of a Bygone Generation. Winona, MS: J. C. Choate Publications, 2010.

Thornton, Phillip, and Jeremy Thornton. “Why They Don’t Go: Surveying the Next Generation of Mission Workers.” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 44, no. 2 (April 2008): 204-10.

Ver Beek, Kurt Alan. “The Impact of Short-Term Missions: A Case Study of House Construction in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch.” Missiology 34, no. 4 (October 2006): 477-95.

Weber, Linda J., and Dotsey Welliver, eds. Missions Handbook: U. S. and Canadian Protestant Missionaries Overseas. 2007-2009. 20th ed. Monrovia, CA: MARC Publications, 2007.

1Dennis Massaro, “Short-Term Missions,” in Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, ed. A. Scott Moreau (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000), 873.

2Phillip W. Elkins, Church-Sponsored Missions: An Evaluation (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation, 1974); C. Philip Slate, Lest We Forget: Mini-Biographies of Missionaries of a Bygone Generation (Winona, MS: J. C. Choate Publications, 2010).

3 Meredith Long, “The Increasing Role of Short-Term Service in Today’s Mission” in Mission Handbook: North American Protestant Ministries Overseas, ed. Edward R. Dayton, 10th ed. (Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1973), 17.

4Charles R. Brewer, ed., “B. D. Morehead” in Missionary Pictorial (Nashville: World Vision, 1966), n. p.

5Gatewood made this statement in my hearing in London, England in 1961. Ten days before the campaign I had arrived to join Canadian E. P. Lake to build the Wembley congregation.

6From May until August numerous articles appeared in the Advocate and Chronicle. Articles and notices about the campaign also appeared in the Lipscomb College paper, The Babbler, and the local Nashville Tennessean.

7It is likely that this method of evangelizing was modeled after similar efforts in the USA. Already by 1960 several city-wide “campaigns” had been conduced along these lines, using preachers like Jimmy Allen of Harding College and Batsell Barrett Baxter of Nashville. These activities were modifications of the Billy Graham “crusades” that had been conducted for several years prior. Graham’s and Eric Hutchins’s crusades were similarly limited in effectiveness in the UK. (Interview with L. Roy Barker, Vicar of St. Mary’s [Anglican] Church, Upton, Cheshire, July 1970, in C. Philip Slate, Field Notes, 1969-70, 46-47). Barker worked closely with the Graham campaigns and served as statistician. According to Barker, methods developed in one culture did not readily transfer to another without appropriate adjustments.

8In one city the only person, of the 15 or so “converts,” who remained faithful a year later was the son of the local preacher, who would likely have become a Christian anyway.

9On these points see Elkins, 6-7.

10Quoted in Long,17.

11Long, 17. The numbers for short-term workers who went out from individual churches and para-church groups were not reported, likely because they were unknown.

12John Maust, “Summer Vocation,” Latin American Evangelist (January-March, 1991), 15. Articled adapted and reprinted from The Brethren.

13Long, 18.


15The STEM organization has produced a Team Leader’s Notebook, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: STEMPress, 1992) and two research documents: Roger P. Peterson and Timothy D. Peterson, Is Short-Term Mission Really Worth the Time and Money? Advancing God’s Kingdom Through Short-Term Mission: Results of STEM Short-Term Mission Research (Minneapolis: STEMPress, 1991) and Daniel P. McDonough and Roger P. Peterson, Can Short-Term Mission Really Create Long-Term Career Missionaries?: Results of STEM’s Second Major Scientific Study on the Long-Term Effect of Short-Term Mission (Minneapolis: STEMMinistries, 1999).

16Edward Dayton, ed., Missions Handbook, 10th ed. (Monrovia, CA, 1973), 197. This figure counts a husband and wife individually, which was appropriate.

17Linda J. Weber and Dotsey Welliver, eds., Missions Handbook: US and Canadian Protestant Missionaries Overseas. 2007-2009, 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Evangelism and Missions Information Services, 2007), 143. The figures for short-term efforts are necessarily imprecise because of the large number of individual- and church-generated short-term efforts not reported. The same situation pertains among Evangelicals since many independent churches do not report to the compilers of the Mission Handbook.

18Data from Missions Resource Network, November 2011.

19Michael Landon, “A Descriptive Analysis and Categorization of Foreign Campaigns” (MA Thesis, Harding Graduate School of Religion, 1982).

20In this connection see James Reapsome, “The Peril of Drive Thru Mission Work,” World Pulse (25 June 1993).

21Information conveyed by e-mail and personally to the author by Dr. Tommy South in 2011.

22Michael Anthony, The Short-Term Missions Boom (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 54-55.

23See footnote 15.


25Massaro, 874.

26 Randy Friesen, “Short-Term Missions” in Encyclopedia of Missions and Missionaries, ed. Jonathan J. Bonk (New York: Routledge, 2007), 410.

27A recent appeal to me by a Harding University student indicates that a very responsible approach is being taken for an extended summer STM in Chile.

28E-mail from Craig Altrock to Philip Slate, 11 November 2011.

29Steven Corbett and Brian F. Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself (Chicago: Moody Publishing, 2009). See also articles on short-term work listed on the website of World Missions Associates:

30See McDonough and Peterson. They measured changes in STM participants’ prayer, giving, education, and return to the mission field. Thus this research gives a qualified “Yes” answer to the question, providing the STMs are conducted along the lines advocated by the STEM program. See also I. Makuku and V. Calver, “Short-Term Mission” in Dictionary of Mission Theology, ed. John Corrie (Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 2007) and Craig Altrock’s DMin research reported in his The Shaping of God’s People (Fort Worth: Self, 2006), 28.

31Kurt Alan Ver Beek, “The Impact of Short-Term Missions: A Case Study of House Construction in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch,” Missiology 34, no. 4 (October 2006): 477-95.

32Peterson and Peterson, i and 28. The data for Churches of Christ are so anecdotal and unrepresentative that generalizing is not possible.

33Phillip Thornton and Jeremy Thornton, “Why They Don’t Go: Surveying the Next Generation of Mission Workers,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly 44, no. 2 (April 2008): 204-10.

34See C. Philip Slate, “What is a Missions Trip?” Gospel Advocate 151, no. 6 (June 2009): 31-33.

35Migual A. Palomino, “If Everything is Mission, Nothing is Mission: Reflections on Short-Term Missions,” Journal of Latin American Theology 2, no. 2 (2007): 249-59.

Close this search box.