Joel!!! Good question! I'm doing a research project with Dr. Crumley regarding effects, motivation,etc. of generosity in short-term missions. We should catch up. I'd love to hear your post Ethiopia thoughts on this topic!
I believe that if it is well organized, brings a decent number of people, and there is a good amount of work available, a one or two week mission trip is quite effective. When you add to this the fact that many more people are able to go on a short term trip than a long term one, I think the existence of such trips has had a huge impact on the amount of mission work that has been done. Of course, the fact still remains that it carries with it the side benefit of "tourism" but I don't see anything wrong with that in principle, as long as the emphasis is still mission.However, I do realize that a high degree of organization is necessary to be effective, and this can often cost more money than a longer term trip, with fewer people, that might accomplish the same amount of work. I think, however, without going into detail, that there are situations that are suited to each type of trip, and that the world as a whole benefits from as many mission trips as we can *effectively* conduct. Finally, if we don't spend our money on traveling to areas in need and serving them, whether short or long term, what will we end up spending it on? Might we end up touring without serving, or something equally non-beneficial?
Sometimes. From my experience I have noticed two main influencing factors - the motives of the mission trip participants and the perceptions of the local residents (which is, of course, influenced strongly by their barometer readings of the expressed motives). Our motives are sometimes more clearly discerned by others then ourselves; a non-christian can smell attitudes of pride / pity from miles away. But when they see genuine friendship extended, the simple acknowledgment of brothership, and a willingness to tread their path together - this is what will plant hope in both hearts! While it may be easier to accomplish this over a longer period of time I certainly do agree with John that there is a place for both long and short term trips.
When in Chad, I heard this explanation of the difference between long and short term mission trips: short-term mission trips are more for the participants' benefit (spiritually) and long term mission trips are more beneficial for the local people. I agree with Caitlin; I would say that motives of the short-term mission trip participants are a large determining factor. So I don't think that I would equate short-term trips with Christian tourism, but it's probably not far off for a great majority of people.
Yeah, I think I agree with you. I just want us to be thinking about how we can make short-term trips meaningful.
I went on a few short term mission trips during my teen years and I have to identify them as some of the most significant moments of my blossoming Christian experience. They were specifically designed for teens as an adventure and an opportunity to help others. I agree with Kristin's comment how short term are more for the participants' benefit. As a young teenager I saw that God cared about our little trip and wanted a relationship with me. I would not change those experiences for anything and would recommend all young people to try to have that experience if they can. The trips I went on were really well done and I experienced things that stretched me and saw what we as believers could do if we were all united with one goal.Perhaps one way to make short-term mission trips more meaningful is to make them more local. Make a mission trip go to a local city or more common location rather than an "exotic" location. That would preserve the experience but also take away the novelty or tourism factor.