Kurt Ver Beek, assistant professor of sociology and third-world development at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, recently published a study that questioned whether short-term missionaries and those served by such missionaries experienced long-term life changes from such missions. We summarized that study and last week published a conversation between Ver Beek and Robert Priest, associate professor of mission and intercultural studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. Today, Ver Beek answers readers' questions about the study and short-term missions.

Day One | Day Two | Day Three | Day Four | Questions

What would happen without short-term missions?
What would happen without short-term missions (STM) efforts? Some people argue that American evangelicals are looking for engagement and experiences, and that this is driving the short-term missions wave. If we didn't have short-term missions projects, what would be the result? Would people find some substitute activity that engages them? If a single church opts out of the short-term missions wave, do young people and their families tend to find another church or youth group to get involved with?
- Paul E. McNamara, Urbana, Ill.

Dear Paul,

First of all it is an interesting question—what would happen without short-term missions? First, I can't envision it happening in the near future—nor would I recommend an end to all short-term missions. I think you are right: If one church decided to stop all of their STMs, many people would just look for other outlets.

What my study suggested to me (I hope you will read the study, at least the recommendations at the end) is that we need to try to make short-term missions a part of a structure that will ...

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