Sustainability in Short-Term Missions

Sending teams and money isn't enough; churches must aim for sustainable ministry.

It had been two long, hard weeks of work. We stood in the rain for hours shoveling mud, while dump truck after dump truck delivered more. Along with brothers and sisters of an impoverished community, we had poured concrete, set pillars, and ultimately constructed a new sanctuary. But was it worth it? Would this local church continue to reach the unreached? Would their congregation grow?

Well-developed short-term mission programs should place high priority on sustainability. When I say sustainability, I am talking about something different than carbon offsets and recycling programs. I am referring to the need to develop communities to maintain ministries without the indefinite support of external forces.

Western countries have been extremely generous with developing nations. Churches, governments, and NGOs have given large sums of money leading to the creation of some fantastic programs. Unfortunately, many of these programs die as soon as external funding dries up. You do not want your church ...

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