Kara Powell spoke during the final session at Shift this afternoon. Powell is the director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. She began by bursting a pretty big bubble. Many churches have gotten involved in short term missions trips (STMs) that often involve a service project in a developing country. But are these trips making any real difference?
The research isn't encouraging. Powell shared about how those being served by North American church groups often feel demoralized by our service, and how many wished these churches would simply send the funds so they could do the work themselves. On the flip side, evidence suggests these trips are having a minimal impact on students as well. In an article she wrote called "If We Send Them, Will They Grow?" she concluded that students who go on STMs are not more likely to become long-term missionaries, and it doesn't impact their materialistic lifestyles.
Powell said a lot of our local and international ...1