Making a Difference in a Globalized World: Short-term Missions that Work

by Laurie Occhipinti. Rowman & Littlefield, 2014.

During the second half of the twentieth century, congregations and colleges began to invest time, funding and personnel in developing short-term mission trips. The trips generally last from a week to ten days and give missioners (primarily but not exclusively young people) the opportunity to visit a global area of need and invest themselves in service. These could be short term building projects, educational opportunities, evangelical enterprises, and others. These trips are largely made possible through modern transportation and generally occur during school breaks. A question rarely debated is: do they work? Laurie Occhipinti, professor of anthropology at Clarion University, has made an extensive evaluation. Her conclusion is a qualified “yes” - if the goals of the mission are clearly researched, carefully planned and creatively led. A central issue is whether the mission will really help those served - both participants and recipients. The creation of intentional partnerships with host agencies and groups can help ensure creative cultural exchange. Leaders considering a short-term mission trip can greatly benefit from this helpful guide.