Oh No, the STM-ers Are Coming!
by Al Tizon
It's that time again, when short-term missions groups (STMs) across the land are sent by their churches to share the gospel in faraway places. Regardless of what we think about this phenomenon, short-term missions is here to stay, despite wisdom offered by veteran missionaries and host pastors and well thought-out critiques such as the one leveled by Sri Lankan theologian Vinoth Ramachandra.
Don't get me wrong: I don't think STMs are completely bad. In fact, my 17-year-old daughter is going on one this summer. And as mission director of my local church, I've been encouraging us to establish a rhythm of mission that includes short-term trips. I believe there are right and wrong ways to do it; the answer is not to abandon the practice but to do with cultural sensitivity, humility, and realistic expectations. To help churches do it right, Tim Dearborn's Short-Term Missions Workbook: From Mission Tourists to Global Citizens is mandatory reading. If I had my way, no church would be allowed to send a group out without first going through this book!