10 Ways To Ruin A Short Term Mission Trip

Believe it or not, it’s possible to have a bad short term missions experience. Most times, this is not the fault of the situation or organization. Often, the root cause is the short termer’s own attitudes and expectations.

To maximize your short-term experience, AVOID doing the things on this top 10 checklist:



1. Stay narrowly focused on “spiritual” activities.

Since you want to win people to Christ, focus on only the loftiest of things. Avoid menial work like data entry, loading trucks, or working on buildings. Such things will distract you from your primary task.


2. To tighten up your schedule, eliminate personal prayer and Bible study.

You will be so busy that you probably won’t have time anyway. Besides, can’t you get all the spiritual food you need from group devotions and from church services when you get home?


3. Stay organized and on schedule.

Set detailed goals before you go. Establish schedules and refuse to deviate from them. Do not accept delays, last-minute changes, and impromptu visits and invitations. Those things will just keep you from getting things done for God.


point out mistakes

4. Help the missionaries by pointing out their mistakes.

Bring them up to date on what you’ve heard are the latest trends in missions. Some missionaries are stubborn. So, you may need to enlist some support among the nationals for your views about how things should be run.

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5. Get involved romantically with someone.

Being away from family and friends makes this the perfect time to get involved romantically. While it may distract you slightly from the work, you will be able to expose national Christians to America’s progressive dating customs.


foreign language

6. Don’t embarrass yourself by trying to pick up the local language.

People are always saying that English is spoken all over the world. So, insist that those people use it with you.


7. Immediately begin pointing out your team members’ faults.

Time is short. It will be difficult for people to make the needed changes if you don’t help them right from the start. Focus your helpful criticisms on team leaders.


disgusting food

8. As you go all out in warring against dangerous germs, don’t eat any of the local food.

To be sure, you may miss some friendly opportunities with “the natives,” but you’ll keep those awful germs at bay!


9. Keep your distance from team members who couldn’t raise their full support.

They may try to mooch off you. Don’t give in. Sweating over finances builds faith!



10. When you return home, scold your home church and friends for their lack of commitment, for their weak prayers, and for their inadequate giving to missions.

This may be one of the few times you will have their deferential respect. Make the most of it.


If you’ll do all of these top 10 things (or even some of them), I can promise you a bad short term mission trip.

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Adapted from home.snu.edu

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global

David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.

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