Edited Image 2016-03-08 20-32-35


For a quick overview of how to do short-term missions well, Sarita Hartz at A Life Overseas blog has provided ten helpful tips on what to do and what not to do.

Short Term Missions.com, a ministry of Mission Data International, has a series of articles on short-term missions trips. Additionally, it contains a search function, allowing site visitors to search through their database of mission trips from various agencies.


A Guide to Short Term Missions: A Comprehensive Manual For Planning an Effective Mission Trip by H. Leon Greene, M.D.

By far the best book I have found on short-term missions, this book provides practical information on the pros and cons of short-term missions, the elements of a good mission team, the determination of gifting and call of participants, the costs of short-term missions, the steps in preparation, and the effects of culture shock and reverse culture shock and balances this practical information with the importance of maintaining the correct perspective and remaining flexible. There is also an extensive appendix containing a preparation timeline and principles, information on preparing a testimony, a checklist of things to take, steps in forming a mission team, information on how to stay healthy and be properly prepared for emergency situations, and a substantial list of books for further reading.

Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions: Doing It Right! edited by Robert J. Priest

A compilation of over twenty articles on various aspects of missions, this book covers a broad range of topics, including a brief history of short-term missions (STM), an overview of trends in STM, various case studies of STM teams, legal issues related to STM, the effects of culture shock and reverse culture shock on team members, ways to create lasting positive change in STM participants, and an examination of how short-termer can "travel in ways that honor God's redemptive purpose."

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help and How to Reverse It by Robert D. Lupton

Drawing on his experience in urban ministry in Atlanta, Lupton explains how charitable giving can and often does cause more harm than good to the communities that individuals are wanting to help because, "Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiative may well be the kindest way to destroy people." Instead, he espouses community development which focuses on working with those in need, identifying and building on local assets, identifying what the local community sees as the most important needs, investing with the poor, developing local leadership, and working at a pace that the community is comfortable with in order to bring about lasting change.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Corbett and Fikkert explain that an incomplete definition of poverty in terms solely of material poverty in combination with the God-complexes of the materially non-poor and the feelings of inferiority of the materially poor lead to harm being done to both the materially poor and non-poor. They articulate strategies to develop policies and programs that will help a community by addressing both broken systems and broken individuals using a highly relational approach.

Serving With Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence by David A. Livermore

Livermore attempts to bring awareness to the blind spots in short-term missions by "examining the perspectives and assumptions we bring to our cross-cultural practices." He begins by taking a broad view of the world in contrast to the more narrow perspective of the West, goes on to examine conflicting perspectives on short-term missions between the global church and North Americans, and concludes by exploring how to effectively apply cultural intelligence to short-term missions.

After the Trip: Unpacking Your Crosscultural Experience by Cory Trenda

Trenda attempts to assist those returning from short-term missions trips in synthesizing their "experiences into actionable lessons that can, over time, actually change one's life trajectory." He encourages returnees to take time to process their experiences, to record stories of people and events that powerfully impacted them, to consider Scripture from the perspective of Christ-followers from other cultures, to seek an understanding of those who are different from us and the ways that all people from every culture are the same, to look for opportunities to foster ongoing interactions in cross-cultural experiences, and to find ways to be an advocat within your sphere of influence.