by Robert J. Priest, ed.
The author takes an insightful look at the issues surrounding the largest mission initiative of our time.
(Evangelical Missiological Society Series, No. 16)
William Carey Library, 1605 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena, CA 91104, 2008, 627 pages, $16.99.
—Reviewed by Eric Hanson, international impact director, Christ Community Church of St. Charles, Illinois, and co-founder of Mission Excel.
Are we making disciples or making a disaster? The questions surrounding short–term missions (STM) are decreasingly of its legitimacy and are increasingly of its effectiveness. We cannot be zealous enough in our push to realize STM as a well-thought-out, planned, and deeply impactful endeavor. Effective Engagement in Short-Term Missions: Doing it Right! takes an insightful look at the issues surrounding the largest mission initiative of our time.
Much grace should be extended to the first-time STM developers of an agency or local church. We would be acting in a counter-productive manner to demand that they achieve the excellence worthy of the cause on their first attempt. It would not only be unrealistic, but potentially stamp out any passion for the endeavor in the first place. Just as with the long-term missionary who makes a multitude of mistakes in his or her early months and even years, surely STM novices should be extended the same grace. At the same time, there is no other endeavor that demands our earnest labor to bring continual levels of excellence than missions. Anything less would be selfish and could be considered “missions malpractice.”
Although this book reads like a classroom textbook based upon detailed research, my prayer is that the local church staff person or volunteer given the responsibility for building and implementing a STM program will take the time to read this deeply insightful collection of writings. In reading the book myself, I felt inspired to go back to the drawing board and rethink my approach and practices. Miriam Adeney’s article helped me realize how our STM program has migrated to the current projects that we employ. C. M. Brown’s chapter reinforced my desire to stick with the long-term plan of partnerships, and Kurt Alan Ver Beek’s writings put me back in the shoes of the STM first-timer.
Today, STM should be an integral part of all local churches and mission agencies. To not be involved in STM means missing out on a current strategy through which the spirit of God is breathing. At the same time, STM is probably the messiest activity anyone could possibly get involved in. Opportunities for mistakes abound. Resources such as this are too few and far between. STM practitioners must undertake their role with extreme seriousness and must put concerted thought and effort into the best practices possible to the glory of our king.
Check these titles:
Hanson, Eric and Carol. Mission Launch Team Training. www.missiontriptraining.com.
Peterson, Roger, Gordon Aeschliman, and R. Wayne Sneed. 2003. Maximum Impact Short-term Mission: The God-commanded, Repetitive Deployment of Swift, Temporary, Non-professional Missionaries, Minneapolis, Minn.: STEM Press.
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