by Reviewed by Lisa Sinclair
Peterson, Aeschliman and Sneed take the whole wild and woolly world of short-term missions (STM) and define, defend, and redesign it.
By Roger Peterson, Gordon Aeschliman, and R. Wayne Sneed with Kim Hurst, ed. STEMPress, P.O. Box 386001, Minneapolis, MN 55438-6001, 2003, 283 pages, $19.99.
—Reviewed by Lisa Sinclair, associate international ministry director, United World Mission.
Peterson, Aeschliman and Sneed take the whole wild and woolly world of short-term missions (STM) and define, defend, and redesign it. The end product is a new vocabulary and a new paradigm for planning, processing, and evaluating STM endeavors.
Founded on strong biblical theology (chapters one and ten), the authors describe STM as “the God commanded repetitive deployment of swift, temporary non-professional missionaries” (p. 117). The authors are articulate and experienced STM practitioners. They passionately present the Great Commission as the task of all Christians, all ordinary “fools.” It is not the specialized work of select professionals. “Real people chosen by God are almost always perceived as weak and foolish when screened and analyzed through the routine preparatorial and procedural practices of the world” (p. 17). STM is a unique means for ordinary people to be involved in life-transforming missions, and it is greatly used by God with approximately one million short-termers deployed in 2003 alone (ch. 11).
The authors guard the biblical definition of “mission” and discourage its application to cross-cultural, self-focused trips (ch. 8). In mission, God’s kingdom and intended receptors are the focus. Unique attention is given to the common God-given experience of serendipity through the reciprocity of STM participants (ch. 7).
The authors visualize each aspect of STM using a grid format with comprehensive accompanying explanation (ch. 3-6, 9). Rich endnotes and appendices provide resources and alternative methods of visualizing and understanding the complex world of short-term missions. Although the grid work makes for dense reading, it is well worth the effort. The process trilogy (pre-field, on-field, post-field) and the participant trilogy (senders, goer-guests, and host receivers) are delineated clearly with helpful examples. The culminating “MISTM-Grid” (maximum impact short-term mission grid) provides a key to all levels of participation and process (pp. 184-5). Each grid sector is explained so as to enable the analysis of innumerable variations. New terminology may feel cumbersome or artificial, but it reflects the authors’ attention to accuracy and linguistic clarity. All terms are carefully defined and utilized effectively.
Short-term missions are here to stay. This book is a comprehensive, user-friendly reference for any short-term mission practitioner. Its theologic, missiologic, and historic underpinnings are solid and the practical applications are clear and reproducible. The authors’ scholarly work and passion for mission make a compelling read.
Check these titles:
Forward, David.1998. Essential Guide to the Short Term Mission Trip. Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.
Greene, Leon. 2003. A Guide to Short Term Missions: A Comprehensive Manual for Planning an Effective Mission Trip. Waynesboro, Ga.: Gabriel Publications.
Vancise, Martha. 1996. Successful Mission Teams: A Guide for Volunteers. Birmingham, Ala.: New Hope Publishing.
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